As the New York Legislature raced to a close yesterday, I wrote about a change in the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases.
But that wasn’t the only change that affects the personal injury field. There was also a change as to where lawsuits can be brought.
Currently, a lawsuit can generally be brought either in the county where the plaintiff resides, or the county where the defendant resides. Thus, if someone from Manhattan and someone from Suffolk were involved in an auto collision in Nassau — which sits between the two for you non-local readers — the plaintiff could choose either Manhattan or Suffolk as the venue for the lawsuit. But not the county in between where it actually happened.
But late yesterday both the Senate and the Assembly passed a bill to amend that to include also the place where that collision took place, adding the words in all caps to CPLR 501(a):
Except where otherwise prescribed by law, the place of trial shall be in the county in which one of the parties resided when it was commenced; THE COUNTY IN WHICH A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE EVENTS OR OMISSIONS GIVING RISE TO THE CLAIM OCCURRED; or, if none of the parties then resided in the state, in any county designated by the plaintiff. A party resident in more than one county shall be deemed a resident of each such county.
While this provides a bit more flexibility for the individual that chooses the forum, the practical application is that one may now bring suit where important eye witnesses are most likely located, thereby increasing the chance one will be able to get them into court for trial.
A good tool for the lawyer’s toolbox. The bill passed with very wide bipartisan support and now goes to the Governor for signature.