A bill that would have expanded New York's wrongful death law to cover emotional anguish and allow a broader set of people to bring claims was vetoed by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday night.
The move was not unexpected: Hochul on Monday had proposed a last-minute compromise with legislators that would have narrowed the focus of the bill and exempt medical malpractice claims. State lawmakers who sponsored the wrongful death proposal rejected the idea.
Hochul's veto of the measure, one of the final outstanding pieces of legislation last year and one of the more controversial to land on her desk, will likely be cheered by local government organizations, the insurance industry and medical groups that had opposed the bill on the grounds it would have led to higher insurance premiums as a result.
Current law covers claims under pecuniary, or financial, losses in wrongful death claims. The measure would have made it easier to bring lawsuits under emotional anguish claims in New York. The proposal would also have extended the statute of limitations from two years to 3-1/2 years in wrongful death cases.
In her veto message, Hochul wrote the law was approved last year by lawmakers "without a serious evaluation of these massive changes on the economy, small businesses, and the state's complex health care system."
Hochul added she's willing to continue talks over the proposal to reach a compromise.
Proponents of the law, including trial lawyers and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, had argued the measure was a needed update to a more than 100-year-old law that could have benefitted low-income people and New Yorkers of color.
Families of those killed at the supermarket in Buffalo after a mass shooter opened fire in a predominantly Black neighborhood had also supported the measure.