An amendment that would have lifted the state’s stringent statute of limitations on suing medical practitioners for malpractice failed to come to a vote before this year’s state legislative session ended. According to a New York Daily News report, the proposed amendment, sponsored by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, failed because it didn’t have the support of State Senate leader Dean Skelos.
The amendment was referred to as Lavern’s Law, named after Brooklyn mother Lavern Wilkinson who died after doctors at Kings County Hospital failed to tell her she had a treatable lung nodule that they had detected. She and her family were unable to sue for medical malpractice due to the state’s strict statute of limitations laws, which start counting days from when the negligence actually occurred, not when it was discovered.
While the bill had gained traction in the Assembly, Weinstein held it back from a vote. Weinstein claims that the amendment would never have a chance in the Senate due to intense lobbying from hospital and doctors groups who argued that malpractice insurance rates would drastically increase.
Weinstein, who has spent years trying to get this law passed, explained her withdrawal of the amendment to the Daily News.
“It seemed pretty obvious that the Senate wasn’t advancing the bill, and it was going to be a heated debate in our house with it looking like it had a chance to become law this year,” Weinstein said.
Advocates for the bill, including Wilkinson’s attorney, Judith Donnell, were incensed over the failure of the bill to gain traction in the state legislature.
“It’s a shame. Neither the Senate or the Assembly had the backbone to let it come to a vote. Hopefully it will pass in the new year. It’s not something that should just be buried,” Donnell said.
Weinstein also expressed hope that the proposed amendment will come to a vote next year.
“I am certainly capable of handling a contentious debate, but you want to save it for when there is a chance of becoming law,” Weinstein told the Daily News. “We got further than we ever have before, so I am hopeful for next year.”
According to the Daily News, Albany insiders blamed the failure of the bill on there being a lack of time to debate the measure. Skelos offered no comment.