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NY Venue Statute For Personal Injury Actions Amended

October 25, 2017

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The New York Assembly proposed <a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Senate-Bill-Venue.pdf">Assembly Bill A8032 </a>(an adoption of Senate Bill S6031) which amends the State venue statute for personal injury actions. The Bill was passed in both the Assembly and Senate in June, and signed into law by Governor Cuomo on October 23, 2017.  The law is effective immediately.
The <u>law</u> amends CPLR Section 503 which designates venue as the county in which any one of the parties resides when the action is commenced, or in the county of plaintiff’s designation if none of the parties lives within the State.  The new law adds the following key section “the county in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred”.
For example, in a case involving a motor vehicle accident which occurred in Kings County between residents of Nassau and Westchester Counties, plaintiff was previously allowed to file the action in Nassau or Westchester County. Now, plaintiff can choose between Nassau, Westchester, OR Kings County.  This amendment expands upon plaintiff’s already unilateral right to choose the venue in personal injury and property damage actions.
The justification of the bi-partisan supported bill was to give the Courts and jurors of communities with the most interest in setting community standards the ability to hear such controversies. In addition, witnesses are more likely to be located in the county where the events that are the subject of the action occurred.  It will be interesting to see how case law develops, and to see if the Courts constrain the provision in circumstances where none of the justifications are met and the selection of venue appears to be merely a facet of venue shopping.
Thanks to Christopher Gioia for his contribution.
For more information, contact Denise Fontana Ricci at <a href="mailto:dricci@wcmlaw.com">dricci@wcmlaw.com</a>.
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