HomeNewsFor a Second Year in a Row, Governor Huchol Has Vetoed The Grieving Families Act

For a Second Year in a Row, Governor Hochul Has Vetoed Assembly Bill No. A6698, The Grieving Families Act.

Expanding Damages in Wrongful Death Actions: A6698 Overview

For a second time now, Governor Hochul has vetoed the Grieving Families Act, Assembly Bill No. A6698. This bill sought to greatly expand the scope of damages available to plaintiffs in wrongful death actions. Specifically, the bill allowed close family members to recover emotional anguish, as opposed to solely the earning potential of the deceased family member in their support of a spouse, children, or other dependents. In her original op-ed last year, Governor Hochul suggested to the Legislature that “we amend the legislation and sign into law a version that would give parents of children who have tragically died in accidents the opportunity to seek meaningful accountability for their heart-wrenching loss while, for the time being, exempting far more costly medical malpractice claims.”

Following her January 2023 veto and op-ed, the Legislature made only minor changes to the amended version of the bill, including (a) defining “surviving close family members” who would be entitled to recover under the bill; (b) increasing the statute of limitations for wrongful death actions from two (2) to three (3) years from the date of death; and (c) enumerating those damages which could be recovered. These minor changes did not satisfy the Governor, however, who would not commit to signing the bill in law. Over the course of 2023, Governor Hochul “attempted to work in good faith with the Legislature to amend the bill “and as the deadline approached, [she] publicly laid out the criteria for the appropriate changes.”

The Legislature once again passed a bill that does not create the requisite balance and again introduces the potential for unintended consequences.

Governor Kathy Hochul 57th Governor of New York

Vetoing the 2023 Version: Governor Hochul’s Statement

In vetoing the 2023 version of the bill, Governor Hochul stated “The Legislature once again passed a bill that does not create the requisite balance and again introduces the potential for unintended consequences.” Although Governor Hochul supports an amendment of New York’s wrongful death statute that would allow grieving families certain recovery and hold responsible parties accountable, she remains steadfast that the amended version of the bill would still have “significant unintended consequences,” including increasing insurance premiums for the vast majority of consumers, as well as “risk the financial well-being of our health care facilities – most notably, for public hospitals that serve disadvantaged communities.”

Costello, Cooney, & Fearon will continue to monitor the actions taken throughout the 2024 Legislative season.

Margaret A. French
Margaret A. French