Legislature Makes Forum Shopping Easier

The New York State legislature recently passed an amendment to CPLR 503(a) that makes venue proper when a case is initiated in a “county in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred.”The New York State legislature recently passed an amendment to CPLR 503(a) that makes venue proper when a case is initiated in a “county in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred.”

The legislature’s unanimous approval of the amendment will affect all future lawsuits that will be filed. It is now easier for plaintiffs to place their case in front of a favorable jury pool. Previously they had to bring their case in “a county where one of the parties resided.” The memorandum in support of the bill claimed venue was “too restrictive.”

The prior Venue provisions discouraged forum shopping. Forum shopping is when plaintiffs select a court that gives them the best chance of winning. Now that the legislature has decided to lift those restrictions plaintiffs will flock to friendly courthouses where sympathetic jurors await. The judicial branch of government looks at forum shopping negatively, however, they must interpret the laws as written and the legislature has made it very hard for judges to grant motions to change the venue.

The amendments give plaintiffs the ability to choose any venue they please so long as they claim “a substantial portion of the event” occurred in the venue. The legislature provides insight into the malleability of the definition “substantial portion.” The legislature’s accompanying memo provides examples of where venue can now be placed such as where the event occurred or where witnesses live. Soon plaintiffs may be urging the court to allow venue in county’s where they work or where their doctor’s office is located.

The bill’s supporters have increased the already lengthy judicial process. When plaintiffs choose friendly venues, the dockets in those venues are expected to be congested even more than they are now. That means we can expect cases to take longer if they cannot be resolved without a trial.

This amendment to the CPLR is effective immediately upon the signature of the Governor. We do not believe it will have any retroactive effect.

If you wish to discuss this further, please feel free to contact us.

Pillinger Miller Tarallo LLP
555 Taxter Road
Elmsford, New York 10523
(914) 703-6300

Jeffrey Miller
jmiller@pmtlawfirm.com

Marc Pillinger
mpillinger@pmtlawfirm.com