NY Medical Malpractice Law Held Up By Legislator

Jacky Gale | July 1st, 2015

scales and gavel

Currently, 44 states have “date of discovery” laws. This means that the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit doesn’t begin until the date that the person knew or should have known that harm had been inflicted – rather than the date that the alleged incident actually occurred.

New York is not among those states, much to the dismay of medical malpractice victims and their families, who cannot currently demand justice with a medical malpractice lawsuit merely because an injury or illness was not discovered in time. Lavern’s Law would have changed all that. Despite widespread support for the measure and vociferous advocacy from Lavern Wilkinson’s surviving family, Lavern’s Law was allowed to die in the Senate on June 25.

Lawmaker harshly criticized for inaction

The person blamed for the failed push to modify the date of discovery for New York medical malpractice lawsuits is Senate GOP Majority Leader John Flanagan. He is not being faulted for voting against the measure, but rather for preventing a vote at all. Flanagan could have sent the bill to the Senate floor for a vote, but he chose to keep it stymied in committee, despite the fact that the bill had the support of Senate Republicans and Gov. Cuomo.

It has been suggested that strong healthcare industry lobbying may be at least partially to blame for the situation. The Greater New York Hospital Association and some Republican senators are said to have been pressuring Sen. Flanagan to push for a cap on medical malpractice awards. After the bill died in committee, Sen. Flanagan gave remarks indicating that he would like to have Lavern’s Law discussed only as part of a larger medical malpractice reform package.

Lavern Wilkinson’s death may have been prevented

Lavern’s Law was named after Lavern Wilkinson, who was a 41-year-old mother from Brooklyn. Wilkinson had a chest x-ray in 2010, which depicted a suspicious mass in a lung. However, she was never informed that she had a curable type of lung cancer. She was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2012. Since the statute of limitations had already expired, Wilkinson was barred from filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the New York hospital. She died in 2013, leaving behind a child with autism and mental disabilities.

Only after a New York newspaper ran an investigative piece on Wilkinson’s death did the city award her surviving mother $625,000. The mother, a 63-year-old breast cancer survivor, is providing care for Wilkinson’s 18-year-old daughter.

Justice for medical malpractice victims

The failure of Lavern’s Law to be put to a vote is just one more reason for medical malpractice victims and their families to contact a lawyer right away after an incident occurs. The attorneys of The Sanders Firm provide New York residents with effective legal advocacy services to help them obtain justice on behalf of their loved ones.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a possible result of medical malpractice, you can schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY for our New York office.


  1. New York Daily News, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan urged to bring medical malpractice bill called Lavern’s Law to floor for vote, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/senate-majority-leader-blocking-medical-malpractice-bill-article-1.2267189

  2. New York Daily News, Lavern’s Law dies as state Legislature is set to finish session, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/lavern-law-dies-legislature-set-finish-session-article-1.2271841