New York Governor Paterson signed into law New York State Bill A40002, which amends CPLR 4545, New York’s Collateral Source Rule. The bill has many aspects, some of which relate to municipal health benefit plans which are not directly germane to subrogation concerns. From a subrogation perspective, the bill both maintains existing restrictive language concerning subrogation rights, and further tightens the grounds upon which reimbursement may be obtained.
The pertinent section of the bill references "Any Action Brought To Recover Damages For Personal Injury, Injury To Property Or Wrongful Death…." It then provides for "limitation of non-statutory reimbursement and subrogation claims in personal injury and wrongful death actions." This section states that it shall be conclusively presumed that any settlement in a personal injury or wrongful death action does not include any compensation for the cost of healthcare services, loss of earnings or other economic loss to the extent they have been or will be reimbursed by a collateral source payer. The only exception is when there is a right of reimbursement or subrogation that is statutorily established.
The Act does not purport to restrict rights of subrogation for property damage claims, notwithstanding the somewhat misleading reference to actions for "Injury To Property" in one of the headings. Indeed, two separate memorandum prepared by bill sponsors explicitly stated that the bill is not applicable to property damage subrogation claims. The bill was passed as a "program bill," with a truncated memorandum which did not contain this language, but the pertinent memoranda still comprise part of the relevant legislative history for this bill, to the extent any unfounded arguments are made regarding the intended application and scope of this bill. We shortly will be posting one or both of the sponsor memos with this clear language.
Stay tuned for further developments regarding potential anti-subrogation legislation in other jurisdictions.