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January 4, 2008

URGENT ACTION NEEDED ON S-176 - Wrongful Death




Dear Mayor:

Yesterday, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee released S-176 which would expand survivor recovery in the event of wrongful death to allow awards for non economic loss, such as mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society and loss of companionship.

Notwithstanding, the toll on the family in the loss of a loved one, current law already provides proper recovery. This attempt to broaden the items that could be “recovered” would, in effect, award more money for the same loss.

S-176 is contrary to the principle of the Tort Claims Act (Title 59) which was adopted to balance the inappropriateness of regular liability laws when municipalities, counties, schools and the State must respond to a wide range of emergency situations. We strongly believe S-176 violates this tradeoff and its adoption will substantially increase liability insurance costs which will be manifested through increased property taxes.

We urge you to immediately call the Governor’s Office at (609) 292-6000 to register your opposition to S-176 and its assembly companion A-1511.  Please ask that any governmental entity subject to the Tort Claims Act be exempt from S-176.   It is also important to call your senate and assembly representative and express same.

Time is of the essence.  The assembly bill, A-1511 will be voted in the General Assembly on Monday. The intent is to adopt both bills in Lame Duck.


We are grateful for the assistance of David Grubb, of the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund.


                                                                        Very truly yours,


                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.
                                       Executive Director





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