Approved Legislation Helps Prevent Frivolous Litigation

by Henry Meier

All you credit union and banking executives having your first cup of coffee this morning can sip it knowing you are a bit more secure from frivolous lawsuits.  Yesterday, the Governor’s office approved legislation ending New York State’s requirement that banks and credit unions post physical ATM Fee Disclosure signs by the ATM.  This change in state law means that New York State credit unions can now enjoy the full benefit of similar legislation already passed by Congress.  I know many of you have decided to take pictures of your ATM signs on an almost daily basis so that you can prove that you had the proper signage in the event that a “injured” plaintiff tries to sue you claiming otherwise.  You can take a break for a while, but given the excess number of lawyers, I have no doubt that a new rash of frivolous legislation will pop up somewhere soon.

A second bill approved by the Governor yesterday has gotten widespread public attention this morning.  It requires attorneys to file a certificate of merit at the time a foreclosure action is commenced stipulating that they have reviewed the necessary paperwork and that the case has merit.

New York has one of the longest foreclosure processes in the country.  I’m against almost all proposals predicated on the assumption that New Yorkers in danger of losing their homes are in need of more legal protections.  However, this bill, which was forwarded by the Office of Court Administration, makes sense to me.  Since 2010, New York State regulations have required attorneys to stipulate that they have reviewed foreclosure files at the time they file what’s called a Request For Judicial Intervention.  Some attorneys have refused to do so, meaning that we now have a backlog of commenced foreclosure actions that are not going forward because RJIs are not being requested.  Since I have no sympathy for attorneys who have taken on so many foreclosures that they can’t review the necessary paperwork and because it is in everyone’s interest to clean up the backlog of foreclosure litigation, this is one foreclosure requirement that makes sense to me.

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