Concerned Clergy of New York State and New York City Urge Lawmakers to Oppose New York Assembly Bill A.1270-A
We, the clergy members of New York State and New York City respectfully submit this letter urging lawmakers to oppose New York Assembly bill A 1270-A.
This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that purports to regulate the consumer legal financing industry, but in reality, is an insurance company-backed bill that aims to eradicate consumer legal financing altogether.
Consumer legal funding is a vital lifeline for many of our parishioners who have fallen victim to illegal or unjust behavior and otherwise lack the financial means to pursue a fair settlement. We recognize that regulation is needed to ensure consumer legal funding remains a safe and accessible option for victims seeking justice against powerful interests, specifically insurance companies, but to eliminate access to this life-sustaining funding would not only mark a tremendous injustice to our community, but to everyday New Yorkers across the state who may someday need access to this lifeline.
That is why we are calling on the legislature to oppose A.1270-A and instead support Assemblyman Erik Dilan’s legislation (A.3315), which establishes fair, ethical, and transparent legal funding standards while maintaining access to this life-sustaining option.
In these challenging economic times, few members of our community have the means to navigate the legal system without worrying about how they will pay the bills or provide for their families, especially if they are no longer able to work because of their injuries. Insurance companies will often take advantage of those who don’t have the means to match their legal maneuvers by dragging the process out for several years and pressuring victims to accept unfair and undervalued settlements to increase their profits.
We as clergy witness first-hand how consumer legal funding empowers members of our community to pursue their fully justified settlement payments. We have seen consumer legal funding companies help many of our parishioners keep a roof over their heads, keep the lights on, and make ends meet while they pursue their fully justified payments. Unlike loans or insurance claims, these funds are not used to finance or replace litigation but to empower our parishioners to pursue a fair settlement without having to cover day-to-day expenses as litigation plays out.
Notwithstanding its incredible benefits to our community, we understand that just as in any industry, the consumer legal funding industry has some bad-faith actors. Assemblyman Dilan’s A. 3315 would protect victims in need of consumer legal funding from these bad-faith actors requiring easy-to-read contracts and banning unfair practices while still ensuring access to this crucial funding lifeline. Regulations such as these must be in place to ensure that parishioners understand all their options when up against insurance companies whose guiding priority is their bottom line.
However, insurance carriers are advocating to eliminate this vital lifeline under the guise of regulatory legislation. The reality is that insurance carriers do not want greater clarity or stricter regulation – they want to be able to continue to force vulnerable New Yorkers to accept lesser settlements than what they deserve because they cannot access the funding, they need to continue seeking justice.
The New York legislature has a moral responsibility to ensure that New Yorkers can pursue justice against wealthy, powerful interests without jeopardizing their livelihoods. It also has a moral responsibility to ensure that regulations are in place to protect consumers in need of legal funding from bad-faith actors. Assemblyman Dilan’s A3315 establishes fair, ethical, and transparent funding standards that protect victims and ensure consumer legal funding remains a safe and accessible option for members of our community and beyond.
The legislature must also ensure that in the process of regulating the consumer legal funding industry, it does not fall for deceitful legislation that would eliminate the option altogether, such as A. 1270-A. To do so would be to blatantly favor the interests of deep-pocketed corporations and predatory insurance carriers over every day New Yorkers.
Concerned New York State and New York City Clergy,
Reverend Dr. Damone Paul Johnson, Metropolitan NTM Baptist Church, Albany
Reverend William E. Morgan, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Albany
Reverend Dr. Elgin Joseph Taylor Sr., Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, Albany
Bishop H. Bernard Alex, Victory Temple Fellowship Church, Syracuse
Reverend Cyrus Thornton, Second Olivet Missionary Baptist Church, Syracuse
Reverend Dr. Frank Bostic, Pilgrim Baptist Church, Buffalo
Reverend Timothy Brown, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Buffalo
Reverend Edward Jackson, Friendship Baptist Church, Buffalo
Reverend Dr. Dennis Lee Jr., Hopewell Baptist Church, Buffalo
Reverend Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. Antioch Baptist Church, Buffalo
Reverend Dr. Jonathan McReynolds, Aenon Missionary Baptist Church, Rochester
Reverend Donald E. Butler, Community Baptist Church, Long Island
Reverend Patrick Young, First Baptist Church, Long Island
Reverend Dr. Gilbert Pickett Sr., Mt. Horeb Baptist Church, Queens
Reverend Jeffrey Thompson, Amity Baptist Church, Queens
Reverend Timothy P. Taylor, Hebron Baptist Church, Brooklyn
Reverend Dr. Carl L. Washington Jr., New Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Harlem
Bishop Calvin Rice, New Jerusalem Worship Center, Jamaica
Reverend Gary Colter, Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, Peekskill/Westchester