BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Grieving Families Act is on the Governor of New York's desk. It hasn't been signed.
The bill would update an 1847 law in New York on how families can be financially compensated if a loved one is wrongfully killed.
Buffalo attorney John Elmore said when it comes to the "ancient wrongful death statute, only allows when there is a lawsuit for wrongful death for people to recover from economic loss and conscious pain and suffering."
In many states, when people lose a loved one, they are compensated for the pain and suffering.
Elmore represents some of the families of the victims of the Tops mass shooting on Jefferson Avenue. He said the Grieving Families Act would benefit them, even more so now since the shooter, pleaded guilty.
"When you think about what Payton Gendron did when he killed an elderly person that wasn't working, or the family didn't depend on that income, is it right for that family to not testify about the pain and suffering that they individually feel," said Elmore.
The bill also expands the definition of the word family.
One of the victims wasn't legally married and his partner isn't allowed any compensation under the current law, but under the Grieving Families Act, she would be included.
A spokesperson for the governor sent the following statement:
"Governor Hochul is committed to standing with her neighbors in the East Buffalo community in the wake of the white supremacist attack at the Tops supermarket, and took swift action to pass common-sense gun safety laws, provide resources to help the community recover, and direct millions of dollars in investments for East Buffalo. The Governor is reviewing this legislation."
There are many groups staunchly opposed to the Grieving Families Act. Opponents say New Yorkers would pay higher health care and insurance costs. Lobbying has been strong from medical and insurance groups. The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York says if this bill passes, it could increase doctors' costs by over 40% for medical insurance liability.