A law that required New York nursing homes to report injuries and abuse to county officials twice a year has been ruled unlawful by the New York Supreme Court this week. 

“Ruthie’s Law,” first enacted in 2017, had been challenged by providers in the state who argued that Erie County officials overstepped their authority when they created the law. 

The ruling was handed down by New York Supreme Court Justice Donna Siwek on Tuesday, concluding an 18 month battle between the New York State Health Facilities Association and the county.

Providers had also previously argued that the law was redundant since state regulations already require facilities to report abuse, injuries and neglect to the New York State Department of Health. They’ve also noted that nursing home ratings are already publicly available on federal and state websites. 

“Despite whatever good intentions the Erie County Legislature and county executive may have had regarding nursing home patient care when Ruthie’s Law was enacted … plaintiffs are correct in that Ruthie’s Law is unlawful, unconstitutional and unenforceable,” Siwek wrote. “Therefore, plaintiffs are entitled to an order and judgment declaring Ruthie’s Law unlawful, unconstitutional and unenforceable and defendants are enjoined from enforcement.”

The ruling was welcomed by the NYSHFA. Providers would have been subject to up to $2,000 in fines by the county if the law was upheld. 

“We understand Erie County’s intentions. They were well-intended,” Neil Murray, who represented the association in court, told local media. “But the fact is that local legislators like Erie County do not have regulatory jurisdiction over nursing homes.”