Broad Coalition of New York State Groups Calls on Governor Cuomo for Action on Scaffold Law
ALBANY, N.Y., May 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- New York's municipalities pay over $1 billion each year for total claims and legal judgments, including increased liability under the Scaffold Law. A broad coalition of advocacy groups, representing small and large businesses, contractors, farmers and municipalities recently issued a letter to Governor Cuomo and the Mandate Relief Council asking for their support in reforming the Scaffold Law. The law, which dates back to the 1880s, holds contractors and property owners absolutely liable for workplace injuries, regardless of fault – driving up insurance and building costs across the state. New York is the only state to still have the law on the books.
"At a time when communities all across the state are facing some of their greatest fiscal challenges, any efforts to protect local governments from additional financial exposure by affording them their right to due process must be given the utmost consideration," said Peter Baynes, Executive Director of the New York Conference of Mayors.
The coalition also highlighted the effect of the Scaffold Law on state spending. "Governor Cuomo has strongly supported mandate relief and increased infrastructure spending. Reforming the Scaffold Law would relieve our communities of this burdensome and outdated mandate and allow our state's infrastructure dollars to go further," said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.
Legislation to reform the Scaffold Law was recently introduced in the New York Senate by Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-Elmira) and sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle (D-Irondequoit).
"Since repealing its own Scaffold Law in 1995, Illinois has created close to 50,000 new construction jobs," said Senator Gallivan when he introduced the bill earlier in the legislative session.
Following repeal of the Scaffold Law in Illinois in 1995, construction employment increased by 54,000, or 25%, over the following 7 years–while construction fatalities declined by 26%. The proposed legislation relieves contractors, municipalities, and landowners of liability if the injured party was intoxicated, violating safety standards or committing a criminal act at the time of the injury. The reform does not limit a worker's ability to sue for injuries or the amount they can recover, and does not restrict workers' compensation benefits. "Reforming the law is common sense. Evidence shows us this sensible reform will create jobs, stimulate the economy, and potentially improve safety," said Mike Durant, State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business in New York.
"One of the biggest barriers to expansion for farmers is our state's business climate. We keep lagging far behind most other states in major economic indicators. Reforming the Scaffold Law to remove impediments to growth by making New York comparable to other states by adopting a comparative negligence standard simply makes good common sense for our family farms," said Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau.
Groups signing the letter to Governor Cuomo included the Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York, Building Trades Employers Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., The Business Council of New York State, Associated General Contractors of New York State, Construction Industry Council of Westchester and Hudson Valley, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Construction Exchange of Buffalo and Western New York, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Empire State Subcontractors Association, New York State Farm Bureau, Manufacturers Association of Central New York, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, Homebuilders and Remodelers of Central New York, New York Conference of Mayors, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, New York State Builders Association, Long Island Builders Institute, Northeastern Retail Lumber Association, Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce, Syracuse Builders Exchange, Real Estate Board of New York, Unshackle Upstate, Rochester Business Alliance and the Westchester County Association.
A copy of the letter sent to Governor Cuomo is available at: http://www.nylawsuitreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Letter-to-Governor-and-Mandate-Relief-Council_Scaffold-Law_5.8.12.pdf.
SOURCE Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New YorkBack to top