Scaffold Law Reform News
Letter: Reforming Scaffold Law would save money
- Published on 16 July 2014
Today, the Watertown Daily Times published a letter from the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York's Executive Director, Thomas B. Stebbins, calling to Scaffold Law reform as a solution to decrease the costs of the Tappan Zee Bridge project.
"We certainly agree with the Watertown Daily Times that there are better ways to pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement than raiding the water fund, a point made it its editorial “Robbing Peter: Cuomo needs better plan to pay for Tappan Zee Bridge project” published on July 9. One of the easiest solutions would be to reform a law that exists only in New York, our notorious Scaffold Law. The law holds contractors and property owners (like the state) 100 percent liable, even if they were only 1 percent at fault."
In Reply: Scaffold law adds costs, but not safety
- Published on 16 July 2014
Today, The Journal News published a response from the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York's Executive Director, Tom Stebbins arguing that the Scaffold Law as it stands only adds costs, not safety.
"The writer defends New York's Scaffold Safety Law, saying it gave him his "day in court." Of course, that is precisely what Scaffold Law reformers like myself are seeking, a day in court.
Under the current absolute liability standard of the Scaffold Law, contractors and property owners are held 100 percent liable, even if they were only 1 percent at fault. Any court proceedings are to determine the dollar award, not the liability, since liability is absolute under the Scaffold Law."
A Scaffold Law Critic Stays in Business, Barely
- Published on 26 June 2014
In today's Times Union Capitol Confidential, Benjamin Oreskes provides an update on Mary Ellen Belding, whose business was nearly forced to close because of the Scaffold Law.
It was another losing year for the business groups that want to see New York’s 129-year-old Scaffold Law reformed. One of them is Mary Ellen Belding, the owner of Rochester-based SRS Contracting, who was the central speaker at a May 6 press conference set up by one such organization, the Lawsuit Reform Alliance.
Belding took to the dais and explained in emotional terms how SRS would crash and burn if she failed to secure affordable liability insurance — a difficulty she blamed on the Legislature’s failure to alter the hotly debated law. Scaffold Law, enacted in 1885 as Labor Law 240, places almost absolute liability on contractors and property owners for gravity-related accidents at construction sites, even when the workers are at fault in part or whole.
“In 17 days, SRS will be out of business,” Belding said last month. “I will close my doors if I don’t have the coverage. Thirty people will lose their jobs … and it is a direct result of the inability of myself and my carriers to bring up ‘comparative negligence’ during a 240 claim.”