Scaffold Law Reform News
A Majority of new york counties call for scaffold law reform
- Published on 22 September 2015
The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York along with a coalition of business, municipal, and non-profit organizations
announced today that thirty-two county legislatures – more than half of the state – have passed resolutions calling on the state government to reform the “Scaffold Law” law. The law, which only exists in New York, holds contractors and property owners, including counties, 100% liable in lawsuits for gravity-related construction injuries, regardless of any contributing fault by the employee.
"this is a manifestation of the massive grassroots support for reform of the Scaffold Law,” said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of the Alliance, the group coordinating the effort. “County governments know first-hand how devastating the Scaffold Law can be, and today’s news is a reflection of local governments – and taxpayers’- frustration with the corruption and status quo in Albany.”
In Scaffold Law Cases, Consistency on Sole Proximate Cause Falls Flat
- Published on 15 September 2015
In today's New York Law Journal, Julian Ehrlich highlights troubling inconsistencies in how New York trial courts interpret the "sole proximate cause" defense, under which if a worker is 100% responsible for their injuries, the employer bears no liability.
Although the formulation of the "sole proximate cause defense"2 to §240 has not changed in over a decade since Cahill, courts have been markedly divided on its application, particularly as to whether this issue should go to the jury.
However, given the nature of the four criteria established for the defense in Cahill and the accompanying, often conflicting, versions of accident facts, causation typically should be properly decided by a jury rather than as a matter of law by the court.
In fact, the court in Cahill repeatedly referred to causation as properly a question for the jury.
For example, the court, in reversing the lower courts' grant of plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and in enumerating the standard, stated: "Here, a jury [emphasis added] could have found that  plaintiff had adequate safety devices available;  that he knew both that they were available and that he was expected to use them;  that he chose for no good reason not to do so; and  that had he not made that choice he would have not been injured."
In addition, the court stated: "The controlling question is…whether a jury [emphasis added] could have found that his own conduct rather than any violation of Labor Law §240(1) was the sole proximate cause of his accident."3
Nonetheless, recent decisions have been sharply divided over whether sole proximate cause is a jury question in §240 cases.
What would real estate dealmakers do if they were the governor for a day? Scaffold Law Reform
- Published on 11 September 2015
In today's Albany Business Review, Robin Cooper outlines what four Capital Region real estate leaders would do if they were the state's top elected official for a day.
Peter Belmonte Jr., one of the largest home builders in the Albany region, would abolish New York's costly "scaffold law" if he could be governor for just one day.
Real estate investor Chuck Cronin and developer Michael Uccellini would reduce government spending by cutting down on the number of municipalities and school districts in the state.
Peter Belmonte Jr. is president of Belmonte Builders in Clifton Park, New York.
And Richard Sleasman, managing director of CBRE-Albany, would stimulate the economy by speeding up the regulatory review process for all projects.
The four real estate dealmakers outlined changes they would make to improve New York's business climate during a panel discussion at the Albany Business Review's real estate Power Breakfast on Friday at Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia.
Belmonte, president of Belmonte Builders in Clifton Park, said the scaffold law is a prime example of the onerous and costly regulations that make New York a difficult place to do business.