Rush of ‘Scaffold Law’ Lawsuits Makes Case For Necessary Reforms

A recent deluge of Labor Law 240/241 (a.k.a the ‘Scaffold Law’) lawsuits illustrate the need for legislative reform in New York.  New York remains the only state in the nation where a worker is not held responsible for their own negligence. Under this law, contractors, employers and property owners are held absolutely liable for “elevation related injuries”.

Reforming the Scaffold Law would create jobs, improve workplace safety, and strengthen New York’s economy, at no cost to taxpayers. The time for change is now to bring New York up to speed with the rest of the country.

On October 26, the highest court in New York State issued a decision on a case which will dramatically expand the scope of the “Scaffold Law.” In the case,Wilinski v. 334 East 92nd Housing Development Fund Corp, 2011 NY Slip Op 7477, a worker was demolishing the walls of a warehouse building. In front of the brick wall that the worker was demolishing were two metal plumbing pipes rising vertically from the floor on which the worker was standing.

On November 1st, a Court of Appeals ruling on the Scaffold Law reaffirmed that liability under the scaffold law is absolute. This means that a worker’s negligence or refusal to use safety equipment is inconsequential in the eyes of the law.

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