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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Court: Scaffold Law Applies to 1ft Fall

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*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
April 14, 2016
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
pstonbely@lrany.org
518.512.5265

Court: Scaffold Law Applies to 1ft Fall

Reformers say ‘new low’ highlights need for reform

(ALBANY, NY) – Advocates for reform of New York’s controversial ‘Scaffold Law’ are calling a recent decision applying the law to a 1ft ‘fall’ an example of how expansive and onerous the law has become. The decision, entered at the end of March in Manhattan Supreme Court by Judge Anil Singh, granted judgement in favor of the plaintiff for a fall from just “12-18 inches” – a height at which experts say no scaffold or safety device could have protected the worker from falling. “This ruling shows that essentially nothing can be done to avoid a claim under this ridiculous statute,” said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, “it also shows that the law is not about safety, but about liability and lawsuits that protects nothing other than trial lawyer’s profits.”

The Scaffold Law Reform Coalition – which has members from around the state including Habitat for Humanity, the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, the New York Conference of Mayors, and the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership – has strongly advocated for reform of the law for years. The Scaffold Law holds property owners and contractors absolutely liable in a lawsuit for elevation related construction injuries, regardless of the fault of the worker. The group, who claims the current law is draining our state financially, seeks to add comparative negligence to the statute so negligence is attributed proportional to fault. According to researchers at the Rockefeller Institute of Government the law costs taxpayers $785 million per year.

A copy of the court decision can be found here.

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

Statement from LRANY Executive Director on NYC Construction Workers Drinking on the Job

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March 2, 2016

LRANY Executive Director on NYC Construction Workers Drinking on the Job

WABC-TV recent expose on construction workers drinking on the job further illustrates how New York’s labor laws encourage unsafe behavior. Specifically, Labor Law 240, also known as the ‘Scaffold Law,’ which has been applied by the courts to exonerate intoxicated workers of culpability for their own actions. The Scaffold Law has been shown to increase New York’s rate of injury by an estimated 677 injuries per year, and WABC-TV’s story illustrates why. Intoxicated workers are dangerous workers and New York’s laws should not let them off the hook if their drinking leads to an accident – either hurting themselves or others on site.

Governor Cuomo and New York lawmakers’ must reform the Scaffold Law to account for employee negligence, the same standard used in every other state. Doing so will save billions in insurance costs, billions in taxpayer dollars, and more importantly, reform will keep our workers and streets safer.”

-Tom Stebbins, Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

Link to WABC-TV segment here.

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Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@LRANY.org | 518.424.5811

The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

THANKS FOR MAKING SCAFFOLD LAW REFORM DAY AT THE CAPITOL A SUCCESS!

SLR LOBBY DAY 2016 -4Yesterday, over one hundred advocates gathered at the state capitol to urge lawmakers to support common sense reform to the New York’s Scaffold Law. Among them were contractors, builders, small business owners, developers, lawyers, and municipal officials. Attendees traveled from all corners of the state, from Buffalo to Brooklyn, to make their voice heard. The feedback from attendees on legislative meetings was overwhelmingly positive.

During the morning briefing, attendees were addressed by Judith Nelson, President & CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York State, as well as Jolie Milstein, President & CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH)  – both of whom stressed the importance of Scaffold Law reform for affordable housing and disaster relief efforts. Senator Patrick Gallivan (R, Elma), who has been a champion of Scaffold Law reform since taking office in 2011, also addressed the crowd – applauding the coalitions efforts and giving them credit for the continuing progress towards change of the outdated law over the past few years.

After the morning session attendees split up into regional groups to share their stories with their legislators and educate them on the issue. Many lawmakers, expressed support for reform, and those opposed to change heard loud and clear from our supporters about why the Scaffold Law needs to be changed.

We would like to thank everyone who attended and our generous sponsors for their help in making this day successful. Without your contributions, we could not continue to keep our fight strong. Thank you.   

Did not have a chance to attend? Attended but want to double your impact?

Virtual Lobby Day will be open for the rest of the week. Make your voice heard! 

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Can’t Make it to the Scaffold Law Reform Day at the Capitol?

TIME IS NOW.REFORM THE SCAFFOLD LAW! (2)

You Can Still Contact Elected Officials With Our Virtual Lobby Day!

If you are unable to make it to the Scaffold Law Reform Day at the Capitol, don’t worry! 

We are providing you multiple virtual vehicles to contact your elected officials and still make your voice heard!

Twitter: 

Hashtag: #SLRLobbyDay2016

A list of Twitter Handles for NYS Legislators can be found here: http://bit.ly/1npRC5K

Suggested Tweet: @(Your NYS Legislator here) TIME IS NOW! Reform the #ScaffoldLaw! – #SLRLobbyDay2016

votervoiceVoterVoice:

Send a letter directly to your elected officials with this electronic message service.

Follow this link:  http://bit.ly/1ZZ5ixi

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Please contact us with any questions or concerns. 

Thank you for staying involved. With your support, we can make reform a reality.

For Immediate Release: Watchdog Group Announces Financial Impact of Scaffold Law on Recently Announced Public Projects

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For Immediate Release
January 19, 2015
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
pstonbely@lrany.org
518.512.5265

Watchdog Group Announces Financial Impact of Scaffold Law on Recently Announced Public Projects
Estimates that $5 billion will be ‘wasted’ on law that exists only in New York

ALBANY – The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) announced today that the so-called ‘Scaffold Law’ will consume at least $5 billion of public infrastructure spending planned by the Cuomo administration. “It’s a staggering figure,” said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of LRANY. “Statewide, the financial burden of the Scaffold Law is greater than the entire cost of the Tappan Zee bridge project.”

The group used actuarial, public, and academic data to create the cost estimate, including data from the Port Authority and Metropolitan Transit Authority. After reviewing these sources, LRANY found that the Scaffold Law adds at least 5-7% to the cost of public projects in New York. While the full $100 billion in projects has not been clarified, the group estimated specific costs on several of the Governor’s initiatives, including:

  • $1.1-1.54 billion in additional costs to upstate transportation
  • $150-210 million in additional costs to Penn Station upgrades
  • $10-14 million in additional costs to upstate airport reconstruction
  • $50-70 million in additional costs to the Javits Center project
  • $50-70 million in additional costs to the LIRR project
  • $415-580 million in additional costs to the MTA Capital Plan

“No other state is burdened with these costs,” said Stebbins. “How can the Governor expect New York to compete?”

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

See PDF Release Here

LRANY Executive Director on 2016 State of the State

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January 13, 2016

LRANY Executive Director on 2016 State of the State

“Of the 14 proposals outlined by the Governor, 12 require construction, and there is no greater hindrance to construction in New York than a law the Governor himself has called ‘infuriating’ – the so-called ‘Scaffold Law.’ New York is the only state to have a law like it, it costs billions, and does not keep workers safe. If the Governor is serious about these proposals, he needs to reform the greatest impediment to their success: the Scaffold Law.”

-Tom Stebbins, Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

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Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@LRANY.org | 518.424.5811

 

The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

LRANY Letter, The Journal News – Fight Corruption, Reform Scaffold Law

tom speaking lobby day scaffoldToday, The Journal News published a letter written by LRANY’s Executive Director, Thomas B. Stebbins. This letter focused on the opportunity for Scaffold Law reform to become a reality in the wake of the Sheldon Silver conviction.

An excerpt:

“If Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature are serious about expunging the corruption of the Sheldon Silver-era, they must look to reform the ridiculous trial lawyer-giveaway known as the ‘Scaffold Law.’

The Scaffold Law exists only in New York state and, confusingly, does not necessarily have anything to do with scaffolds. What it does is hold contractors and property owners automatically liable in a lawsuit, even if, in the words of the high court, ‘they had nothing to do with the plaintiff’s accident.'”

Read Full Letter

LRANY Letter, Albany Times Union – Cleanse Agenda of Trial Lawyers

Lawsuit_1-6236The Albany Times Union recently published a letter to the editor written by LRANY’s Thomas Stebbins highlighting the opportunity for common sense reforms in the wake of Sheldon Silver’s conviction.

An excerpt:

“For years, it has been an open secret in Albany that the trial lawyers controlled the Assembly. Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was known to work as “of counsel” for powerhouse tort law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, and many in Albany, including other legislators, believed Mr. Silver would not buck the interests of his employer.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself publicly stated that the trial lawyers were the ‘single most powerful political force in Albany.'”

Read Full Letter Here

Statement from LRANY Executive Director on Guilty Verdict in Sheldon Silver’s Corruption Trial

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November 30, 2015

Statement from LRANY Executive Director on Guilty Verdict in Sheldon Silver’s Corruption Trial

“As we have been saying for years, Sheldon Silver’s ‘income’ was nothing more than a political payment to ensure he executed the agenda of the trial lawyers who paid him. We are left with a state decimated by lawsuits and litigation – highest medical liability costs, highest construction insurance costs, and an asbestos court rated the worst the nation. Today marks a new day where the legislature can start working for the people of New York, not just the trial lawyers.”

-Tom Stebbins, Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

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Contact: Tom Stebbins | Tstebbins@lrany.org | 518.424.5811  

The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Majority of New York Counties Call for Scaffold Law Reform

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For Immediate Release
September 22, 2015
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
pstonbely@lrany.org
518.512.5265

Majority of New York Counties Call for Scaffold Law Reform
Citing lost jobs, cost to taxpayers, and increased injuries, county governments urge the state to act

(ALBANY, NY) – 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.

county reso map“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.”

Stebbins connected the effort to the ongoing battle in Albany for mandate relief, “The Scaffold Law is really the mother of all mandates. It adds massive, unnecessary costs to every county budget and every property tax bill. Despite Governor Cuomo’s efforts, New York is still the worst in the nation for property taxes. As local governments work to stay under the property tax cap, this is one change that would provide much-needed relief.”

The county effort began when Erie County, home to the City of Buffalo, passed the first resolution urging the Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Majority Leader to reform the Scaffold Law. Since then thirty-one more counties have passed similar resolutions.

Upon hearing the news that the majority of New York counties have followed Erie County’s lead, Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo said, “I am proud that Erie County was able to lead the charge in calling for the reform of antiquated labor laws, such as the Scaffold Law. These measures drive up the cost of projects, deter development, and contribute to New York State’s reputation as being the least business friendly state. It is great to see that counties throughout the state have passed resolutions similar to Erie County’s and it is my hope that our state leaders listen and finally take action to reform labor laws. These outdated policies are no longer necessary and only hinder growth.”

The Coalition indicated that they expect several other counties to pass resolutions supporting Scaffold Law reform over the coming months. Stebbins explained, “the Scaffold Law continues to be a massive, unnecessary cost to counties and taxpayers. As more and more legislatures understand the law and its’ devastating impacts, we expect more and more resolutions to pass.”

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

See Full PDF Release