A Scaffold Law Critic Stays in Business, Barely

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.”

Read the full article here

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