Times Union: Scaffold Law benefits personal injury lawyers

The Albany Times Union published a letter from the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York’s Adam Morey in response to comments made by personal injury trial lawyer Daniel Santola:

Personal injury attorney Daniel Santola’s March 15 letter (“Scaffold Law freeze would repeat past failure”) misrepresents the history of the Scaffold Law and the argument employed is not backed by any relevant data. True, the Legislature amended the law in 1962, and then again in 1969. But there is nothing that indicates this was due to an “experiment” that “failed so badly.”

Powerful special interests lobbied the Legislature to make sure lucrative lawsuits could still be filed over the workers’ compensation system. That’s why the law was changed.

Then, in the late 1970s, after the Legislature passed a law codifying a standard that shares liability among culpable parties for any lawsuit filed in New York, the Court of Appeals decided on its own that this standard would not apply to Scaffold Law cases.

A broad coalition that includes Habitat for Humanity and the New York State School Boards Association, among many others, has been advocating for years to fix the law and right the high court’s wrong.

Let’s put aside the rhetoric and look at the facts: Not only are construction liability costs higher here than in neighboring states (sometimes even on the same cross-border project), data shows that New York’s worksite safety record is average, at best.

Personal injury lawyers are the only beneficiaries of keeping the law the way it is, which is why they will defend it no matter what the facts are.

Adam Morey

Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

Albany

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