Letter: Scaffold law Absolutely too Strict

In today’s Schenectady Gazette, Scott Hobson of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance on New York responds to attorney Bruce Trachtenberg’s misleading claims about the Scaffold Law.

Bruce Trachtenberg [March 6 letter, “Scaffold Law is not really strict liability”] seems to want to split hairs over technical legal terms.

The Scaffold Law is in fact an “absolute” liability statute — although the terms “strict liability” and “absolute liability” are often used interchangeably.

Regardless of what you call it, the Scaffold Law, as the Court of Appeals recently noted, “imposes liability even on contractors and owners who had nothing to do with the plaintiff’s accident; and where a violation of the statute has caused injury, any fault by the plaintiff contributing to that injury is irrelevant.”

As for the “recalcitrant worker” defense, it is of little value since a plaintiff need only demonstrate that a contractor or property owner was as little as 1 percent at fault to win the case. It has had virtually no effect on the tide of lawsuits, which have surged by 500 percent since 1990 — even as the rate of construction injuries has fallen.

Read the full letter here

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