In today’s New York Daily News, Bill Hammond calls for Scaffold Law reform and takes opponents to task on their claims about the law.
The case for finally fixing New York’s so-called Scaffold Law — which needlessly drives up construction costs for everything from apartment towers to bridges to public schools — has never been stronger than now.
First, because the liability insurance market for builders is heading for a breaking point that, if it isn’t averted, could put the brakes on the entire construction industry, with devastating consequences for the economy.
Hammond cuts through the rhetoric and takes a hard look at the facts:
Rather than dispute the devastating facts, defenders of the lawsuit-happy status quo are pushing back with a tired and disingenuous argument: That reformers want to “gut” the law in ways that would jeopardize the lives of hardhats and deny them just compensation when they get hurt.
No part of that claim holds up to serious scrutiny.
Leaving reform opponents’ arguments in shreds, he concludes by bringing some much-needed perspective to the situation:
Also distorted is their claim that reformers would leave injured workers in the cold. Under the reform as proposed — not just by contractors, but also a broad coalition of local governments and small businesses -— injured workers would still have every right to sue and, if they were truly victimized by negligence, collect big damages.
But the judge and jury would use “comparative negligence,” meaning they would look at the facts, divvy up the blame and apportion the damages accordingly.
That’s the same standard that applies in every other state — and in every other kind of lawsuit filed in New York. It’s a modest, reasonable fix that would save big bucks and, if what happened in Illinois is any guide, might save lives as well. What is Albany waiting for?