From the Daily News:
The Scaffold Law is the last of its kind in the nation. The thrust of it is this: If a construction worker using scaffolding or a ladder is injured, the burden is on the contractor to prove the job site was safe.
But now a furious battle is unfolding in Albany to remake the law, pitting some of the most powerful political interests in New York against each other, with hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance premiums and payouts — and, some argue, the safety of workers — hanging in the balance.
The law simply states that contractors and owners must protect workers from falls by using equipment that is “constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection.” It is silent on the issue of a worker’s liability in an accident.
Legislation sponsored by Sen. Patrick Gallivan (R-Erie) and Assemblyman Joe Morelle, a Rochester Democrat, would for the first time add language that requires juries to consider the actions of workers in weighing injury lawsuits.
A coalition of developers and contractors organized by the pro-business Lawsuit Reform Alliance is aggressively pushing lawmakers to pass it by June 20, when the legislature is set to adjourn.
A flurry of bills is expected to pass at the last minute, and both sides believe the Scaffold Law amendment is in play.
In years past, contractors and the powerful Real Estate Board of New York have tried to kill the law outright. They failed, due in part to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who is of counsel to a law firm that specializes in personal injury cases.