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Letter: Scaffold law unfairly penalizes employers

A construction worker sets up scaffolding.

A construction worker sets up scaffolding. Photo Credit: AP

In an argument in favor of New York's notorious scaffold law, a letter writer says his accident proves the law is necessary ["Scaffold law still much needed," July 18]. If anything, accidents like his show why the law needs to be fixed.

The scaffold law holds contractors and property owners 100 percent liable, even if they were only 1 percent at fault. My organization, and many others -- including the New York State School Boards Association, Habitat for Humanity and the New York State Conference of Mayors -- seek to reform the law to make liability proportional to fault. This is how it is done in every other state and every other aspect of our civil justice system.

By skewing liability entirely to one party, the scaffold law creates perverse safety incentives. Employers are not incentivized because they are guilty under nearly any circumstance, and employees are not incentivized because they cannot be held accountable.

Until Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature reform the law, injuries like the letter writer's will continue to happen, and we will all pay for it.

Thomas B. Stebbins, Albany

Editor's note: The writer is executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, a lobbying organization.