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Lame-Duck Republican Urges Dismantling Scaffold Law

New York State

Scaffold Law Foe
Nov. 28, 2018

Aggressive lobbying campaigns have repeatedly failed to do it. Now a lame-duck New York Congressman is pleading with the Trump administration to help rid New York State of its’ so-called Scaffold Law, the only one in the nation that holds building owners, including co-op and condo boards, liable for any gravity-related injury to workers. 

Departing upstate Rep. John Faso, a Republican, has written a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, urging her to tear down the Scaffold Law, Crain’s reports. Faso’s letter notes that every other state in the country uses a standard of comparative negligence, which can hold workers responsible for job-site accidents. Under the New York law, a co-op or condo board without proper indemnification can be held liable if a worker is injured while drunk or failing to use proper safety equipment. 

Jason Schiciano, president of Tarrytown-based Levitt-Fuirst Associates insurance brokerage, joined the group lobbying the New York General Assembly to repeal the Scaffold Law earlier this year. He estimates that the law adds at least 10 percent to co-op and condo insurance premiums – and probably considerably more. That’s pocket change. Documents from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board meeting last summer showed that insurance costs on the decade-delayed East Side Access Project to link the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal have ballooned 557 percent

In his letter to Chao, who is the wife of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Faso wrote: "I urge you to use your regulatory authority to preempt this burdensome state law. By requiring no funds may be allocated towards a project in which an absolute liability standard may be applied, you can stretch funds allocated to NYS projects further than previously realized." 

In his letter, Faso also alluded to the $30 billion Gateway Project, which the Trump administration has resisted funding. It would repair and replace crucial Amtrak links between New York and New Jersey.

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