State of the State 2013: Statement From Tom Stebbins

Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address highlighted the extraordinary strides New York has taken in the last year.  However, if the state continues to ignore the detrimental effect of our antiquated legal system on our private and public sectors, New York will continue to struggle to add jobs, rebuild our infrastructure and improve our economic climate.

A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed that legal reforms could add over 200,000 jobs to the state, and a recent report from the Pacific Research Institute found that these reforms could increase the state’s annual output by over $17B annually.  Just a handful of legal reforms could save the state billions each year.  Among them:

  • Reform New York’s Labor Law 240/241, also known as the “Scaffold Law,” and join the 49 other states which do not impose such draconian restrictions on contractors and property owners. As New York struggles to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, the Scaffold Law imposes millions in unnecessary costs on those rebuilding our state.  As this administration admirably seeks to improve our state’s infrastructure, the Scaffold Law will continue to ensure that state dollars on projects like the Tappan Zee Bridge are wasted on a law that only benefits a small constituency, New York’s trial lawyers.
  • Enact Fair Share Liability so that defendants who are found 1% responsible are not forced pay 100% of a judgment.  Municipalities are often roped into lawsuits because of New York’s current doctrine of joint and several liability.  As a recent study from the University at Albany shows, our municipalities pay over a billion dollars in lawsuits costs every year.  By enacting Fair Share Liability, New York would ensure that only those that are a majority responsible would pay the full judgment, limiting lawsuit abuse against our municipalities.  Any mandate relief effort should include Fair Share Liability.

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