Businesses in the Buffalo, N.Y., area have sued the state of New York in federal court over the Scaffold Law.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2006 in U.S. District Court in Buffalo by Businesses for a Better New York, a group that represents more than 20 builders, subcontractors, and insurance agents.

The group says the Scaffold Law's strict liability clause makes employers entirely responsible for all scaffolding-related accidents on the jobsite.

LAW REPEAL: Builders in New York sued in federal court to have the state's Scaffold Law  repealed.
LAW REPEAL: Builders in New York sued in federal court to have the state's Scaffold Law repealed.

The lawsuit claims this makes it almost impossible for businesses to defend themselves in court, making it easier for trial lawyers to win million-dollar decisions, while pushing insurance rates out of reach.

“Even if an employee comes to work drunk, we cannot defend ourselves,” says Frank DeCarlo, president of Paragon Restoration, one of the business group's members.

“We can get insurance, but it can cost up to $50,000 annually, and it doesn't cover a Scaffold Law case,” he says.

Stephen Gawlik, the assistant attorney general assigned to the case, refused to discuss the matter, but says he will file a motion to dismiss. He expects the motion will be heard this month.