NYC’s listing as “Judicial Hellhole” Should Remind Albany of the Need for Tort Reform

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) today said that lawmakers in Albany who would like to keep tort reform on the back burner should read a new report today by a national group that named New York City one of the country’s worst “Judicial Hellholes.”

“They cited the Scaffold law, which we’ve been pushing to reform for years,” said NFIB State Director Mike Durant. “It’s another embarrassing distinction that is a red flag to business investors here and around the world.”

The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) this morning released its annual “Judicial Hellholes” report identifying the most legally perilous jurisdictions in the country for businesses.  New York City made the top six and it cited the Scaffold Law as the number one problem.

“The Scaffold Law is a bonanza for trial lawyers but it’s a nightmare for small businesses in the construction industry,” said Durant.  “It ruins businesses, scares away bidders and drives up prices and taxes in a state that’s uncompetitive already.”

Under the Scaffold Law, workers who are injured in gravity-related accidents (like falling off a scaffold), can sue their employers, often for millions, regardless of whether or how much they contributed to the negligence.  It’s one of the main reasons that liability insurance for builders, painters, electricians and other construction firms is exorbitantly high in New York.

“There are some very powerful interests in New York that have fought tooth and nail for decades to protect this law despite it’s obviously negative impact on the state’s economy,” said Durant.  “We’re pushing very hard to change that next year and we hope that lawmakers and the Governor take this report seriously.

“We’re already ranked at the bottom of all states because of our tax climate,” he continued.  “This report suggests that our legal climate is just as bad and that demands attention from Albany.”

To view the ATRA report, click hereFor more information about NFIB please visit www.nfib.com.

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About Mike Durant

Mike Durant was named New York State Director of NFIB in May 2011. Prior to joining NFIB as the Assistant State Director in May 2010, Durant began his career in the New York Senate working in the Office of Member Services. From there, he served in a number of positions during former New York Governor George E. Pataki’s administration. As a Research Specialist in the New York State Office of Demographic Policy, Mike was responsible for drafting a redistricting proposal for Governor Pataki. In addition, Mike served as a Research Specialist for the Empire State Development Corporation, as well as the Associate Commissioner of Human Resource Management with the New York Department of Labor. Durant also spent four years working at the Questar III BOCES as a specialist focusing on the complex formulas that drive aid to school districts across the state while also taking a lead role in the state legislative/budget process as it related to education policy. These past positions have given Mike a deep understanding of the complex political economics of the State of New York. Active in the community, Durant has served on a number of boards in both the village of Ballston Spa and Town of Milton. Durant received his bachelor’s degree from Siena College in Loudonville, New York and resides in Ballston Spa with his wife and two children.
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