NYSCIC MEETING MINUTES - January 20, 2004
Jack Endryck, Chair BIE
Johnny Evers, The Business Council
Frank DeSantis, Sweet Contractors
Jeff Elmer, GCA
Victor Macri, VMJR Companies
Christopher Lindsay, ECA
Joe Hogan, GBC
John Nerney, ABC
Liz Elvin, AGC
Michael Murphy, Couch White
Andrew Boron, CNA
Tom Lutz, PIANY
Robert LaBombard, Lovell Safety
Jeff Cintula, LeChase
Bill Goodrich, LeChase
Edwyna Barstow, Oak Tree Homes
Diana Georgia, Coppola Ryan McHugh
Bob Moses, BSK
Jean Kase, Rochester Business Alliance
Jeff Zogg, GBC
Mike Misenhimer, ESSA
Mark Alesse, NFIB
Kerry Kirwan, The Business Council
January 20, 2004, 3pm - 5pm
- Welcome and Introductions, Jack Endryck, Building Industry Employers
of New York State, Chairman of NYSCIC
- Guest Speaker, Joseph A. DeMauro,
Deputy Superintendent, New York State Department of Insurance.
Mr. DeMauro addressed the committee in regards to the recently concluded hearings conducted by his department on the issue of general liability insurance. The hearings centered on whether the Department should invoke NYPIUA (New York Property Insurance Underwriters Association) to widen the insurance markets in general liability. The hearings also proved to be an overwhelming indictment of 240/241 of the Labor Law by many who testified. Many of those who testified, including NYSCIC, urged reform of the law. Many also stated that insurance coverage has increased between 300% to 500%. Under the State Insurance Code there are statutory proceeding that allow the Department to expand the market (NYPIUA). This is what the Department is trying to determine in light of the hearings. If the Department interprets the crisis as an event exhibiting "a lack of meaningful coverage" the State Insurance Department can act accordingly.
The members of the committee stated that they believed that the hearings, as well as the current crisis in obtaining insurance at all, even at exorbitant premiums, should make it clear that action needs to be taken. The problem as outlined by NYSCIC and its members in the area of general liability insurance is clear: 240/241 of the Labor Law. We urged the Deputy Superintendent to relay that message to the Department. Unless there is reform, an expansion of the insurance market would not address the root of the issue [240/241]. The committee stated that Legislature, the Governor and the Department should seek a change to the law.
In light of the hearings, the Blake decision (enclosed) was discussed. With a less strict interpretation of 240/241 by the State Court of Appeals, it is hoped that the strict liability interpretation be changed. However, it was noted that the decision is only one of several by the court and even the judge who wrote the decision has, in the past, upheld strict liability. More needs to be done on studying the Blake decision and it was agreed that this does not change the strategy in regards to 240/241 -- it needs repeal. The committee re-stated its support for the Morelle/ Volker safety bill. A.7213/S.1710.
The committee asked that a letter of thanks be sent to Mr. DeMauro for speaking before NYSCIC. It was also suggested that we reiterate our hope that the department push for legislation to repeal 240/241 in the letter of thanks to the Deputy Commissioner.
- Tort Reform
Mr. Mark Alesse of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the New Yorkers for Civil Justice Reform spoke before the committee.
The tort reform coalition will again be asking for repeal of 240/241 and will have a lobby day to highlight the issue of Tort Reform. Also, Small Business Day (co-sponsored by The Business Council, CANYS and NFIB) will highlight insurance, specifically Workers Comp and general liability) as part of the March 23, 2004 event.
NYSCIC stated that it will participate in Small Business Day and also a general construction industry lobby day on March 30, 2004.
- Workers Comp (WC)
Kerry Kirwan of The Business Council discussed the WC issue. The Business Council will have a WC meeting in late January and will again be supporting a reform bill sponsored by Assemblyman Schimminger and Sen. Libous. This bill has four (4) main provision:
- Durational limits for permanent partial disabilities - 500 week cap
- Objective medical guidelines
- Old age social security offsets and employer sponsored pension offsets
- Scheduled loss of use awards (If the award is for
20 weeks and the employee only uses a portion of that time - the remaining
time will be paid at half the amount).
- Budget discussion
The Committee briefly discussed the Executive Budget and the $5 billion deficit. In that regard, it was mentioned by committee members that if NYSCIC could quantify the impact of 240/241 more attention would be paid to the issue. The committee will look into that possibility.
- Next Meeting
NYSCIC will meet on April 14 at 1:30 to 3pm at The Business Council's Offices in Albany.