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N.Y. governor signs bill to raise penalty for criminal liability in workplace deaths

workplace deaths

New York construction companies that are found criminally liable for worker injuries or deaths will face a fine of up to $1 million, under legislation recently signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The governor also signed a bill declaring no finding or decision from the Workers’ Compensation Board, judge or arbiter will have collateral estoppel effect in any other action or proceeding arising from the same occurrence, other than the determination of the existence of an employer-employee relationship.

Gov. Hochul on Dec. 23 signed S. 621 and A. 4947, both named “Carlos’ Law” after a 22-year-old worker who died at a construction site that was repeatedly cited for safety violations.

Under this bill a corporation convicted of a felony leading to the death or injury of a worker can be fined $500,000 to $1 million. A corporation convicted of a misdemeanor involving the death or injury of a worker can be fined $300,000 to $500,000.

Gov. Hochul on Dec. 31 signed S. 9149 and A. 10349, limiting the preclusive effect of Workers’ Compensation Board decisions in trials involving a worker injured through negligence or wrongful conduct of third parties. The measure declares that WCB decisions in such cases would not be granted collateral estoppel effect in subsequent related actions, with the exception of board determinations on the existence of an employer-employee relationship.

Collateral estoppel, also known as issue preclusion, prevents relitigating issues of fact or law already decided by a court.

WorkCompCentral is a sister publication of Business Insurance. More stories here.