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New York City Labor Law And Civil Litigation Blog

Construction worker suffers fatal fall down elevator shaft

According to authorities, a 22-year-old construction worker died last Friday after falling down an elevator shaft at a Manhattan construction site -- making it the most recent construction fatality in a long string of incidents stretching back over the last few years.

While the details of the accident are still unclear, authorities say the victim, later identified as a resident of Yonkers, was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to a report by PIX 11.

Study: Traffic deaths down slightly in 2017, still up over 2015

The National Safety Council, a nonprofit that has tracked traffic injury and fatality trends for nearly 100 years, has released its preliminary numbers for the first half of 2017. There's good news and there's bad news.

The good news is that the group observed about a 1-percent drop in the traffic fatality rate this year over the first half of 2016. The bad news is that the rate remains 8 percent higher than it was in the same period of 2015. Unfortunately, 2016's tally represented a substantial jump over the two previous years.

Is anyone ever held accountable for wrongful convictions?

Sadly, the criminal justice system in New York is far from perfect. In fact, we often hear of cases in which innocent individuals are convicted and sent to prison, only to be freed years later when it is learned that they were victims of wrongful convictions.

While some of these individuals are cleared of wrongdoing based on DNA evidence, others have their convictions overturned after it is discovered that faulty eyewitness identifications or false/fraudulent evidence was used to convict them --or worse, prosecutors withheld evidence or influenced witness testimony. In some cases, courts will free victims of wrongful convictions because police officers coerced a false confession or manipulated evidence.

Outstanding NYC warrant for a minor offense? It may be dismissed

In a bid to reduce the number of people who pass through city jails and criminal courts on minor charges, the district attorneys of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan have moved to dismiss 644,494 warrants. These warrants were issued over the past 10 years for minor crimes such as public drinking or riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.

The warrant amnesty affects all boroughs except Staten Island and makes a deep cut into the 1.6 million warrants the city had built up in its system. In making the decision to hold the amnesty, the DAs tried to balance public safety concerns with the need for leniency in order to reduce burdens on the courts. Additionally, the city is facing a federal lawsuit over its stop-and-frisk practices, which created many of the warrants.

Biking is booming in NYC -- but is the city doing enough to protect riders?

Have you been paying attention to the streets in New York City lately? If so, you have probably noticed more bike riders than ever before.

In fact, according to a recent report by The New York Times, city officials estimate that there are more than 450,000 bike trips in the city every day -- representing a 165 percent increase from 170,000 daily bike trips in 2005.

Study: Older people are working longer, fatal injuries are rising

A 2013 Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll asked older American workers -- those between about 55 and 70 -- about their job duties. A full 44 percent reported that their jobs required physical effort either "most of the time" or "almost all of the time." And yes, 36 percent reported that they have a harder time completing those physical duties than they used to.

Age does seem to bring about distressing changes, both physically and mentally, that can make physical work more challenging. That doesn't mean that older people aren't sticking around longer, even in construction and the trades. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of older people in the labor force grew by 37 percent, even though the overall labor force only grew by 6 percent. The federal government estimates that people between the ages of 55 and 70 will account for 25 percent of the labor market by 2024.

Top 10 OSHA violations on construction sites

Despite the fact that there are several rules and regulations in place to protect construction workers, countless injuries occur every year on construction sites throughout New York City. In many cases, these injuries are the direct result of decisions made by property owners and general contractors to skirt -- or outright ignore -- these mandatory safety guidelines.

While it is impossible for safety regulators to identify every safety violation that occurs on every single construction site, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the top-10 most frequently cited violations for 2016, which include:

Common reasons why wrongful convictions occur

Wrongful convictions are a serious problem, particularly in New York. In fact, just yesterday we wrote about a top Brooklyn politician who wants to set up a special commission to investigate wrongful convictions, their causes and the people to blame.

What is particularly scary about wrongful convictions is that some studies, including one published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have concluded that more than 4 percent of prisoners sentenced to death -- or 1 in 25 -- would be exonerated if given enough time to prove their innocence.

Brooklyn politician, former cop, wants wrongful conviction panel

Brooklyn's borough president is lobbying the state to create a special commission to investigate and resolve wrongful convictions. In his county, over two dozen convictions, including some for murder, have been overturned since 2014, and he wants an independent commission set up to "examine exactly what went wrong here and who's culpable."

"Releasing innocent people is not the end. It is only the beginning," said the politician, who is also a former police captain.

Is your subway or rail line delayed or down for repair? Be careful if you choose to bike instead.

With constant delays, crowded platforms and numerous service interruptions, New Yorkers who rely on commuter rail and the subway system are truly experiencing a "Summer of Hell" -- a phrase first used by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to describe the problems New Yorkers are going to face when using public transportation this summer.

Specifically, the "Summer of Hell" runs from July 10 to September 1, and coincides with emergency repairs to Penn Station, a major transportation hub for hundreds of thousands of New York commuters.

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