Enforcement of new crane law enjoined

Buildings amended crane law to stop crane owners from de-rating crane tonnage capacity. As part of Buildings’ new construction code, a provision was enacted to limit Class C1 licensed crane operators to single control stations. The provision was meant to limit crane owners’ ability to de-rate a crane’s maximum load capacity. De-rating is the practice of reporting that a crane has a lesser ton capacity than it actually has so that a lower licensee, a Class C1 licensee, can operate the crane. A crane with a capacity greater than 50 tons must be operated by a crane operator with a Class A license, a license that is less readily available in the industry. Before enacting the new provision, Buildings inspectors were having difficulty enforcing the licensing scheme because there was no obvious visual means of ascertaining a crane’s actual tonnage capacity. The new provision limited Class C1 licensees to operating single control station cranes because dual cab cranes tended to be larger and had maximum load capacities exceeding 50 tons. By limiting Class C1 operators to single control stations, Buildings could visually observe violations and better enforce compliance.

In 2008, a group of crane owners filed an article 78 petition, challenging the constitutionality of the provision and seeking to enjoin Buildings from enforcing it. A lower court granted a temporary injunction, ruling that the crane owners would likely succeed in showing that the provision as worded was unconstitutional, and that enforcement would cause irreparable harm to the crane owners. The court further ruled that the limit on Class C1 operators to single control stations made the provision arbitrary and capricious because it was not related to what Buildings was trying to regulate.

On appeal, the First Department affirmed, agreeing with the lower court and ruling that the injunction served to preserve the status quo until a full hearing on the merits. The court further ruled that maintaining the injunction would allow crane owners who had dual cab cranes with load capacities of 50 tons or less to continue operating those cranes with Class C1 operators.

All American Crane Service Inc. v. Omram, 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 00098 (1st Dep’t Jan. 13, 2009).

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