SB387 (2018) Detail

Relative to liability of governmental units.


CHAPTER 125

SB 387-FN - FINAL VERSION

 

 

2018 SESSION

18-2795

06/05

 

SENATE BILL 387-FN

 

AN ACT relative to liability of governmental units.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Feltes, Dist 15; Rep. Rouillard, Hills. 6

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill modifies several provisions of law relating to bodily injury actions against governmental units.  The bill also raises liability limits in such actions to keep pace with inflation.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

18-2795

06/05

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eighteen

 

AN ACT relative to liability of governmental units.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

125:1  New Paragraph; Bodily Injury Actions Against Governmental Units; Definitions; Employee or Official of a Governmental Unit.  Amend RSA 507-B:1 by inserting after paragraph I the following new paragraph:

I-a.  "Employee or official of a governmental unit" means any member or officer of its governing board, administrative staff, or agencies, including but not limited to county employees, selectmen, school board members, chartered public school trustees, city councilors and aldermen, town councilors, town and city managers, mayors, regional planning commissioners, town and city health officials, police officers, overseers of public welfare, superintendents of schools, and all other employees and officials whether elected or appointed, and whether paid or unpaid, provided he or she is acting within the scope of his or her official duties.

125:2  Bodily Injury Actions Against Governmental Units; Definitions; Personal Injury; Property Damage.  Amend RSA 507-B:1, III and IV to read as follows:

III.  "Personal injury'' means:

(a)  Any injury to the feelings or reputation of a natural person, including but not limited to, false arrest, detention or imprisonment, malicious prosecution, libel, slander, or the publication or utterance of other defamatory or disparaging material, invasion of an individual's right of privacy, invasion of the right of private occupancy, wrongful entry or eviction, mental injury, mental anguish, shock, and, except when against the public policy or the laws of New Hampshire, or both, discrimination; and

(b)  Any injury to intangible property sustained by any [organization] person as a result of false eviction, malicious prosecution, libel, slander, or defamation.  

The term "personal injury'' shall not include "bodily injury'' or "property damage.''

IV.  "Property damage'' means a loss through injury to, or destruction of, tangible property or real estate.

125:3  Bodily Injury Actions Against Governmental Units; Snow, Ice, and Other Weather Hazards.  Amend RSA 507-B:2-b to read as follows:

507-B:2-b  Snow, Ice, and Other Weather Hazards.  Notwithstanding RSA 507-B:2, a [municipality or school district] governmental unit shall not be liable for damage arising from insufficiencies or hazards on any premises owned, occupied, maintained, or operated by it, even if it has actual notice of them, when such hazards are caused solely by snow, ice, or other inclement weather, and the [municipality's or school district's] governmental unit's failure or delay in removing or mitigating such hazards is the result of its implementation, absent gross negligence or reckless disregard of the hazard, of a winter or inclement weather maintenance policy or set of priorities with respect to such premises, adopted in good faith by the official responsible for such policy.  All [municipal or school district employees,] governmental units, officials, and agents shall be presumed to be acting pursuant to such a policy or set of priorities in the absence of proof to the contrary.

125:4  Bodily Injury Actions Against Governmental Units; Limit of Liability.  Amend RSA 507-B:4 to read as follows:

507-B:4  Limit of Liability.

I.  Liability of a governmental unit for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage sustained by any one person in actions brought under this chapter is limited to [$275,000] $325,000.  Such limit applies in the aggregate to any and all actions to recover for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage [arising out of bodily injury, personal injury or property damage] sustained by one person in a single incident or occurrence.  Liability of a governmental unit for bodily injury, personal injury, or property damage sustained by any number of persons in a single incident or occurrence is limited to [$925,000] $1,000,000.  The limits applicable to any action shall be the limits in effect at the time of the judgment or [stipulated] settlement.

II.  The court shall award no punitive damages against a governmental unit for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage.

III.  The jury shall not be informed of the limits in paragraph I but the court shall abate any verdict to the extent it exceeds the limits prescribed in this section.  In actions consolidated under RSA 507-B:3, in the event the verdicts exceed the limits prescribed in this section, the verdicts shall be abated pro rata.  Interest and costs may be recovered as in any civil action, in addition to the limits prescribed in this section.

IV.  If any claim is made or any civil action is commenced against a present or former employee, trustee, or official of a [municipality or chartered public school] governmental unit seeking equitable relief or claiming damages, the liability of said employee or official shall be governed by the same principles and provisions of law and shall be subject to the same limits as those which govern [municipal] governmental unit liability, so long as said employee or official was acting within the scope of his or her office and [in good faith] reasonably believed in the legality of his or her actions.

125:5  Defense and Indemnification of State Officers and Employees; Insurance.  Amend RSA 99-D:3 to read as follows:

99-D:3  Insurance.  The state, or any department or agency thereof, shall self-insure against all such damages, losses, and expenses except to the extent that insurance coverage is obtained under the authority of [RSA 507-B] RSA 9:27.  [The fiscal committee of the general court shall study alternative means to self-insurance by the state and shall report its findings to the general court not later than January 31, 1979.  The fiscal committee shall be free to seek the assistance of the insurance department, the attorney general's office, and any other resource individuals.]

125:6  Claims Against the State; Limitation on Claims.  Amend RSA 541-B:14, I to read as follows:

I.  All claims arising out of any single incident against any agency for damages in tort actions shall be limited to an award not to exceed $475,000 per claimant and $3,750,000 per any single incident, or the proceeds from any insurance policy procured pursuant to [RSA 507-B] RSA 9:27, whichever amount is greater; except that no claim for punitive damages may be awarded under this chapter.  The limits applicable to any action shall be the limits in effect at the time of the judgment or [stipulated] settlement.

125:7  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.

 

Approved: May 30, 2018

Effective Date: May 30, 2018

 

 

Links

SB387 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Jan. 9, 2018 Senate Hearing
Feb. 1, 2018 Senate Floor Vote
March 20, 2018 House Hearing
April 11, 2018 House Exec Session
April 26, 2018 House Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

SB387 Revision: 4040 Date: May 31, 2018, 3:34 p.m.
SB387 Revision: 3642 Date: April 27, 2018, 9:06 a.m.
SB387 Revision: 2588 Date: Dec. 12, 2017, 12:28 p.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 3, 2018 To Be Introduced 01/03/2018 and Referred to Judiciary; SJ 1
Jan. 9, 2018 Hearing: 01/09/2018, Room 100, SH, 10:00 am; SC 48
Feb. 1, 2018 Committee Report: Ought to Pass, 02/01/2018; SC 5
Feb. 1, 2018 Ought to Pass: MA, VV; OT3rdg; 02/01/2018; SJ 3
March 7, 2018 Introduced 03/07/2018 and referred to Judiciary HJ 7 P. 51
March 20, 2018 Public Hearing: 03/20/2018 10:30 AM LOB 208
April 11, 2018 Executive Session: 04/11/2018 LOB 208
April 26, 2018 Committee Report: Ought to Pass for 04/26/2018 (Vote 16-0; RC) HC 16 P. 14
April 26, 2018 Ought to Pass: MA VV 04/26/2018
May 3, 2018 Enrolled 05/03/2018
May 3, 2018 Enrolled (In recess 05/03/2018); SJ 17
May 30, 2018 Signed by the Governor on 05/30/2018; Chapter 0125; Effective 05/30/2018