Bill Text - SB387 (2018)

Relative to liability of governmental units.


Revision: April 27, 2018, 9:06 a.m.

SB 387-FN - VERSION ADOPTED BY BOTH BODIES

 

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.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

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.]

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.

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

 

LBAO

18-2795

11/30/17

 

SB 387-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to liability of governmental units.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [    ] State              [ X ] County               [ X ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

COUNTY:

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill makes changes to the statutes relative to bodily injury actions and increases the damage limits in personal injury actions against governmental units.  

 

The New Hampshire Municipal Association states the increased damage limits may lead to increased civil liability for municipalities in some personal injury actions.  Those liabilities may or may not be covered by liability insurance.  The effect will vary on a case-by-case basis but the overall effect of the increases is expected to increase municipal expenditures for liability insurance by an indeterminable amount.  There should be no impact on municipal revenues.

 

The New Hampshire Association of Counties, in consultation with the County Administrators Group and their Risk Manager, determined there will be no significant fiscal impact to the counties.

 

The Department of Administrative Services indicates the State of New Hampshire is excluded from the definition of "governmental units" under RSA 507-B:1 and is therefore not impacted by the bill.  The technical changes to RSA 99-D:3 and RSA 541-B:14 to delete references to RSA 507-B and replace them with references to RSA 9:27 also do not have a fiscal impact on the state.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

New Hampshire Municipal Association, New Hampshire Association of Counties, and Department of Administrative Services

 

 

SB 387-FN - VERSION ADOPTED BY BOTH BODIES

 

 

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

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------

 

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.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

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:

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.]

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.

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

 

LBAO

18-2795

11/30/17

 

SB 387-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to liability of governmental units.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [    ] State              [ X ] County               [ X ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

COUNTY:

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill makes changes to the statutes relative to bodily injury actions and increases the damage limits in personal injury actions against governmental units.  

 

The New Hampshire Municipal Association states the increased damage limits may lead to increased civil liability for municipalities in some personal injury actions.  Those liabilities may or may not be covered by liability insurance.  The effect will vary on a case-by-case basis but the overall effect of the increases is expected to increase municipal expenditures for liability insurance by an indeterminable amount.  There should be no impact on municipal revenues.

 

The New Hampshire Association of Counties, in consultation with the County Administrators Group and their Risk Manager, determined there will be no significant fiscal impact to the counties.

 

The Department of Administrative Services indicates the State of New Hampshire is excluded from the definition of "governmental units" under RSA 507-B:1 and is therefore not impacted by the bill.  The technical changes to RSA 99-D:3 and RSA 541-B:14 to delete references to RSA 507-B and replace them with references to RSA 9:27 also do not have a fiscal impact on the state.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

New Hampshire Municipal Association, New Hampshire Association of Counties, and Department of Administrative Services