Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/05/2003 01:07 PM Senate JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        SB 176-CIVIL LIABILITY FOR LIVESTOCK ACTIVITIES                                                                     
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SB 176 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
SENATOR THERRIAULT made  a motion to adopt amendment  1 to insert                                                               
"domestic" before "cow", "bison", "musk  ox" and "elk" on page 4,                                                               
to insert "legally possessed" before  "caribou" and on line 21 to                                                               
delete  "duck or"  before  "alpaca" and  insert  "or water  fowl,                                                               
which  does  not  require  a   federal  permit".  He  wanted  the                                                               
amendment to  be conceptual  because he  didn't know  whether the                                                               
drafter  would want  to repeat  the word  domestic. There  was no                                                               
objection and it was so adopted.                                                                                                
MR.  JIM  DOUGLAS,  Cooperative   Extension  Service,  State  4-H                                                               
Office, said  he has  also worked with  domestic livestock  as an                                                               
agricultural agent for the last  30 years. 4-H has good liability                                                               
coverage  for  the  leaders,  but  when kids  want  to  go  to  a                                                               
livestock judging  contest to make  a comparison of  animals they                                                               
have not  seen before, they  put those owners in  the contentious                                                               
position of having to decide whether  they want the kids on their                                                               
property or  not. What  happens if  the kid  gets hurt  - whether                                                               
it's a rabbit bite or a horse kick?                                                                                             
Another  very contentious  problem  is for  veterinarians in  the                                                               
state. They  cannot come  on your  property and  ask you  to hold                                                               
your rabbit  while they check it.  If your rabbit bites  you, the                                                               
veterinarian  becomes  liable. Working  with  a  1,200 lb.  horse                                                               
would then  require a vet  and his  assistant. Now more  vets are                                                               
refusing  to  treat  horses  simply   because  of  the  liability                                                               
insurance. In the  course of treatment it's not  uncommon for the                                                               
vet to inflict some pain causing the animal to strike out.                                                                      
SB  176  just  raises  the  level of  proof  to  avoid  frivolous                                                               
lawsuits. Many  of the small Mat-Su  farmers would be put  out of                                                               
business with just one situation like this.                                                                                     
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked  if  there would  be  a  problem  with                                                               
deleting parades from the list  of livestock activities listed on                                                               
page 4,  line 25. He  thought a horse in  a parade might  bolt if                                                               
spooked  and  the  watchers  are  subject  to  limited  liability                                                               
without knowing it.                                                                                                             
SENATOR  OGAN asked  if it  was simple  negligence when  a person                                                               
lets an inexperienced young person ride a spirited horse.                                                                       
SENATOR FRENCH replied that would be negligent entrustment.                                                                     
CHAIR  SEEKINS pointed  out language  on  page 3,  line 16,  that                                                               
said:  "...the  failure  of a  livestock  activity  sponsored  by                                                               
professionals  to  make  a  reasonable   and  prudent  effort  to                                                               
determine the  ability of  the participant  to safely  manage the                                                               
livestock activity."                                                                                                            
MR.  DOUGLAS explained  that liability  issues  have arisen  when                                                               
they did not  bother to ask about the experience  of the rider to                                                               
see if they were capable of handling a horse.                                                                                   
SENATOR ELLIS arrived at 1:39 p.m.                                                                                              
SENATOR  OGAN  pointed out  that  language  on  page 3,  line  3,                                                               
covered livestock participants, but not livestock owners.                                                                       
CHAIR SEEKINS  replied if  you're a  livestock owner,  under this                                                               
bill, you would be a livestock activity sponsor.                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT moved  amendment 2 to exclude  parades on page                                                               
4, line 25. There was no objection and it was so ordered.                                                                       
SENATOR   THERRIAULT  asked   if  there   was  a   section  about                                                               
transportation of  animals. He  wanted to  know if  an individual                                                               
was  choosing  to take  part  in  a  livestock activity  if  they                                                               
approached a horse van parked in a town.                                                                                        
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he thought  the bill referred to  people that                                                               
place  themselves  in  proximity  to  livestock  for  any  reason                                                               
involving an activity.                                                                                                          
SENATOR THERRIAULT made  a motion to adopt amendment  3 to insert                                                               
"knowingly" on  page 2, line  28, to  clarify that. There  was no                                                               
objection and amendment 3 was adopted.                                                                                          
SENATOR FRENCH  said he  was thinking  about trailer  hitches and                                                               
how this  might affect a person  pulling his horses in  a trailer                                                               
with a  passenger in his car.  The trailer isn't hooked  up right                                                               
and  it comes  off killing  the passenger.  Is the  passenger not                                                               
able to recover because he  knowingly put himself in the vicinity                                                               
of a livestock activity (trailering horses)?                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  replied that he  didn't anticipate that to  be the                                                               
case. He  thought it  would be  grossly negligent  to not  hook a                                                               
trailer up right.  He noted language on page 3,  line 12, said if                                                               
a person knows "equipment, tack  or other product provided by the                                                               
activities'  sponsor" is  defective,  that would  be exempt  from                                                               
this bill.                                                                                                                      
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked what activity  traveling was intended to                                                               
cover, transport to and from a rodeo?                                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS answered  that it was common to take  your horse to                                                               
a  fair and  rodeos, etc.  and  contestants often  ride with  the                                                               
owner of the trailer.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  THERRIAULT moved  to pass  CSSB 176(JUD)  from committee                                                               
with individual recommendations. There were  no objections and it                                                               
was so ordered.                                                                                                                 

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