Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/05/2003 01:07 PM Senate JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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.