Calif. lawmakers move to limit liability in scuba accidents

Chris Rizo Jan. 22, 2010, 12:45pm

Diane Harkey (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Government entities in California would be immune from most lawsuits over scuba diving accidents, under a bill working its way through the state's Legislature.

Assembly Bill 634 would add scuba diving to the long list of "hazardous recreational activities" for which government employees and government entities have qualified immunity under Section 831.7 of the state Government Code.

Activities on the list already include: pistol and rifle shooting, animal riding, bike racing, kayaking, surfing, waterskiing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing and hang gliding.

The bill cleared the state Assembly Tuesday and is headed now for the state Senate, where its passage is expected.

Authored by Republican state Assemblywoman Diane Harkey of Dana Point, the bill would not provide immunity in cases where the government agency or public employee was negligent or in cases where officials failed to guard or warn of a known dangerous condition.

The bill also includes an exception in cases where permission to participate in the hazardous recreational activity was granted for a specific fee except when the fee is a general purpose one such as for park admission.

The bipartisan-backed legislation was supported by the Civil Justice Association of California, the state's tort reform lobby.

"State and local governments should not face liability for risks assumed by people who engage in hazardous activities," the group said in a letter to Assembly lawmakers, urging them to approve the bill.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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