OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6038

AN ACT CONCERNING GOOD SAMARITAN PROTECTIONS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS AND ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICERS WHO RENDER EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE TO ANIMALS.

SUMMARY

This bill immunizes first responders and animal control officers from being civilly liable to an owner for injuring an animal as a result of rendering emergency medical assistance to the animal. The immunity applies to acts or omissions that constitute ordinary negligence; it does not cover gross, willful, or wanton negligence.

The first responders covered by the bill are firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical service personnel.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

BACKGROUND

Connecticut's Good Samaritan Laws

Connecticut statutes make volunteers engaged in certain activities immune from lawsuits arising from acts of ordinary negligence. The primary source of volunteer protection is the state's Good Samaritan Law, which covers volunteers who provide emergency medical assistance or first aid (CGS 52-557b). The immunity does not apply to gross, willful, or wanton negligence.

Ordinary, Gross, and Willful and Wanton Negligence

“Ordinary negligence” is the failure to exercise the ordinary care that a prudent and reasonable person would (or would not) use under the same or similar circumstances (57A Am. Jur. 2d, Negligence 226 (2017)). “Gross negligence” generally signifies more than ordinary inadvertence or inattention, but less than a conscious indifference to consequences (Prosser on Torts, Gross Negligence). And although neither the Connecticut Appeals or Supreme courts have adopted a definition of “willful or wanton negligence,” the usual meaning assigned in legal treatises is an act intentionally done that is unreasonable, taken in disregard of a risk known to the actor or so obvious that he or she must be taken to have been aware of it, and so great as to make it highly probable that harm would follow (Restatement (2nd) of Torts, 500 (1965)).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Safety and Security Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

22

Nay

2

(03/08/2017)