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Legislation Protecting Citizen ‘Good Samaritan’ Actions Moves Forward in California

March 13th, 2009 · No Comments

The California State Assembly passed a measure Thursday to shield ‘Good Samaritans’ from lawsuits when they come to the aid of fellow citizens. The Assembly’s action comes in response to a California Supreme Court decision last year. According to an Associated Press report:

The bill by Assemblyman Mike Feuer was passed by a 74-0 vote. No lawmaker spoke in opposition. The Los Angeles Democrat introduced the bill after the California Supreme Court in December ruled that the state’s Good Samaritan law only protects people from liability if they are administering emergency medical care.

“We live in state where there are fires, there are floods and there are earthquakes, and our first responders can’t always get to the scene on time,” Feuer said during the floor debate. “We need to encourage Good Samaritans.”

December’s ruling stemmed out of a lawsuit brought by a Southern California woman whose friend pulled her from a wrecked car. Alexandra Van Horn was left paralyzed from the 2004 accident and she sued Lisa Torti for pulling her out of the car “like a rag doll.” Van Horn blamed her friend for her paralysis.

Torti had said she feared the car was going to explode and moved Van Horn to save her. The court’s ruling sparked widespread concern that would-be Good Samaritans would pass by accidents for fear of being sued if something went wrong. Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, said the measure would encourage Californians “to help one another in times of need and distress.” At the same time, the bill allows victims to sue in cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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Tags: Legal Rulings · State Preparedness

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