Assembly Bill 555 (Campbell – 1983)
Chapter 863, Statutes of 1983, AB 555
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Government Code section 831.7, relating to public liability, was added in 1983 following legislative passage of Assembly Bill 555. (See Exhibit A, #1e) Assembly member Robert J. Campbell introduced this single-section measure on February 10, 1983 at the request of the East Bay Regional Park District. (See Exhibit A, #1a and #3a)
Assembly Bill 555 was heard by the Assembly and Senate Committees on Judiciary where policy issues raised by the bill were heard. (See Exhibit A, #3 and #7) Three amendments were made to Assembly Bill 555 during legislative consideration. (See Exhibit A, #1b through #1d and #2) The measure was approved by the Legislature and subsequently signed by Governor George Deukmejian on September 15, 1983 where it was recorded by the Secretary of State as Chapter 863 of the Statutes of 1983. (See Exhibit A, #1e and #2)
The Third Reading analysis of Assembly Bill 555, as last amended on August 29, 1983, and prepared by the Senate Democratic Caucus provided the following digest of the bill:
The California Tort Claims Act generally provides that public entities are subject to liability for injuries caused by a dangerous condition on public property in certain circumstances. However, absolute immunity is granted for injuries caused by natural conditions of unimproved public property, or by certain unpaved access roads and trails to unimproved recreational areas, in order to encourage public entities to open its land to recreational users.
This bill would give a public entity (and its employees) qualified immunity from liability against any participant or spectator of a hazardous recreational activity conducted on public property for any damage or injury arising out of that activity. However, the public entity would remain liable if:
. . .
The bill would not limit the liability of an independent concessionaire, or any person or organization other than the public entity, for injuries suffered in any case as a result of the operation of a hazardous recreational activity on public property by the concessionaire, person, or organization.
(See Exhibit A, #11b, page 1)