- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The state House Education Committee has rejected a bill that sought to exempt school districts from class-action lawsuits for failing to implement concussion protocols for sports and other activities.

Senate File 98 failed on a 4-4 vote on Wednesday.

The bill was drafted in response to worries that districts could be included in lawsuits even if they did have concussion protocols in place.

The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, would have codified that any district’s failure to adhere to the state’s concussion protocols “shall not be considered as having increased the inherent risks of any sport or recreational activity.”

But members of the committee had concerns as to exactly how that language might impact districts’ and individuals’ liability should a student sustain a concussion, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported.

Rep. Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne, said the language regarding assumption of risk was “extremely broad” and potentially subject to abuse by negligent caretakers.

“The risk is in the activity, like if my son plays football he assumes the risk he will get a concussion,” Throne said. “But it’s substantially different to say the people who take care of you afterward can do whatever they want and be immune.”

Marcia Shanor, of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, said her association opposed the bill for that same reason.

“We’re putting into statute that it’s fine to not follow protocols where concussions are concerned and to not make sure they’re the best they can be,” she said.

Landen said the bill was not about allowing districts to avoid concussion protocols altogether or to avoid liability for negligence. Instead, he said, it was to provide protection to districts whose protocols may be attacked on the grounds of not being “good enough.”

Committee members voted 6-2 to eliminate the portion of the bill that provided that protection, effectively eliminating the bill’s main purpose.

When the panel deadlocked 4-4 on the final vote, Vice Chairman David Northrup, R-Powell, declared the bill dead since a majority vote is needed to advance bills out of committee.

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Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com


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