Bill Providing Immunity to School Boards for Recreational Activities and Immunity for Volunteers Signed into Law
The same day he signed the Ski Hill Liability Protection legislation, Gov. Scott Walker also signed into law 2011 Wis. Act 162, which provides immunity from liability to schools for a death or injury that occurs on school grounds when the death or injury results from a recreational activity held on the school grounds pursuant to a recreational agreement between the school board and an individual.
Specifically, the immunity under AB 497 is provided to school boards, school districts, and governing bodies of charter schools, as well as their officers, employees, and agents.
The term "recreational activity" includes "any indoor or outdoor physical activity, sport, team sport, or game, whether organized or unorganized, undertaken for exercise, relaxation, diversion, or pleasure." The term "recreational agreement" refers to a "written authorization granted by the school to a person permitting public access to the school grounds for a recreational activity."
The bill does provide an exception for "malicious acts" or "malicious failure to warn" against an unsafe condition.
The original bill was amended to include language providing immunity for volunteers under Wis. Stat. § 893.80. Under current law, § 893.80 imposes certain requirements and certain limitations on claims and damages in a lawsuit brought against a volunteer fire company, political corporation, governmental subdivision, or any officer, official, agent or employee.
As amended, Act 162 provides that an "agent" under § 893.80 also includes a "volunteer," which is defined under the bill as a person who:
- Provides services or performs duties for, and with the express or implied consent of, a volunteer fire company, political corporation, or governmental subdivision or agency thereof;
- Is subject to the right of control of the volunteer fire company, political corporation, or governmental subdivision or agency thereof; and
- Is not paid a fee, salary, or other compensation by any person for the services or duties described above, other than reimbursement of expenses.
In addition, the bill provides that the procurement or maintenance of insurance or self-insurance by a volunteer fire company, political corporation, or governmental subdivision or agency, irrespective of the extent or type of coverage or the persons insured, shall not do any of the following:
- Constitute a waiver of the provisions of § 893.80; or
- Be relied upon to deny a person status as an officer, official, agent, or employee of the volunteer fire company political corporation, or governmental subdivision or agency that is procuring or maintaining the insurance or self-insurance.