President Bush has made “legal reform” a top priority of his second term. He wants to reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits and excessive jury verdicts. That’s a good thing, you might say. But doesn’t “legal reform” really just amount to shielding corporate interests from legal liability? In that department, many states, including Colorado, can show Congress a thing or two. The Center for Justice and Democracy has complied a list of the Top Ten Zaniest Immunity Laws (pdf), including these from our great state: Bingo. Who even knew that Colorado has a bingo lobby, let alone one powerful enough to get a law passed shielding the bingo industry from liability?:
Worried that your exuberant calling of bingo numbers or aggressive Maj Jongg playing might cause a riot among highly-competitive blue-haired lady players, who in turn might be injured and hold you liable? Confine your bingo activities to Colorado, where the bingo lobby has convinced the Legislature to grant you limited immunity if you hurt someone while acting as a bingoraffle volunteer. C.R.S. 12-9-111
Our baseball industry had good fortune in the state legislature as well:
Owners of baseball facilities have limited liability for spectator injuries caused by baseballs, baseball bats and other equipment used by players during a baseball game. C.R.S. 12-9-111
Colorado’s tanning salons scored this win:
Colorado tanning parlors have limited liability for injuries deemed to qualify as an “assumption of the risk.â€? [ C.R.S. 25-5-1011; 13-21-111.7].
Thinking of taking a bus? The metro area bus lobby pulled off this coup:
Liability for a single bus accident is limited to $600,000 per incident, no matter how many people might be injured in a single bus accident. [C.R.S. 24-10-114]
The next time I hear “legal reform,” I’m going to picture special interest groups with beaucoup bucks in outstretched hands to our state legislators, saying “Shield us.” And hope that 2005 doesn’t bring to Colorado this doozy of a law passed by Arizona last year to benefit realtors:
An agent or real estate owner can’t be held liable for failing to tell a potential buyer or renter that the house is “psychologically affected.â€?