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SB 13 removes a business's duty to follow public safety rules

How is removing a business’s duty to follow public safety rules going to protect any West Virginia citizen? SB 13 is not meant to bring in new business; it’s to help businesses escape accountability for not following public safety statutes. Section (c) of SB 13 states that “[it is the intent of the Legislature that this legislation shall overrule the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia in the case of Hersh v. E-T Enterprises, Limited Parternship, 232 W.Va. 305, (November 12, 2013).” Read it here: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Status/bills_text.cfm?billdoc=sb13%20intr.htm&yr=2015&sesstype=RS&i=13

This is not meant to bring in new business as tort reform organizations and legislators claim. This is an overreach by the legislators to harm the citizens of West Virginia and overstep into the Judicial branch of the government. TheHersh case does not allow any person who gets hurt on someone else’s property to get millions of dollars. That case specifically states that you, a West Virginia property owner, don’t have a duty to eliminate every potential hazard on your property, so any talk that you can get sued for any injury on your property is false and just more propaganda by these tort reform organizations.

Here is the direct quote from the Hersh case, “[p]ossessors of property — particularly private homeowners — are not insurers of the safety of every person legitimately entering the property. Possessors of property do not have a duty to eliminate every potential hazard…” Hersh v. E-T Enters., P’ship, 232 W. Va. 305, 317 (W. Va. 2013).

What the court case did do was to ensure that landowners and businesses can’t disregard already existing public safety statutes & ordinances which are there to protect the safety of the public.

What the court specifically says is “[wh]en a statute imposes a duty on a person for the protection of others, it is a public safety statute and a violation of such a statute is prima facie evidence of negligence unless the statute says otherwise. A member of a class protected by a public safety statute has a claim against anyone who violates such a statute when the violation is a proximate cause of injury to the claimant.” Hersh v. E-T Enters., P’ship, 232 W. Va. 305, 312 (W. Va. 2013).

That decision is not harmful to businesses; it requires that landowners follow existing public safety statutes, such as the City of Martinsburg building code requiring handrails to be attached to a dangerous staircase. Please tell us your thoughts about how is removing a business’s duty to follow public safety rules going to protect any West Virginia citizen? Isn’t this taking away your rights as a West Virginia citizen?