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Bills Advance to Limit Lawsuits Against Mississippi Landowners

A bill that would curtail Mississippi property owners’ liability to be sued for some acts on their property is advancing despite frayed tempers.

House Judiciary A Committee Chairman Mark Baker, a Brandon Republican, pushed House Bill 337 aka The Landowners Protection Act, through his committee Tuesday, even though Democratic opponents demanded to speak against the bill. Lawmakers are customarily allowed to speak for or against a bill before a committee vote.

The language within the bill would eliminate lawsuits against landowners in situations where injury was caused by a third party, unless claimants can prove:

(a) The conduct of said third party occurred on the property;
(b) The conduct of the person who owns, leases, operates, maintains or manages the property actively and affirmatively, with a degree of conscious decision-making, impelled the conduct of said third party; and (c) The third party’s conduct proximately caused the economic and noneconomic damages suffered by the injured party.

The measure is pushed by business and real estate interests who say they’re unfairly held liable for bad acts by other people on their property. But opponents say the bill erects an impossibly high standard to sue landowners for hazards on their property.

In addition, the legislation proposes several liability rather than joint and several in situations where two or more parties are deemed to have caused the damage or injury.

The bill goes to the House for more debate. Senate Bill 2901, which is identical, awaits Senate debate.

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