SENATE BILL 5355
State of Washington 57th Legislature 2001 Regular Session
By Senator Hargrove
Read first time 01/19/2001. Referred to Committee on Human Services & Corrections.
AN ACT Relating to limitations in tort liability for errors in judgment by state employees; adding a new section to chapter 43.20A RCW; adding a new section to chapter 72.01 RCW; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. In an effort to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, the legislature has authorized and funded programs addressing child and elderly abuse and neglect and criminal offenders. The work undertaken by state employees and agents to deliver these important services is difficult. These workers are routinely presented with factual circumstances that require them to make decisions based upon circumstantial evidence and measurable risk of harm associated with the available competing choices.
Jury verdicts and settlements since 1995 against the department of corrections and the department of social and health services exceed sixty million dollars. The legislature is obligated, not only for policy reasons, but fiscal responsibility demands measures to assure the state is accountable under fair and reasonable standards of negligence. The state cannot guarantee the safety of its citizens, particularly in cases of harm involving the criminal conduct of others. The legislature expects state workers to perform this difficult work nonnegligently, and does not intend to immunize the state for negligence. However, the legislature finds that the citizens of this state should not be liable when the state worker exercises reasonable care, following applicable policies and procedures, which result in a bad outcome.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 43.20A RCW to read as follows:
The state or a child dependency caseworker or adult protective services caseworker, individually or in a representative capacity for the state, is not liable for an error of judgment if, in arriving at that judgment, the caseworker exercised reasonable care and skill, within the applicable policies, procedures, and standards the caseworker is obliged to follow.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. A new section is added to chapter 72.01 RCW to read as follows:
The state or a community corrections officer, parole officer, or probation officer, individually or in a representative capacity for the state, in juvenile and adult offender supervision cases is not liable for an error of judgment if, in arriving at that judgment, the officer exercised reasonable care and skill, within the applicable policies, procedures, and standards the officer is obliged to follow.
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