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Governor Wolf signed House Bill 1459 (PaWARN Liability) into law today as Act 69 of 2020

Governor Wolf signed House Bill 1459 (PaWARN Liability) into law today as Act 69 of 2020

We wanted to let you know that Governor Wolf signed House Bill 1459 into law today as Act 69 of 2020.

  • House Bill 1459 (Schlossberg-D) amends Titles 35 (Health and Safety) adding a chapter providing for emergency responder mental wellness and stress management; establishing the Statewide Critical Incident Stress Management Program; providing for duties of the secretary of health and the Department of Health; and, in emergency medical services system, further providing for support of emergency medical services. The addition of 35 PA.C.S. 75a02(b) is effective in 180 days, the remainder of the bill is effective immediately.
  • It also provides liability protection for PaWARN or PaWARN members who provide resources to non-PaWARN members or non-utilities (i.e., state prisons, boroughs, townships, etc.), when deployed by PEMA.
  • 7704. Immunity from civil liability.

(a) General rule.–Neither the Commonwealth, nor any Commonwealth agency, nor any political subdivision nor, except in cases of willful misconduct, gross negligence, reckless or bad faith, the agents, employees or representatives of any of them engaged in any emergency services activities, nor, except in cases of willful misconduct, gross negligence, recklessness or bad faith, any individual or other person under contract with them to provide equipment or work on a cost basis to be used in disaster relief, nor, except in cases of willful misconduct, gross negligence, recklessness or bad faith, any person, firm, corporation or an agent or employee of any of them engaged in emergency services activities, while complying with or attempting to comply with this part or any rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this part, shall be liable for the death of or any injury to persons or loss or damage to property as a result of that activity.

(a.1)  Deployment protections.–A person that or an agent or employee of an employer who is temporarily deployed by the Commonwealth or provides equipment for the purpose of emergency services activities in response to a mutual aid request by the agency shall be granted immunity under subsection (a), except in cases of willful misconduct, gross negligence, recklessness or bad faith, and shall not be liable for the death or injury to persons or for damage to or loss of property as a result of that activity. No immunity, rights or privileges shall be granted to persons under this subsection unless deployed by the Commonwealth in accordance with subsection (a.2).

(a.2)  Deployment by the Commonwealth.–The agency shall promulgate, adopt and enforce rules, regulations, standards, directives and orders as may be deemed necessary to carry out the provisions under subsection (a.1).

Just a reminder, PEMA would prefer that utilities join PaWARN and continue to stress the importance of a mutual aid network.  Act 69 liability protection is intended to be a last resort for mutual aid during an emergency when deployed by PEMA.

 

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