Senate bill 2901 was accepted on Thursday with a 32-17 vote. It was held for the possibility of more debate.
According to the law, a person who owns, owns, rents or manages property can not be held liable for injuries caused by anyone else on the premises, unless there is evidence that the responsible person was aware of possible damage and this has happened.
The main sponsor, the Republican Sen. Josh Harkins from Brandon, is a real estate agent. Senators debated the bill because brokers in the Capitol had a lobbyday.
"Where do you draw the line that the landowner can control or what is supposed to have the power?" Early Harkins.
Democratic Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory, who is a lawyer, said he was "stunned" by the bill and gave a scenario that he said could happen: "If I own a nightclub … then I'm not civil responsible for a crime that occurs in my house, unless I basically went outside and said: Why do you not fight two men? & # 39; & # 39;
The Republican Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula, who is also a lawyer, said that the changes could harm crime victims. As an example, he mentioned the case of a Hattiesburg woman whose husband was shot a few years ago when they stopped at a Moss Point petrol station. Wiggins said that if the law were to become law as it is now written, a person in her situation would be limited in reclaiming money from owners of the poorly lit gas station.
"The elephant in the room is that this is a shot at the trial lawyers," Wiggins said. "It affects everyone."
Supporters say that Mississippi's current law is unfair, because it forbids judges or jurors from assigning a part of the crime a harmful action to the criminal or any other third party carrying out the action.
Under the proposed amendment, judges and juries could say that someone has suffered $ 100,000 in damages, but the owner of the property is only liable for 10 percent, meaning the owner would pay less. In many cases, the third party has no money or insurance, so the person who complains would not receive anything from them.
Ron Aldridge, executive director of the Mississippi chapter of the national federation of independent companies and an advocate of the law, said companies are being prosecuted too often and that insurance agreements are driving up premiums.
"It's not a slip-and-fall case," Aldridge said on Wednesday. He said that property owners still have the duty to warn visitors of known dangers. He also said that entrepreneurs still want to provide maintenance and security so that their property will attract customers.
Others dispute that claim. Jordan Hughes, a professor at the University of Mississippi, said Thursday in an interview that an apartment building under her bill reading may not be liable if a tenant spills oil into the parking lot and someone stumbles a month later. She said that she teaches in which an owner of an apartment did not repair a sliding glass door and that a tenant was later raped by an intruder who entered the door. Hughes said she is not sure whether the tenant can recover the damage on the basis of the proposal.
During the senate debate, Democratic Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville, a lawyer, said that, according to the law, owners of unsafe apartment complexes could avoid liability if a woman was raped or kidnapped. Simmons asked: "Do we want our women and children to be unsafe?"
A similar proposal, House Bill 337, awaits House debate.
Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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