Under legislation filed by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), a sports official cannot be held liable for civil damages, including personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, or other loss related to an act, error, or omission resulting from a risk inherent in a competitive sports activity. HB 3476 provides that an official may still be liable for gross negligence or wanton, wilful, or intentional conduct. Whether a risk is inherent depends on the nature of the sport in question, the conduct that is generally accepted in the sport, and whether the harm occurred during the pursuit of the purposes of the competition. The bill also specifies that a mere violation of the rules of play or failing to call a penalty, missing a call, or failing to enforce competition rules cannot in itself give rise to liability. “Sport” is broadly defined to include any competitive group or solo activity involving any aspect of physical competition, coordination, endurance, or stamina. A “sports official” includes any person who officiates, judges, or enforces contest rules in an official capacity with respect to an interscholastic, intercollegiate, or other organized amateur or professional athletic competition.
The bill further protects a sponsoring organization of an athletic competition from liability for an act, error, or omission of a sports official, unless a new, independent, and separate act, error, or omission of the organization gives rise to the harm.