MACo Opposes Open-Ended Synthetic Turf Liability Bill

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel, Les Knapp, testified in opposition to legislation (HB 1353) that would exempt injury claims caused by artificial or synthetic turf playing fields from the 1-year notice requirement and damage under the Local Government Tort Claims Act (LGTCA). The bill would create an unwarranted legal exception for these playing fields and increase litigation and liability exposure for local governments. Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher is the sponsor of this bill.

MACo’s testimony states,

HB1353 would hinder the ability of a local government to properly conduct investigations in its defense. For most claims, a lack of timely notice would impede a local government’s ability to collect information about the alleged injury, putting the local government at an evidentiary disadvantage.

By creating a unique exception to the LGTCA’s provisions, the bill establishes a precedent that would invite the creation of additional exceptions in the future. Such a “slippery slope” undermines the entire purpose of the LGTCA.

The bill also exposes a local government to increased financial risk and uncertainty by excepting artificial and synthetic turf field injury claims from both the notice requirement and the damage caps.

Bill Jorch from the Maryland Municipal League also testified in opposition alongside Mr. Knapp.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.