December 7, 2010
RE: S-2405 – Would Subject Municipal Employer to
Liability Claim Due to Actions of Officer or Employee
We have reviewed S-2405, which is scheduled for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday, December 9. The bill would eliminate the statute of limitations on certain sexual abuse offenses and remove sovereign immunity, from public entities, under sections of the Tort Claims Act.
We have asked the sponsors to delay action on this bill, at this time. We would welcome the opportunity to work with the sponsors on this matter, but we must oppose the bill, in its current form.
The bill seeks to remove the current sovereign immunity protection of the tort claims act from incidents of sexual abuse. An officer or employee who commits a crime, including sexual abuse, currently has no immunity under the tort claims act, since the act provides no immunity, if the conduct was a crime. However, the tort claims act eliminates any liability on the part of the employer municipality for actions outside the scope of employment, which sexual abuse would clearly be.
This bill would remove that protection and allow victims to sue not only local government employees, but also the municipal employers (for negligent hiring, etc).
This bill could encourage costly litigation against public entities. Further, it will, most probably, drive up liability insurance costs and, as a result, have a negative impact on property taxpayers all around our State.
Again, we would welcome the chance to work with the sponsors on appropriate amendments, but we oppose S-2405, as currently drafted.
You can access a list of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and link to contact information, at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/committees/ShowCommittee.asp . We would suggest you contact those individuals and you own State Senator. Urge them to delay action on S-2405, as currently drafted.
If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-4581, ext. 121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.