BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 265
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          Date of Hearing:  May 8, 2013

                           K.H. "Katcho" Achadjian, Chair
                     AB 265 (Gatto) - As Amended:  April 29, 2013
          SUBJECT  :   Local government liability: dog parks.

           SUMMARY  :   Limits, for cities, counties and special districts  
          that own or operate dog parks, the liability for injury or death  
          of a person or pet due to actions of a dog in that dog park.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Provides that, notwithstanding any other law, a city, county,  
            city and county, or special district that owns or operates a  
            dog park shall not be held liable for injury or death of a  
            person or pet resulting solely from the actions of a dog in  
            the dog park.

          2)Provides that this bill shall not be construed to otherwise  
            affect the liability of a city, county, city and county, or  
            special district for negligence that may otherwise exist under  
            the law.

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Provides, except as otherwise provided by statute, that a  
            public entity is not liable for an injury, whether such injury  
            arises of an act or omission of the public entity or a public  
            employee or any other person. 

          2)Provides, except as otherwise provided by statute, that a  
            public employee is liable for injury caused by his or her act  
            or omission to the same extent as a private person.  

          3)Provides, except as otherwise provided by statute, that a  
            public employee is not liable for an injury resulting from his  
            act or omission where the act or omission was the result of  
            the exercise of the discretion vested in him, whether or not  
            such discretion is abused.

          4)Provides that a public entity is liable for injury caused by a  
            dangerous condition of its property if the plaintiff  
            establishes that the property was in a dangerous condition at  
            the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused  


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            by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition  
            created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury  
            which was incurred, and either (a) a negligent or wrongful act  
            or omission of an employee of the public entity within the  
            scope of his or her employment created the dangerous  
            condition; or, (b) the public entity had actual or  
            constructive notice of the dangerous condition and had  
            sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to  
            protect against the dangerous condition.

          5)Makes the owner of a dog civilly liable for the damages  
            suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a  
            public place or lawfully in a private place, as specified,  
            regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's  
            knowledge of such viciousness.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  None

           COMMENTS  :   

          1)This bill provides cities, counties and special districts with  
            express immunity from liability for the actions of a dog that  
            result in injury or death of a person or a pet in a dog park  
            owned or operated by any of these local agencies.  This bill  
            is sponsored by the author.

          2)According to the author's office, "Liability costs are one of  
            the largest barriers preventing small cities and counties from  
            being able to afford a dog park.  Under California law, dog  
            owners are fully responsible for any injuries caused by their  
            pet (CA Civil Code  3342). However, in practice, a bite  
            victim who is unable to recover costs from the owner of the  
            pet which caused the damage can turn to the host city and/or  
            county looking for additional remuneration.  If litigants are  
            successful, limited public resources are then used to  
            compensate the individual for their injury.  Local officials,  
            therefore, have to decide whether they are willing to offer a  
            wholesome opportunity for local pet owners at the risk of  
            taxpayer dollars intended for other programs."

          3)Current law generally provides that public entities are not  
            liable for injuries caused by its acts or omissions.  However,  
            supporters of this measure contend that some local agencies  


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            have been hesitant to establish dog parks, fearing litigation  
            if a person suffers injury in a dog park, is unable to recover  
            adequate costs from the dog owner, and seeks remuneration from  
            the local agency.  While no related lawsuits have been  
            reported by the author or supporters, they believe this bill  
            will preempt such litigation and provide cities, counties and  
            special districts with the assurance they need to open new dog  

          4)The California Special Districts Association (CSDA), in  
            support, argues that "the lack 
          of liability protection in current law can be a hurdle that  
            places special districts at a risk.  
          AB 265 allows these districts to prudently fulfill the needs of  
            the community without endangering the taxpayers that fund  

           5)Support arguments  :  Supporters argue that this bill will  
            provide local agencies with the assurance they need to operate  
            dog parks. 

             Opposition arguments  :  Opponents could argue that state law  
            already provides adequate immunity from liability for local  
            agencies that operate dog parks.

          6)This bill passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 9-0  
            vote on April 2.



          American Kennel Club


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          American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 
          Association of California Water Agencies
          California Association of Joint Powers Authorities
          California Association of Recreation and Park Districts 
          California Park and Recreation Society
          California Special Districts Association
          California State Association of Counties
          Cities of Buena Park, Culver City, Laguna Beach and Palm Desert
          Civil Justice Association of California 
          CSAC Excess Insurance Authority 
          Hayward Area Recreation and Park District
          Humane Society of the United States 
          Paw PAC
          Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District 
          Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District
          State Humane Association of California

          None on file
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Angela Mapp / L. GOV. / (916) 319-3958