Wednesday, July 6, 2022

MENU

State laws, new legislation take aim at frivolous campground lawsuits

The Michigan State House of Representatives began considering legislation on March 1, 2022, to limit the liability of the state’s campground owners and operators for frivolous campground lawsuits.

Michigan State Rep. Ken Borton (R-Gaylord) introduced the bipartisan measure, along with six other Republicans and two Democrats. Borton said that the bill is intended to “ensure Michigan campgrounds can continue to serve as natural, safe vacation destinations.”

House Bill 5862 shields campground owners, operators against lawsuits

Michigan House Bill 5862 aims to shield campground owners and operators against lawsuits for things that normally exist while camping.

“Northern Michigan campgrounds are great vacation spots for local residents and tourists to stay in our scenic outdoors,” Borton said in a press release about the bill. “We all want to keep these venues open and safe for campers to enjoy. My plan will protect our camps from ridiculous lawsuits, ensuring safety without requiring unnecessary interference with our natural environment.”

The critical component of the measure addresses physical injury or property damage resulting from “inherent risks” of camping.

The bill cites examples of inherent risks, such as geographical features of the natural world, darkness, weather phenomena, other visitors’ actions, wild animals, poisonous plants, fireworks not authorized by the campground, and the use of camp recreational equipment. The measure provides that a campground would be required to post signs at its registration area stating that the campground is not liable for defined inherent risks of camping, with listed examples.

Proponents of the legislation, including advocates like the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, says that the law would maintain “reasonable expectations for campground safety precautions.” For example, there would be no immunity for intentional harm, negligence, or reckless disregard for safety. Immunity would also not attach if the campground operator failed to post the required warning signs specified in the bill.

Similar legislation takes aim at other campground lawsuits in other states, too

Similar legislation has been passed and signed into law in Ohio, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Campground liability limit legislation has also made it to the governors’ desks in Indiana and South Dakota. Those measures are awaiting the signatures of Gov. Holcomb of Indiana and Gov. Noem of South Dakota. Both governors are expected to sign the bills.

The New Hampshire state legislature considered a campground liability measure but rejected it.

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) is firmly behind this type of legislation and has assisted state legislative sponsors in drafting bills. Jeff Sims, Senior Director, State Relations and Program Advocacy, told RVtravel.com, “People must remember that these laws have nothing to do with negligence. This industry-specific legislation seeks to protect the small business [i.e., campground operator] from lawsuits arising from factors that are beyond the operator’s control.”

While there are already constraints against frivolous lawsuits at common law and in the form of sanctions against lawyers and plaintiffs filing such actions, campground operators still see actions filed for the “inherent risks” of engaging in camping activities. Campgrounds have seen campground lawsuits for bee stings, campfire burns, illness from outdoor exposure, and wild animal encounters. These suits usually get dismissed by the courts for lack of merit, but not before the campground operator must answer and defend the claim—which can cost tens of thousands of dollars that in many cases is never reimbursed by the plaintiff of the wrongful action. Having some limitations imposed upon the type of lawsuits that can be filed provides at least some protection for the campground operator, which ARVC points out may result in lower costs to the operator and, ultimately, lower campground fees.

RVtravel.com will keep readers apprised of developments on this and other RV industry legislation.

RELATED

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

15 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ed K
3 months ago

I will believe this when I see it “which ARVC points out may result in lower costs to the operator and, ultimately, lower campground fees.”

Spike
3 months ago
Reply to  Ed K

Thanks, Ed. You saved me from typing it! That statement gave me a chuckle! 😆

I do agree with the law, but that ARVC comment was funny.

Last edited 3 months ago by Spike
Daniel
3 months ago

What about the discrimination of the age of the RV are they still going to get away with that

Mike Gast
3 months ago
Reply to  Daniel

Discrimination is legally based on race, religion and sexual orientation, not the age of your RV. Campgrounds are privately owned companies which can make their own rules as long as it doesn’t discriminate based on the factors above. If owners don’t want to accept older rigs, that’s their right. Sort of like “adults only” parks. It’s a business decision, not an infringement of anyone’s rights.

JOHN
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Gast

I DISAGREE, I AM DISABLED AND KNOW THE LIMITS OF MY CONDITION. I AM A DISABLED MARINE VETERAN, WITH A TBI ,AND HAVE SEVERE BACK AND KNEE INJURIES,
BUT I MANAGE TO GET AROUND WHO LOVES THE OUTDOORS, BUT DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY A NEW RV! SO THE AGE OF MY RV IS OLDER THAN 10 YEARS. I HAVE BEEN DENIED A LOT OF CAMPGROUNDS, BECAUSE OF THE RV AGE!! SO, AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED, THE CAMPGROUNDS ARE DISCRIMINATING AGAINST ME, FOR THE REASON, I AM BEING DENIED THE CHANCE AS EVERYONE ELSE!!
THAT’S LIKE TELLING A HANDICAP INDIVIDUAL TO CHECK THEIR CANES, OR WALKERS, SCOOTERS, AT THE DOOR!!
I AM A FULLTIME RVER, AND KNOW FIRST HAND THE B.S. THAT SOME OF THESE CAMPGROUNDS DISH OUT!! I COULD RIGHT A BOOK ON THE SUBJECT!!
IMAGINE, GETTING HURT SERVING YOUR COUNTRY, THEN BEING DENIED ACCESS BECAUSE YOUR RIG IS TOO OLD!!
IT’S A REAL SLAP IN THE FACE!!
TRY IT SOMETIME, AND SEE HOW IT FEELS!!
US DISABLED VETERANS AND OTHERS, ONLY WANT THE SAME ACCESSS!! I CALL IT A BARRIER TO INCLUSION!!
THESE CAMPGROUNDS HAVE HAD 30 YEARS TO COMPLY!!
THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO IT!! I LOVE CAMPING, IT HELPS ME TO DEAL WITH MY INJURIES, AND MENTAL FORTITUDE!
I WILL GET OFF OF SOAPBOX NOW!
THANKS….

Gene Bjerke
3 months ago
Reply to  Daniel

Some years back, Ho Hum Campground in Florida was sued successfully for being age restricted by someone who doesn’t even own an RV or use campgrounds.

Drew
3 months ago

This is like the generator thing. And another reminder that you can’t protect people from themselves.

Orlan Jennings
3 months ago

If you think this is unnecessary, in the late 80s I was in California and a mountain lion attacked a killed a young boy in a wilderness park in eastern Orange County. The parents sued, claiming that because it was a “park” there shouldn’t be any hazardous animals. Being California, they won and the closed the park for a time, then opened for over 10 (I think) people only. And you had to sign a waiver of liability to get in.

Bob M
3 months ago

There are people who go along looking for things to sue. Having been on a credit union board. We had someone sue claiming they slipped on a side walk. Had another sue because we were missing some kind of information on our MAC machine. Which someone probably removed. Had a guy that became a state representative who tripped on a sidewalk.

Dave
3 months ago

So nice to see a common sense law being passed. A rarity these days under any administration. Gotta go for those clicks, they say.

Ron
3 months ago

It’s about time someone stop the bs lawsuits.

TIM MCRAE
3 months ago

Totally support this legislation.

Frivolous cases need to be dealt with SEVERELY by the Judges and State Bar Association’s. You can’t arbitrarily prevent cases being brought. That’s too broad and in many cases unfair. Often there is not enough evidence to prove a case but that doesn’t make it false.

However if Judges routinely flagged truly frivolous cases we could punish the ambulance chasers out of business without harming the businesses of ethical lawyers, and without harming true victims.

Mike
3 months ago
Reply to  TIM MCRAE

And hold attorneys that pursue such cases liable.

Thomas Boltik
3 months ago

Simple solution: if a lawsuit is filed, all expenses for said lawsuit are paid for by whoever loses. If it’s thrown out, whoever filed it pays ALL costs.

There have been cases of a woman alleging A rape case, ruining someone’s life, and its proven false, or it’s recanted. What happens to the accuser?

Gordy B
3 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Boltik

Read the question! Rape is not frivolous! IMHO any lawyer who files a frivolous lawsuit should be made to pay all expenses and a fine as well with the fine going to the accused. Maybe we could fix stupid (lawyers) and return to being responsible for our own actions. Nowadays it is always someone else’s fault because we did something stupid and got hurt.

Sign up for our newsletter

Every Saturday and Sunday morning. Serving RVers for more than 20 years.