Text: S.1684 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

There is one version of the bill.

Text available as:

Shown Here:
Introduced in Senate (06/25/2015)


114th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. 1684


To amend the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 to provide for liability protection for organizations and entities.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 25, 2015

Mr. Kirk (for himself and Mr. Hoeven) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To amend the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 to provide for liability protection for organizations and entities.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Volunteer Organization Protection Act of 2015”.

SEC. 2. Liability protection for organization or entity.

The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (42 U.S.C. 14501 et seq.) is amended—

(1) in section 3 (42 U.S.C. 14502)—

(A) in subsection (a), by inserting after “relating to volunteers” the following: “or volunteer nonprofit organizations”; and

(B) in subsection (b), in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by inserting after “against a volunteer” the following: “or a volunteer nonprofit organization”;

(2) in section 4 (42 U.S.C. 14503)—

(A) in the heading, by inserting “and volunteer nonprofit organizations” after “volunteers”;

(B) by striking subsection (c) and inserting the following:

“(c) Liability protection for organization or entity.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—No volunteer nonprofit organization shall be liable for harm caused by an act or omission of a volunteer on behalf of the organization unless—

“(A) the organization would be liable for the act or omission under generally applicable laws governing the direct or vicarious liability of organizations; and

“(B) the organization itself has expressly authorized the specific conduct constituting the act or omission.

“(2) GOVERNMENT REQUEST OR AUTHORIZATION.—Notwithstanding paragraph (1), no volunteer nonprofit organization shall be liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the organization or of a volunteer acting on behalf of the organization if—

“(A) the organization or the volunteer engaged in the act or omission at the request of or pursuant to an authorization by the Federal Government, a State government, or any agency or subdivision thereof; and

“(B) (i) the requesting or authorizing governmental entity would have been immune from suit or from liability in damages if the entity had engaged in the act or omission itself or through an employee, agent, or independent contractor; or

“(ii) any governmental employee, agent, or contractor who had engaged in the act or omission on behalf of the requesting or authorizing governmental entity would have been immune from suit or from liability in damages by virtue of immunity extended to individual governmental actors.

“(3) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Except as provided in paragraphs (1) and (2), nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the liability of any nonprofit organization or governmental entity with respect to harm caused to any person.”;

(C) in subsection (d)—

(i) by striking paragraph (2); and

(ii) by redesignating paragraphs (3) and (4) as paragraphs (2) and (3), respectively;

(D) in subsection (e)(1)—

(i) by striking “against a volunteer” and inserting the following: “against—

“(A) a volunteer”; and

(ii) by striking the period at the end and inserting the following: “; or

“(B) a volunteer nonprofit organization in an action brought for harm based on the action of a volunteer acting within the scope of the volunteer’s responsibilities to the organization unless the claimant establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the organization itself expressly authorized the volunteer’s action and did so with a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed.”; and

(E) in subsection (f)(1), by inserting “or of a volunteer nonprofit organization” after “liability of a volunteer”;

(3) in section 5 (42 U.S.C. 14504)—

(A) in subsection (a)—

(i) by inserting “or a volunteer nonprofit organization” after “action against a volunteer”; and

(ii) by inserting “or volunteer nonprofit organization” after “liability of the volunteer”; and

(B) in subsection (b)—

(i) in paragraph (1), by inserting “or a volunteer nonprofit organization” after “who is a volunteer”; and

(ii) in paragraph (2), by inserting “or a volunteer nonprofit organization” after “who is a volunteer”; and

(4) in section 6 (42 U.S.C. 14505)—

(A) by striking “For purposes of this Act” and inserting “(a) In general.—For purposes of this Act”; and

(B) by adding at the end the following:

“(b) Volunteer nonprofit organizations.—

“(1) QUALIFICATION AS A VOLUNTEER NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION.—

“(A) ACTIONS CONDUCTED THROUGH VOLUNTEERS.—A nonprofit organization that conducts substantially all of its activities solely through the actions of volunteers or of independent contractors is a volunteer nonprofit organization for purposes of this Act.

“(B) ORGANIZATION WITH NO EMPLOYEES.—A nonprofit organization that has no employees is conclusively presumed to be a volunteer nonprofit organization for purposes of this Act.

“(C) LOCAL AFFILIATED ORGANIZATIONS WITH NO EMPLOYEES.—

“(i) PRESUMPTION.—A nonprofit organization is presumed to be a volunteer nonprofit organization for purposes of this Act if the primary office and the majority of the employees of the organization function primarily to provide support to local affiliated organizations that do not have employees and that act in furtherance of the organization’s nonprofit mission.

“(ii) REBUTTAL.—The presumption under clause (i) may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence that the board of the nonprofit organization expressly authorized the employees of the nonprofit organization to assert active control over the local affiliated organization with respect to the act or omission in question.

“(D) PUBLIC CHARITIES; PRIVATE FOUNDATIONS; SOCIAL WELFARE ORGANIZATIONS.—A nonprofit organization is a volunteer nonprofit organization for purposes of this Act if the organization—

“(i) has fewer than 50 employees;

“(ii) has annual gross receipts of less than $200,000; and

“(iii) is—

“(I) an organization described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of section 509(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such Code;

“(II) a private foundation, as defined in section 509 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such Code; or

“(III) an organization operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare that is described in section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such Code.

“(2) ACTS BY A VOLUNTEER NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION.—

“(A) GOVERNING DOCUMENTS OF ORGANIZATION.—A volunteer nonprofit organization acts ‘itself’ for purposes of this Act only if the person or body that is authorized by the governing documents of the organization to act in the name of and on behalf of the organization expressly acts in accordance with those documents.

“(B) APPLICABLE STATE LAW.—If the governing documents of a volunteer nonprofit organization do not identify the person or body that is authorized to act in the name of and on behalf of the organization, the organization acts ‘itself’ for purposes of this Act only if the person or body whose action is required under the applicable State law in order to bind the organization acts strictly in accordance with that State law.”.