REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Mayor George Endicott is closely watching activity in Salem, hoping state lawmakers will restore recreational immunity. He tells KBND News, "The law is very specific that the landowner is free of liability. What happened was a woman who was sight impaired in Portland stepped in a hole. She couldn’t sue the city because they’re the owner; she sued the maintenance worker. Well, all our employees are indemnified if they’re doing their official duty, so the city still ends up paying." Endicott wants lawmakers to revise current law so that employees are also immune from lawsuits in specific cases.
The League of Oregon Cities also supports clarifying the law, which could prohibit people from suing cities if that person is hurt while participating in a free recreational opportunity. "Actually, one of the poster children that the League is using, and certainly our delegation is well aware of, is that great climbing facility that we built under the bridge," says Mayor Endicott. The Maple Bridge climbing wall in Redmond’s Dry Canyon was heralded by rock climbing enthusiasts before it closed last fall, due to liability concerns. "Right now, we pay $5,000 a year for our liability insurance, with a $50,000 deductible. Had we continued that bridge, it was going to $157,000 a year with a $100,000 deductible. That’s general fund money; I mean, we can’t do it."
Mayor Endicott spoke with lawmakers last week, and says they appear ready to make the necessary changes. "I heard nothing but positive feedback, so we think something will happen. They realize it’s an oversight. It wasn’t meant the way it’s written but the courts took a very strict interpretation."
Mayor Endicott says other top priorities for the legislative session include PERS and property tax reform and transportation.
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