H. Rept. 109-393 - 109th Congress (2005-2006)
March 15, 2006, As Reported by the Judiciary Committee

Report text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this legislative text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.




House Report 109-393 - NONPROFIT ATHLETIC ORGANIZATION PROTECTION ACT OF 2006




[House Report 109-393]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



109th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     109-393

======================================================================



 
         NONPROFIT ATHLETIC ORGANIZATION PROTECTION ACT OF 2006

                                _______
                                

 March 15, 2006.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Sensenbrenner, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 1176]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 1176) to provide immunity for nonprofit athletic 
organizations in lawsuits arising from claims of ordinary 
negligence relating to the passage, adoption, or failure to 
adopt rules of play for athletic competitions and practices, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     5
Committee Consideration..........................................     5
Vote of the Committee............................................     6
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     6
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     6
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     6
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     7
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     7
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion.......................     7
Markup Transcript................................................     9
Dissenting Views.................................................    21

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 1176, the ``Nonprofit Athletic Organization Protection 
Act of 2006,'' was introduced by Representative Souder on March 
8, 2005. The legislation is intended to stem the growing threat 
of lawsuits against organizations ranging from youth sport's 
baseball Little Leagues to high school sports rule-making 
bodies. The bill exempts nonprofit athletic organizations and 
their officers and employees acting in their official capacity 
from liability for harm caused by a negligent act or omission 
of such organization in the adoption of rules of play for 
sanctioned or approved athletic competitions or practices. The 
general protection preempts inconsistent State laws but makes 
exceptions for certain State laws requiring adherence to risk 
management and training procedures, State general respondeat 
superior laws, or State laws waiving liability limits in cases 
brought by any officer of the State or local government. The 
language mirrors provisions of the ``Volunteer Protection Act'' 
(VPA).\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ 42 U.S.C. Sec. 14501 et. seq.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    H.R. 1176 extends the liability protections already 
provided by Congress in the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 to 
nonprofit athletic rule-making organizations. The extension of 
these liability protections reflects Congress' recognition that 
America's long tradition of volunteerism and generosity has 
been undermined by costly and often frivolous litigation. In 
recent decades, actual lawsuits and fears of liability have 
increasingly become a deterrent to people who might otherwise 
have given of their time or resources to better their community 
and country.

               HISTORY OF VOLUNTEER LIABILITY PROTECTIONS

    The common law of all 50 States allows individuals to 
collect monetary damages in tort for personal injury or 
property damage caused by another person's negligence or 
willful conduct. Virtually all of these States have recognized 
the need to encourage good works and volunteerism by protecting 
volunteers and nonprofit organizations from tort liability for 
accidents that arise in the normal course of their dealings. 
For example, New Jersey provides that charities and the 
volunteers they utilize are immune from liability for ordinary 
negligence.\2\ In Kansas, a volunteer or nonprofit organization 
is immune from liability for negligence if the organization 
carries general liability insurance coverage.\3\ Ohio offers 
broad immunity for volunteers of charitable organizations.\4\ 
Wisconsin State law limits the liability of volunteers of non-
stock corporations organized under Chapter 181.\5\ Georgia 
grants immunity for members, directors, officers, and trustees 
of charities from negligence claims asserted by beneficiaries 
of the charity.\6\ These States' efforts reflect a broader 
national consensus that volunteers and volunteer organizations 
should be protected from legal liability.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\ N.J. Stat. Ann. Sec. Sec. 2A: 53A-7 to 7.1.
    \3\ Kan. Stat. Ann. Sec. 60-3601.
    \4\ Ohio. Rev. Code Ann. Sec. 2305.38.
    \5\ Wis. Stat. Sec. Sec. 181.0670.
    \6\ Ga. Code Ann. Sec. 51-1-20.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Congress recognized this national consensus and held 
hearings examining this subject in 1997.\7\ Those hearings 
showed that in addition to causing potential volunteers to stay 
at home or refrain from certain needed activities, liability 
and the fear of liability for volunteer activities had very 
real financial impacts, including dramatically rising costs for 
liability insurance premiums for volunteer organizations. These 
increased premiums have practical consequences: the Executive 
Director of the Girl Scout Council of Washington, D.C. stated 
that ``locally we must sell 87,000 boxes of . . . Girl Scout 
cookies each year to pay for [our] liability insurance.'' \8\ 
Furthermore, Dr. Thomas Jones, Managing Director of the 
Washington, D.C. office of Habitat for Humanity, testified that 
``[t]here are Habitat affiliate boards for whom the largest 
single administrative cost is the perceived necessity of 
purchasing liability insurance to protect board members. These 
are moneys which otherwise would be used to build more houses 
[for] more persons in need.'' \9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\ Volunteer Liability Legislation, Hearing on H.R. 911 and H.R. 
1167 Before the House Committee on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. (1997).
    \8\ H.R. Rep. No. 105-101, at 6 (1997).
    \9\ Volunteer Liability Legislation: Hearing on H.R. 911 and H.R. 
1167, supra, 105th Cong. at 56.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    These concerns prompted Congress to pass the Volunteer 
Protection Act (VPA), which was signed into law by President 
Clinton on June 18, 1997.\10\ The VPA protects ``volunteers'' 
\11\ for incidents that arise in the scope of their work, but 
it does not provide liability protection for willful, reckless, 
or criminal conduct or gross negligence. The Act limits 
punitive damages and non-economic damages for those individuals 
found liable.\12\ However, the VPA does not protect nonprofit 
organizations and government entities themselves from liability 
for negligence of their volunteers unless State law provides 
``charitable immunity'' for such organizations.\13\ Hence, 
under the common law doctrine of respondeat superior, volunteer 
organizations and entities are still generally vicariously 
liable for the negligence of their employees and volunteers. 
Also, volunteers that operate motor vehicles, vessels, or 
aircraft are not protected by the VPA.\14\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \10\ Pub. L. No. 105-19 (1997).
    \11\ ``Volunteer'' is defined in the VPA as a person who performs 
services for a non-profit and who receives no more than $500 per year 
for such services. 24 U.S.C. Sec. 14505(6).
    \12\ 42 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 14503(e), 14504.
    \13\ 42 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 14502(a), 14503(c).
    \14\ 42 U.S.C. Sec. 14503(a)(4).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The passage of the VPA has not ended the problem of 
liability and its associated costs for volunteers and the non-
profit organizations that support them. Hence, the Committee 
has held hearings \15\ in recent years about various aspects of 
this problem and has advanced several pieces of legislation 
\16\ designed to limit liability for volunteers and volunteer, 
non-profit, or charitable organizations. For example, in the 
107th Congress, the House-passed version of the ``Charitable 
Choice Act of 2001,'' H.R. 7, contained provisions limiting 
liability for persons or entities who donated equipment to 
charitable organizations.\17\ In the 108th Congress, the House 
overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1787, the ``Good Samaritan Volunteer 
Firefighter Assistance Act of 2003,'' which extends certain 
liability protections to those who donate equipment to 
volunteer fire stations, by a vote of 397-3.\18\ The provisions 
of that Act are now included as Section 125 of the USA PATRIOT 
Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, which was signed 
into law on March 9, 2006.\19\ On the same day, the House also 
overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1084, the ``Volunteer Pilot 
Organization Protection Act,'' by a vote of 385-12.\20\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \15\ See, e.g., Good Samaritan Volunteer Firefighter Assistance Act 
of 2003, the Non Profit Athletic Organization Protection Act of 2003, 
and the Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act: Hearing Before the 
House Comm. on the Judiciary on H.R. 1787, H.R. 3369, and H.R. 
1084,108th Cong. (2004); State and Local Implementation of Existing 
Charitable Choice Programs, 107th Cong. 13 (2001); Volunteer Liability 
Legislation, Hearing on H.R. 911 and H.R. 1167 Before the House 
Committee on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. (1997); and Health Care Reform 
Issues: Antitrust Medical Malpractice Liability and Volunteer 
Liability, Hearing on H.R. 911, H.R. 2925, H.R. 2938 Before the House 
Committee on the Judiciary, 104th Cong. (1995).
    \16\ See,e.g., H.R. 911, 105th Cong. (1997); H.R. 1167, 105th Cong. 
(1997); H.R. 7, 107th Cong. (2001); H.R. 1787, 108th Cong. (2003); H.R. 
3369, 108th Cong. (2003); H.R. 1084, 108th Cong. (2003); and H.R. 3736, 
109th Cong. (2005).
    \17\ H.R. 7, 107th Cong. Sec. 401 (2001).
    \18\ 150 Cong. Rec. H7097 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2004).
    \19\ 151 Cong. Rec. H11289 (daily ed. Dec. 8, 2005), Pub. L. No. 
109-177.
    \20\ 150 Cong. Rec. H7098 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2004).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Most recently, the House passed the ``Katrina Volunteer 
Protection Act of 2005,'' H.R. 3736, by voice vote on September 
14, 2005.\21\ This bill extends liability protections to any 
person or entity that voluntarily rendered aid in the wake of 
Hurricane Katrina, provided that the harm was not caused by 
willful, wanton, reckless, or criminal conduct.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \21\ 151 Cong. Rec. H7887 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2005).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

       THE NONPROFIT ATHLETIC ORGANIZATION PROTECTION ACT OF 2006

    H.R. 1176, the ``Nonprofit Athletic Organization Protection 
Act of 2006,'' is intended to stem the growing threat of 
lawsuits against sports rulemaking bodies. Rulemaking bodies 
play a critical role in facilitating all levels and all types 
of sports. Nonprofit rulemaking bodies use the expertise of 
experienced volunteers to set forth rules for athletic 
competitions and practices that attempt to preserve sports 
traditions and minimize risks to participants. However, this 
rulemaking function is a predictive endeavor without the 
benefit of perfect foresight, and sports involve inherent 
risks.\22\ Thus, when the inevitable accidents do occur, 
nonprofit rulemaking bodies are often sued along with the local 
school district, coach, and referee because such organizations 
are presumed to have ``deep pockets.'' This growing trend of 
lawsuits has led to a dramatic increase in the insurance 
premiums for many rulemaking associations. For example, the 
National High School Federation, which develops rules for 17 
different sports, saw a 300 percent increase for insurance 
premiums over just 3 years.\23\ This increase means that 
insurance premiums now make up over 10 percent of the 
Federation's annual budget.\24\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \22\ Good Samaritan Volunteer Firefighter Assistance Act of 2003, 
the Nonprofit Athletic Organization Protection Act of 2003, and the 
Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act: Hearing Before the H. 
Comm. on the Judiciary, 108th Cong. 12 (2004) (testimony of Robert F. 
Kanaby, Executive Director of the National Federation of High School 
Associations).
    \23\ Id.
    \24\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If this trend continues, these rulemaking authorities may 
be driven out of existence and amateur sports would suffer. 
Typical bodily injury cases cost over $25,000 in legal fees--
even when the case is ultimately dismissed.\25\ As a result, 
organizations are unable to find a provider of insurance 
willing to offer them coverage because of their exposure to 
millions of potential litigants (high school athletes).\26\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \25\ Id. at 22.
    \26\ Id. at 24-25.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    H.R. 1176 addresses this insurance reality by mirroring the 
Volunteer Protection Act and exempting nonprofit athletic 
organizations from liability only for harm caused by an act or 
omission of such organization in the adoption of rules of play 
(and not in any other context) for sanctioned or approved 
athletic competitions or practices. This legislation does 
provide a blanket grant of immunity; rather nonprofit athletic 
rulemaking organizations could still be held liable for any 
grossly negligent or reckless, willful, or criminal acts or 
omissions in the formulation of these rules of play. The 
athletic organizations covered are defined by both their IRS 
nonprofit status and those with a primary function of setting 
rules for competitions. Also covered are employees of such 
organizations acting in the scope of their official duties. The 
liability protections have limiting exceptions to ensure the 
organization meets any certification or licensing requirements, 
and that the harm was not caused by willful or criminal 
misconduct or gross negligence on the part of the organization. 
The general protection preempts inconsistent State laws but 
makes exceptions for certain State laws requiring adherence to 
risk management and training procedures, State general 
respondeat superior laws, or State laws waiving liability 
limits in cases brought by an officer of the State or local 
government.
    The predecessor bill to H.R. 1176, H.R. 3369, received 
majority support (217-176) in the House of Representatives in 
the 108th Congress.\27\ Because the bill was brought up on 
suspension of the rules and failed to achieve the requisite 
two-thirds support, it did not pass. However, a new provision, 
subsection 4(d), has been added to the bill to address the 
concerns of some Members that the liability protections be 
clearly directed at personal injury claims.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \27\ 150 Cong. Rec. H7096 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2004).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    H.R. 1176 is supported by, among others, the National 
Federation of State High School Associations; the National 
Collegiate Athletic Association; the National Council of Youth 
Sports; the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States (AAU); 
Little League Baseball; Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.; USA 
Baseball; USA Softball; and the Women's Sports Foundation.

                                Hearings

    The full Committee on the Judiciary held no hearings on 
H.R. 1176 in the 109th Congress. However, the full Committee on 
the Judiciary held a hearing on a nearly identical bill, H.R. 
3369, in the 108th Congress, at which testimony was received 
from Mr. Robert Kanaby, Executive Director of the National 
Federation of State High School Associations, and Professor 
Andrew F. Popper, of the American University and Washington 
College of Law.

                        Committee Consideration

    On March 2, 2006, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered favorably reported the bill H.R. 1176 by voice vote, a 
quorum being present.

                         Vote of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of Rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee notes that there 
were no recorded votes during the Committee consideration of 
H.R. 1176.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of Rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of Rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of Rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable because this legislation does 
not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax 
expenditures.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of Rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with 
respect to the bill, H.R. 1176, the following estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, March 10, 2006.
Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1176, the 
``Nonprofit Athletic Organization Protection Act of 2006.''
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Gregory 
Waring (for Federal costs), who can be reached at 226-2860, and 
Melissa Merrell (for the state and local impact), who can be 
reached at 225-3220.
            Sincerely,
                                       Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

Enclosure

cc:
        Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
        Ranking Member
H.R. 1176--Nonprofit Athletic Organization Protection Act of 2006.
    H.R. 1176 would provide immunity to nonprofit athletic 
organizations such as Little League and school sports programs 
from liability in certain civil suits alleging harm from an act 
or omission of such an organization in the adoption of rules 
for athletic competitions or practices.
    CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would 
result in no significant costs to the Federal Government. 
Enacting H.R. 1176 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues.
    H.R. 1176 contains an intergovernmental mandate as defined 
in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA), but CBO estimates 
that the resulting costs, if any, would not be significant and 
would be well below the threshold for intergovernmental 
mandates established in that act ($64 million in 2006, adjusted 
annually for inflation). This bill contains no new private-
sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    H.R. 1176 contains an intergovernmental mandate because it 
would preempt certain state liability laws. Specifically, the 
bill would exempt nonprofit athletic organizations from 
liability under state tort laws for certain injuries that may 
occur during practice or competitions. CBO estimates that the 
costs, if any, would not be significant and would be well below 
the threshold established in UMRA.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Gregory Waring 
(for Federal costs), who can be reached at 226-2860, and 
Melissa Merrell (for the state and local impact), who can be 
reached at 225-3220. This estimate was approved by Peter H. 
Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of 
Rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, 
H.R.1176, will provide limited liability protection for 
nonprofit athletic organizations and their officers operating 
within the scope of their official capacity.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of Rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds the authority for 
this legislation in art. I, Sec. 8 of the Constitution.

               Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion

    The following discussion describes the bill as reported by 
the Committee.
Section 1. Short Title
    Section 1 provides that H.R. 1176 may be cited as the 
``Nonprofit Athletic Organization Protection Act of 2006.''
Section 2. Findings
    Section 2 sets forth eight Congressional findings regarding 
the role amateur athletics plays in the overall health and 
well-being of America's youth. The findings also note that 
rules and rule-making bodies are essential for the development 
of amateur athletics, and that these rules and rule-making 
bodies have become the focus of a large number of lawsuits.
Section 3. Definitions
    Section 3 sets forth the operative definitions for the Act. 
Those definitions are identical to those found in the Volunteer 
Protection Act, 14 U.S.C. Sec. 14505, with one addition: the 
term ``Nonprofit Athletic Organization.'' That term is defined 
as nonprofit organization (as that term is defined in Section 
401(c)(3) of the Tax Code) that has as one of its primary 
functions the adoption of rules for sanctioned or approved 
athletic competitions and practices. The term includes the 
employees, agents, and volunteers of such organization, 
provided such individuals are acting within the scope of their 
duties with the nonprofit athletic organization.
Section 4. Limitation on Liability for Nonprofit Athletic Organizations
    Section 4 creates ordinary negligence liability protection 
for nonprofit athletic organizations for lawsuits arising out 
of their rulemaking function in setting the rules for athletic 
competitions. This protection does not apply when harm was 
caused by gross negligence or willful, criminal, or reckless 
misconduct by the organization. These protections are identical 
to those contained within the Volunteer Protection Act, 42 
U.S.C. Sec. 14503, and only protect against negligent actions 
and decisions of a nonprofit athletic organization related to 
enacting a ``rule of play,'' as opposed to a rule related to 
hiring or eligibility. This protection does not apply when 
certain State law requirements are in effect and such 
requirements have not been met.
    Subsection 4(a) provides that a nonprofit athletic 
organization shall not be liable for harm caused by an act or 
omission of such an organization in the adoption of rules of 
play for sanctioned or approved athletic competitions or 
practices if it was acting within the scope of its duties at 
the time of the adoption of the rules; it met the applicable 
State licensing, certification or authorization requirements; 
and the harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, 
gross negligence, or reckless misconduct on the part of the 
nonprofit athletic organization. Nothing in this subsection 
would preclude a suit against a coach or referee, or the 
organization that hired such coach or referee, for claims of 
molestation or sexual battery.
    Subsection 4(b) provides that nothing in the act shall be 
construed to affect a lawsuit brought by a covered nonprofit 
athletic organization against any employee, agent, or volunteer 
of the organization. This section does not preclude a lawsuit 
by an employee, agent, or volunteer against the nonprofit 
athletic organization, provided that the suit is not related to 
the adoption of rules of play as provided in subsection 4(a).
    Subsection 4(c) provides that if the laws of a State limit 
the liability of a nonprofit athletic organization subject to 
the following conditions, those conditions must still be met by 
the organization to enjoy protection: (1) a State law that 
requires such organization to adhere to risk management 
procedures; (2) a State (respondeat superior) law that makes 
such an organization liable for the acts or omissions of its 
employees, agents, and volunteers to the same extent any 
employer is liable for acts or omissions of its employees; or 
(3) a State law that makes a limitation on liability 
inapplicable if the civil action was brought by an officer of a 
State or local government pursuant to State or local law.
    Subsection 4(d) provides that this Act shall not apply to 
any claims arising out of Federal, State, or local antitrust, 
labor, environmental, defamation, tortious interference of 
contract law, or civil rights law, or any other Federal, State, 
or local law providing protection from discrimination.
Section 5. Preemption
    Section 5 provides that this Act preempts the laws of any 
State to the extent such laws are inconsistent with the Act, 
but shall not preempt any State law that affords additional 
protection from liability relating to the rulemaking activities 
of nonprofit athletic organizations.
Section 6. Effective Date
    Section 6 provides that the Act shall take effect on the 
date of enactment and will apply to any claim for harm caused 
by a nonprofit athletic organization that is filed on or after 
the effective date, but only if the harm that is the subject of 
the claim occurred on or after the effective date.

                           Markup Transcript



                            BUSINESS MEETING

                        THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2005

                  House of Representatives,
                                Committee on the Judiciary,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:00 a.m., in 
Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable F. 
James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
    [Intervening business.]
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. Pursuant to notice, I now call up 
the bill H.R. 1176, the ``Nonprofit Athletic Organization 
Protection Act,'' for purposes of markup and move its favorable 
recommendation to the House.
    Without objection, the bill will be considered as read and 
open for amendment at any point.
    [The bill, H.R. 1176, follows:]
      
      

  
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

      
      

  
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

      
      

  
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

      
      

  
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

      
      

  
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

      
      

  
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

      
      

  
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

      
      

  
<GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT>

    Chairman Sensenbrenner. The Chair recognizes himself 
briefly to explain the bill.
    This bill, like the previous bill, is narrowly tailored to 
address the liability exposure for problems with nonprofit 
sports rulemaking bodies such as the National Federation of 
State High School Athletic Associations. These rulemaking 
bodies use the expertise of experienced volunteers to set forth 
rules for athletic competitions and practices that preserve 
sports traditions and minimize risks to participants.
    Because these organizations are not covered by the 
Volunteer Protection Act, lawsuits have dramatically increased 
insurance premiums for many rulemaking associations. The 
Federation of National High Schools saw a 300-percent increase 
in the premiums over 3 years. What this bill does is it 
provides nonprofit athletic rulemaking organizations with 
limited liability protections. I believe that this is a good 
bill. I ask unanimous consent to include a letter of support 
from the National Federation of State High School Athletic 
Associations and yield back the balance of my time.
    Mr. Conyers. Mr. Chairman?
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman from Michigan.
    Mr. Conyers. My reservations against this bill is because, 
as it's drafted, the broad immunity that 1176, this bill's 
number, extends to nonprofit athletic organizations, reaches 
far beyond the potential for frivolous lawsuits. It exempts a 
nonprofit athletic organization from liability for harm caused 
by an act or omission in the adoption of rules for sanctioned 
or approved athletic competitions or practices. So, in effect, 
this legislation will effectively bar those who have non-
frivolous lawsuits from having their day in court. Such 
lawsuits that call attention to public safety hazards are 
needed to protect our Nation's children.
    In addition, this measure would also protect the right of a 
nonprofit athletic organization to sue others. If this 
legislation is designed to suppress unnecessary litigation 
altogether, how are an organization's grievances are legitimate 
but individual complaints are not? Written to suppress only the 
outlets available to individual citizens, this legislation is 
overreaching and unfair. To me, it's hypocritical to suggest 
that these organizations be allowed to have their day in court 
while limiting the ability of individual athletes and others to 
hold them accountable.
    So these are a couple of the serious problems that seem to 
me require us to send this bill back to Subcommittee.
    Ms. Lofgren. Would the gentleman yield?
    Mr. Conyers. Of course.
    Ms. Lofgren. I would just like to concur with the 
reservations expressed by the gentleman and note that if an 
organization promulgated rules requiring adult supervision at a 
game but failed to provide for background checks or the kind of 
efforts you need to prevent children from being the victims of 
sexual predators, they would be exempt from that negligence. 
This has become a very big issue in the San Francisco Bay Area, 
and recently we've had two soccer coaches that have molested 
girls on their girls' soccer team, and it is important.
    I mean, I support athletics and I support these nonprofit 
organizations, but they have to take due diligence to make sure 
that their young charges are protected from sexual predators. 
And it is a huge mistake to exempt them from that liability if 
they don't take those prudent steps. And I thank the gentleman 
for yielding.
    Mr. Conyers. Well, the gentlelady from California has 
emphasized the point that causes my reservation. This 
legislation does not differentiate between frivolous lawsuits 
and meritorious lawsuits, and thereby it fails in a very large 
and serious way.
    Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to include my full 
statement in the record and return the balance of my time.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. And, without objection, so ordered.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Conyers follows:]

Prepared Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative 
 in Congress from the State of Michigan, and Ranking Member, Committee 
                            on the Judiciary

    Mr. Chairman, I oppose this legislation. As drafted, H.R. 1176 
provides immunity for nonprofit athletic organization from lawsuits in 
the adoption of rules for sanctioned or approved athletic competitions 
or practices. This legislation would virtually eliminate any valid 
claims from being brought forth.
    Specifically, the legislation does not differentiate between 
meritorious lawsuits and frivolous lawsuits. H.R. 1176 prohibits civil 
litigation of any grievance arising under the rules promulgated by a 
nonprofit sporting organization. As drafted, the broad immunity H.R. 
1176 extends to nonprofit athletic organizations reaches far beyond the 
potential for ``frivolous'' lawsuits in the federal judicial system. It 
exempts a nonprofit athletic organization from liability for harm 
caused by an act or omission in the adoption of rules for sanctioned or 
approved athletic competitions or practices if: (1) the organization 
was acting within the scope of its duties; (2) the organization was 
properly licensed, certified, or authorized for the competition or 
practice; and (3) the harm was not caused by the organization's willful 
or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, or reckless misconduct. So 
while lawsuits filed by parents because their child was not put on a 
team may rightly be dismissed, cases with legal merit, such as a rule 
which endangers the life of a child, would also be dismissed. In 
effect, this legislation will effectively bar them from their day in 
court. Such lawsuits call attention to public safety hazards are needed 
to protect our nation's children.
    Additionally, H.R. 1176 also protects the right of a nonprofit 
athletic organization to sue others. If this legislation is designed to 
suppress unnecessary litigation altogether, how are an organization's 
grievances are legitimate but individual complaints are not? Written to 
suppress only the outlets available to individual citizens, this 
legislation is simply overreaching and unfair. It is the height of 
hypocrisy to suggest that these organizations be allowed to have their 
day in court while limiting the ability of individual athletes and 
others to hold them accountable.
    There are serious problems with this legislation. I urge my 
colleagues to oppose H.R. 1176.

    Chairman Sensenbrenner. Also without objection, all Members 
may include opening statements in the record at this point.
    [The prepared statement of Ms. Waters follows:]

Prepared Statement of the Honorable Maxine Waters, a Representative in 
                 Congress from the State of California

    Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition of this legislation, H.R. 1176, 
the ``Nonprofit Athletic Organization Protection Act.'' This bill 
provides immunity for nonprofit athletic organizations in lawsuits 
arising from claims of ordinary negligence relating to the passage or 
adoption of rules for athletic competitions and practices. As a member 
of the House Judiciary Committee, many of my colleagues have 
reservations about the broad sweep of immunity that this bill will give 
to certain organizations and eliminate valid discrimination claims.
    H.R. 1176 would provide immunity for any act or omission of a 
nonprofit athletic organization and its employees in the adoption of 
rules for sanctioned or approved athletic competitions or practices. 
This broad sweep of immunity would virtually eliminate valid 
discrimination claims such as those found in the following cases:
    In Cureton v. NCAA, a class of African-American student-athletes 
challenged the National Collegiate Athletic Association's rule 
requiring all potential student-athletes to achieve a minimum score on 
the SAT or the ACT. Early on, the Educational Testing Services (ETS), 
which designed the SAT, criticized the NCAA's then-proposed use of a 
fixed cut-off score and warned such a rule would have a 
disproportionate impact on African-American students. It did in fact 
have such an impact, but the NCAA did not change its rule. Only when 
this class brought a civil action did the NCAA change its rule so that 
student athletes could be eligible for Division I schools on the basis 
of their grades, not just their test scores.
    In PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 
Americans with Disabilities Act requires the PGA Tour to allow 
professional golfer Casey Martin , who suffers from a circulatory 
disorder making it painful to walk long distances, to ride in a golf 
cart between shots at Tour events. The nonprofit PGA had ruled that 
walking the course is an integral part of golf, and Martin would gain 
an unfair advantage using the cart. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme 
Court decided that the PGA could not deny Martin equal access to its 
tours on the basis of his disability.
    Moreover, in Michigan High School Athletic Association v. 
Communities for Equity, a federal district court ruled that the state's 
high school athletic association practice of scheduling its female 
teams during nontraditional seasons discriminated against female 
athletes. The court found that scheduling the girls' sports, but not 
boys' sports, during nontraditional seasons resulted in limited 
opportunities for athletic scholarships and collegiate recruitment, 
limited opportunities to play in club or Olympic development programs, 
and missed opportunities for awards and recognition.
    H.R. 1176 allows nonprofit athletic organizations to sue, but not 
be sued. It is the height of hypocrisy to suggest that these 
organizations be allowed to have their day in court while limiting the 
ability of individual athletes and others to hold them accountable.
    There is no need for Congress to preempt state law. If states want 
to protect certain state athletic organizations, they can do so right 
not without any action by Congress. Unfortunately, H.R. 1176 doesn't 
just preempt state law. It preempts state law that gives more 
protections to athletes and leaves in places states that give 
additional liability protections to nonprofit athletic organizations.
    I urge my colleagues to see this bill for what it really does, 
catering to special interests. Please join me in voting against HR 
1176. Thank you.

    Chairman Sensenbrenner. Are there amendments? Are there 
amendments?
    [No response.]
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. If there are no amendments, a 
reporting quorum is present. The question occurs on the motion 
to report the bill H.R. 1176 favorably. All those in favor will 
say aye? Opposed, no?
    The ayes appear to have it. The ayes have it, and the 
motion to report favorably is agreed to.
    Without objection, the staff is directed to make any 
technical and conforming changes, and all Members may be given 
2 days, as provided by the House rules, in which to submit 
additional, dissenting, supplemental, or minority views.
    And last, but not least, the next item on the agenda is the 
adoption of H.R. 2955, the ``Intellectual Property Jurisdiction 
Clarification Act of 2005.'' The Chair recognizes the gentleman 
from Texas, Mr. Smith, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on 
Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, for a motion.
    Mr. Smith. Mr. Chairman, the Subcommittee on Courts, the 
Internet, and Intellectual Property reports favorably the bill 
H.R. 2955 and moves its favorable recommendation to the full 
House.
    [Intervening business.]
    The business noticed on today's schedule having been 
concluded, without objection, the Committee stands adjourned.
    [Whereupon, at 11:01 a.m., the Committee was adjourned.]

                            Dissenting Views

    We strongly oppose H.R. 1176, the ``Nonprofit Athletic 
Organization Protection Act of 2005,'' which would extend 
immunity to nonprofit athletic organizations in lawsuits 
arising from claims of ordinary negligence relating to the 
passage or adoption of rules for athletic competitions and 
practices. While proponents maintain this legislation was 
designed to protect nonprofit athletic organizations from 
unnecessary litigation relating to physical safety regulations, 
its effects would all but eliminate any valid claims brought 
against such organizations, including civil rights claims.
    H.R. 1176 is problematic for several reasons. First, under 
H.R. 1176, valid cases would be affected as well as frivolous 
claims. Second, this legislation is overly broad. It would go 
beyond the ``physical harm'' claims the sponsors state are 
intended to be encompassed by the legislation and would affect 
legitimate claims and matters that arises from nonprofit 
athletic organizations' rules for practices and competitions. 
Third, this legislation provides one-way immunity--the 
nonprofit athlete organization would receive immunity yet 
retain its right to sue.

A. THE LEGISLATION DOES NOT DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN MERITORIOUS LAWSUITS 
                         AND FRIVOLOUS CLAIMS.

    The broad immunity that is extended to nonprofit athletic 
organizations reaches far beyond the potential for 
``frivolous'' lawsuits. H.R. 1176 prohibits civil litigation of 
any grievance arising under the rules promulgated by a 
nonprofit sporting organization. Specifically, H.R. 1176 
exempts a nonprofit athletic organization from liability for 
harm caused by an act or omission in the adoption of rules for 
sanctioned or approved athletic competitions or practices if: 
(1) the organization was acting within the scope of its duties; 
(2) the organization was properly licensed, certified, or 
authorized for the competition or practice; and (3) the harm 
was not caused by the organization's willful or criminal 
misconduct, gross negligence, or reckless misconduct.
    So while a lawsuit filed by parents because their child was 
not put on a team may rightly be dismissed (and would be 
dismissed under current law without the benefit of this 
legislation), cases with legal merit, such as a case 
challenging a rule that endangers the life of a child, would 
also be dismissed. In effect, this legislation will bar young 
athletes and their families from having their day in court for 
an entire range of legal actions--frivolous as well as non-
frivolous. H.R. 1176 would dramatically obstruct valid, 
meritorious claims that call attention to public safety 
hazards, discriminatory practices, and are needed to protect 
our nation's children.
    Proponents of the legislation claim that it is designed to 
narrowly limit a nonprofit athletic organizations' immunity in 
``physical harm'' claims. However, the effect of the bill is 
vast and far reaching. This legislation would inadvertently 
protect individuals who could potentially harm children. During 
the Judiciary Committee markup, Representative Lofgren remarked 
that if a poor hiring rule was in place that did not screen out 
pedophiles, parents would be barred from suing the athletic 
association regarding that rule. While the sponsors claim their 
true intent was to eliminate physical harm claims, the 
legislation, as drafted, eliminates any and all civil actions 
relating to practices and procedures of a non-profit athletic 
organization.

                B. H.R. 1176 PROVIDES ONE WAY IMMUNITY.

    Significantly, while immunizing nonprofit athletic 
organizations from civil claims, H.R. 1176 protects the right 
of a nonprofit athletic organization to sue others.\1\ If this 
legislation is designed to suppress unnecessary litigation 
altogether, it fails to describe how an organization's 
grievances are legitimate but individual complaints are not. 
Written to suppress the only outlets available to athletes and 
their families, this legislation is overreaching. It is unfair 
to provide that these organizations be allowed to have their 
day in court while limiting the ability of individual athletes 
and others to hold them accountable.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ H.R. 1176, sec. 3(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                               CONCLUSION

    As we have in the past, we are willing to work with the 
Majority to develop reasonable legislation that protects non-
profit groups from unnecessary litigation while insuring that 
meritorious claims are protected. H.R. 1176 however, does not 
meet this test. Instead of protecting good faith and reasonable 
actions by non-profit athletic associations designed to protect 
athletes from physical harm, the bill massively overreaches and 
limits legitimate actions.

                                   John Conyers, Jr.
                                   Bobby Scott.
                                   Maxine Waters.
                                   Bill Delahunt.
                                   Linda T. Sanchez
                                   Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
                                   Howard L. Berman.
                                   Melvin L. Watt.