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ACT NO. 62

(H.453)

Tort Claims Against Municipal Employees

This act modifies the way that tort claims are brought against municipal employees and municipal volunteers. It requires that when an act or omission of a municipal employee causes harm to another person, the injured party shall bring the suit against the municipality on behalf of the employee. It requires that when the municipality is the defendant in place of the municipal employee, the municipality waives all defenses available to the municipality and assumes all defenses available to the municipal employee. It requires if a municipal employee is improperly named as a defendant in a proceeding, the municipal employer is required to reimburse legal defense costs to the employee and it requires in certain situations that the municipality reimburse an employee for the employee’s litigation costs. It does not extend these protections to municipal employees or volunteers whose actions were willful, intentional, or outside the scope of duties. It establishes that when there are two or more statutes that grant protection to a municipal employee for tortuous conduct and those statutes conflict, the court shall apply the statute with the greatest protections for the municipal employee.

In addition, this act requires that the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration report to the general assembly on the supreme court’s interpretation of 23 V.S.A. § 941(f).

This act also permits a municipality to collect an additional $10.00 surcharge from a person who violates a municipal ordinance. This surcharge is assessed when the judicial bureau finds the defendant in violation and the defendant fails to pay the fine, and an additional $10.00 surcharge shall be assessed if the district court finds that the defendant is in contempt and has failed to pay the fine.

Effective Dates: Secs. 1 (municipal tort claims) and 3 (surcharges on municipal ordinance violations) take effect for acts and omissions occurring on or after July 1, 2003. Sec. 2 is effective on July 1, 2003.