Legislation would protect against frivolous lawsuits
State Rep. Ken Borton on Tuesday introduced a bipartisan plan to ensure Michigan campgrounds can continue to serve as natural, safe vacation destinations.
Borton, R-Gaylord, introduced House Bill 5862 to protect campgrounds against frivolous lawsuits based on risks that naturally accompany camping.
“Northern Michigan campgrounds are great vacation spots for local residents and tourists to stay in our scenic outdoors,” Borton said. “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.”
Vince Rogala, owner of Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping in Mackinaw City and president of Camp Michigan, said: “There are countless opportunities for camping in Michigan — with unlimited benefits. This legislation will help campground owners run safe camps without fear of frivolous lawsuits. Campground owners across the state look forward to working with Rep. Borton, the other bill sponsors and the entire Michigan Legislature to preserve our terrific Michigan campgrounds.”
Borton’s plan would provide an owner or employee of a private campground immunity from civil liability for physical harm or property damage resulting from an inherent risk of camping. The bill details examples of inherent risks, such as features of the natural world, lack of lighting, weather, campfires, wildlife, other visitors’ actions, fireworks not authorized by the campground, and use of playground or pool equipment. A campground would be required to post signage at any registration area stating that the campground is not liable for inherent risks of camping, with listed examples.
The plan maintains reasonable expectations for campground safety precautions. A campground owner or employee would not be allowed to obtain immunity for intentional harm or reckless disregard for safety. Immunity would also not apply if the person failed to post warning signs after a previous injury resulted because of a particular inconspicuous danger.
Borton noted that a similar proposal was recently passed and signed into law in Ohio.
HB 5862 was referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
State Rep. Ken Borton, of Gaylord, joined other House Appropriations Committee members today in advancing a budget plan that provides needed tax relief, makes crucial investments in public services such as roads and schools, and pays off debt.