Senate passes ‘Landowner Protection Act’

The Mississippi Senate has passed the ‘Landowner Protection Act’. 

The bill seeks to reduce liability for property/business owners and their employees should a person get hurt on their property and decide to sue. The majority of the debate on the floor centered around the responsibility of a business or property owner to create and maintain a safe space, and the bill ultimately passed 32-17.

The bill does include language stating that if a business owner ignores signs that lead to violence or harm, they could still be liable. The author of the bill, Senator Josh Harkins, said that the bill was introduced as a way to ensure small businesses are not targeted with unnecessary lawsuits. 

In a recent op-ed, Graham Carner, President of the Mississippi Association for Justice, said that if the bill is signed into law, Mississippi will become less safe, and it will lead to a diminished sense of security. 

“Landowners will no longer be held responsible if they ignore known dangers on their property. This will result in them not taking simple safety measures such as adequate lighting, surveillance cameras, running off people they know to be violent, or other basic security that customers have come to expect,” he wrote.

Governor Bryant supports the bill and says that if trial lawyers are upset, then it must be a good bill for business owners. 

“When you see the trial lawyers that are screaming, that means that there is something good happening for businesses and for individual landowners across the state,” the Governor said.

Responding to the claim that the bill would lead to lack of security, Governor Bryant shrugged it off. 

“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “This is to simply protect landowners, farmers, and business owners. This is a litigious society, and you’re going to get sued if anybody walks on your property and hurts themselves, and we should not be at risk simply because we own property and try to run a small business.”

Ahead of the Tuesday deadline for bills to pass out of the committee stage, a similar bill in the House reportedly led to a shouting match after the bill was pushed through before several Representatives felt that they were able to voice their opposition.

The bill passed through the Senate with no amendments. The House has yet to take up their version of the bill.