California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today (August 6) signed into law State Senator John J. Benoit's (R-Bermuda Dunes) Good Samaritan Protection Act (Senate Bill 39). Benoit's bill adds additional protection from prosecution for disaster service workers. Previous law provided that no disaster worker who performs disaster services during a state of war emergency, a state of emergency, or a local emergency shall be liable for civil damages on account of personal injury to or death of any person or property. Benoit's bill extends that protection to encompass acts of disaster workers "acting within the scope of their responsibilities under the authority of the govennmental emergency organization, as provided." It provides these protections for legal action filed on or after the effective date of this bill.
Benoit worked in conjunction with Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) who authored companion bill AB 83 which contained language originally in SB 39. AB 83, also signed into law by the governor on August 6, corrects a December 2008 California Supreme Court decision that had revised the state's long standing Good Samaritan bill by stripping protection from prosecution of those bystanders who provide rescue at the scene of an emergency.
Feuer's bill, with Benoit's original language, restores protection to those who provide rescue as well as those who provide medical aid.
This is Benoit's first piece of legislation to become law since he became a state senator.