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Trespasser bill minus amendments gets rerun in House

By Chris Steller

The House repassed a bill Thursday that would prevent, in most cases, landowners from owing a “duty of care” to trespassers.

Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau), who sponsors HF985*/ SF1196 with Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), said repassage would return the bill to the language before amended on the House Floor.

Rep. Dan Fabian

The vote was 88-46. The bill now goes to Gov. Mark Dayton.

When first passed by the House April 27, two amendments were successfully offered by Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul). The first would exempt children from the bill’s provisions on trespassers. The second, as successfully amended by a Fabian amendment, would define a trespasser as someone who “has unlawfully or wrongfully entered the land through their physical presence or through the physical presence of another tangible object or substance which interferes with the owner's right of exclusive possession."

The Senate passed the bill without the amendments 39-27 May 16.

Limits on when a trespasser can sue already exist in common law, as well as state statute. The bill states: “An owner of real property owes no duty of care to a trespasser except in those circumstances where a common law or statutory right of action existed as of the effective date of this section.”

Current law allows persons pursuing outdoor recreation to go onto private land they don’t own if they have an owner’s permission. But another law says such an owner doesn’t have a duty to maintain the land or warn about dangers there. 

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