September 3, 2006
The House Judiciary Committee last week gave a thumbs-up to the Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act (H.R.1871). The proposed law would prevent liability suits against pilots who volunteer to fly critically ill patients or organs needed for transplant.
"Recently disaster relief volunteers have been hampered by burdensome legal hurdles that prevent them from providing immediate and effective assistance, as was the case during hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This legislation is key to helping literally tens of thousands of people receive life-saving care," said Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.), who sponsored the legislation.
AOPA has joined other aviation organizations in supporting the bill, which would amend the Good Samaritan Act to protect volunteer pilots and their organizations, along with the referring nonprofit agencies, from lawsuits in the event of an accident. It would not protect acts of gross negligence or criminal conduct on the part of the pilot.
Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by George Allen (R-Va.) and is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"We hope that the valuable contributions of volunteer pilots and the organizational members of The Air Care Alliance following the Hurricane Katrina and Rita disasters will demonstrate to members of Congress the importance of making this legislation law," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs.
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