Sen. Charbonneou’s SB 146 extending tort claim protection to certain postsecondary educational institutions has passed through second reading and is eligible for a vote on the Senate floor. It extends tort claim protection to “approved postsecondary educational institutions” as defined under IC 21-7-13-6(a)(1).
This means: “1) A postsecondary educational institution that operates inIndiana and:(A) provides an organized two (2) year or longer program ofcollegiate grade directly creditable toward a baccalaureatedegree;(B) is either operated by the state or operated nonprofit; and(C) is accredited by a recognized regional accrediting agency, including: [list of numerous Indiana colleges] or is accredited by the board for proprietary education underIC 21-18.5-6 or an accrediting agency recognized by theUnited States Department of Education.”
To be eligible for the protection the institution also has to share data with the Commission for Higher Education under IC 21-12-12-1.
I wish I had a list of examples of institutions this is supposed to help. But, it looks like it’s helping out private, non-government colleges which strikes me as inappropriate for application of the Indiana Tort Claims Act. The Indiana Tort Claims Act is a provision that continues the old notion of sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity was based on the idea that the sovereign could do no wrong and insulated him from application of the civil laws. That idea fell into disfavor in so broad a form and, so, has been implemented in a much more limited form under ITCA. Still, it means that the government is immune from civil suits that might well result in big judgments against private citizens under similar circumstances. One of the rationales for the immunity is to protect the public coffers — protect taxpayers from burdensome and unpredictable tax assessments resulting from litigation over government functions that are necessary, even if sometimes they result in injury to private citizens.
Extending this protection to private institutions strikes me as peculiar. I’d love to know the rationale for this.