Laws & Guidance ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION
Subpart 5 — Teacher Liability Protection

SEC. 2361  |  SEC. 2362  |  SEC. 2363  |  SEC. 2364  |  SEC. 2365  |  SEC. 2366  |  SEC. 2367  |  SEC. 2368

SEC. 2361. SHORT TITLE.

    This subpart may be cited as the 'Paul D. Coverdell Teacher Protection Act of 2001'.

SEC. 2362. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this subpart is to provide teachers, principals, and other school professionals the tools they need to undertake reasonable actions to maintain order, discipline, and an appropriate educational environment.

SEC. 2363. DEFINITIONS.

    For purposes of this subpart:

      (1) ECONOMIC LOSS- The term economic loss' means any pecuniary loss resulting from harm (including the loss of earnings or other benefits related to employment, medical expense loss, replacement services loss, loss due to death, burial costs, and loss of business or employment opportunities) to the extent recovery for such loss is allowed under applicable State law.

      (2) HARM- The term harm' includes physical, nonphysical, economic, and noneconomic losses.

      (3) NONECONOMIC LOSS- The term noneconomic loss' means loss for physical or emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of society or companionship, loss of consortium (other than loss of domestic service), hedonic damages, injury to reputation, or any other nonpecuniary loss of any kind or nature.

      (4) SCHOOL- The term school' means a public or private kindergarten, a public or private elementary school or secondary school, or a home school.

      (5) STATE- The term State' means each of the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, any other territory or possession of the United States, or any political subdivision of any such State, territory, or possession.

      (6) TEACHER- The term teacher' means--

        (A) a teacher, instructor, principal, or administrator;

        (B) another educational professional who works in a school;

        (C) a professional or nonprofessional employee who —

          (i) works in a school; and

          (ii)(I) in the employee's job, maintains discipline or ensures safety; or

          (II) in an emergency, is called on to maintain discipline or ensure safety; or

        (D) an individual member of a school board (as distinct from the board).

SEC. 2364. APPLICABILITY.

    This subpart shall only apply to States that receive funds under this Act, and shall apply to such a State as a condition of receiving such funds.

SEC. 2365. PREEMPTION AND ELECTION OF STATE NONAPPLICABILITY.

    (a) PREEMPTION- This subpart preempts the laws of any State to the extent that such laws are inconsistent with this subpart, except that this subpart shall not preempt any State law that provides additional protection from liability relating to teachers.

SEC. 2366. LIMITATION ON LIABILITY FOR TEACHERS.

    (a) LIABILITY PROTECTION FOR TEACHERS- Except as provided in subsection (b), no teacher in a school shall be liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the teacher on behalf of the school if —

      (1) the teacher was acting within the scope of the teacher's employment or responsibilities to a school or governmental entity;

      (2) the actions of the teacher were carried out in conformity with Federal, State, and local laws (including rules and regulations) in furtherance of efforts to control, discipline, expel, or suspend a student or maintain order or control in the classroom or school;

      (3) if appropriate or required, the teacher was properly licensed, certified, or authorized by the appropriate authorities for the activities or practice involved in the State in which the harm occurred, where the activities were or practice was undertaken within the scope of the teacher's responsibilities;

      (4) the harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the teacher; and

      (5) the harm was not caused by the teacher operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle for which the State requires the operator or the owner of the vehicle, craft, or vessel to —

        (A) possess an operator's license; or

        (B) maintain insurance.

    (b) EXCEPTIONS TO TEACHER LIABILITY PROTECTION- If the laws of a State limit teacher liability subject to one or more of the following conditions, such conditions shall not be construed as inconsistent with this section:

      (1) A State law that requires a school or governmental entity to adhere to risk management procedures, including mandatory training of teachers.

      (2) A State law that makes the school or governmental entity liable for the acts or omissions of its teachers to the same extent as an employer is liable for the acts or omissions of its employees.

      ate law that makes a limitation of liability inapplicable if the civil action was brought by an officer of a State or local government pursuant to State or local law.

    (c) LIMITATION ON PUNITIVE DAMAGES BASED ON THE ACTIONS OF TEACHERS-

      (1) GENERAL RULE- Punitive damages may not be awarded against a teacher in an action brought for harm based on the act or omission of a teacher acting within the scope of the teacher's employment or responsibilities to a school or governmental entity unless the claimant establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the harm was proximately caused by an act or omission of such teacher that constitutes willful or criminal misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed.

      (2) CONSTRUCTION- Paragraph (1) does not create a cause of action for punitive damages and does not preempt or supersede any Federal or State law to the extent that such law would further limit the award of punitive damages.

    (d) EXCEPTIONS TO LIMITATIONS ON LIABILITY-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The limitations on the liability of a teacher under this subpart shall not apply to any misconduct that —

        (A) constitutes a crime of violence (as that term is defined in section 16 of title 18, United States Code) or act of international terrorism (as that term is defined in section 2331 of title 18, United States Code) for which the defendant has been convicted in any court;

        (B) involves a sexual offense, as defined by applicable State law, for which the defendant has been convicted in any court;

        (C) involves misconduct for which the defendant has been found to have violated a Federal or State civil rights law; or

        (D) where the defendant was under the influence (as determined pursuant to applicable State law) of intoxicating alcohol or any drug at the time of the misconduct.

      (2) HIRING- The limitations on the liability of a teacher under this subpart shall not apply to misconduct during background investigations, or during other actions, involved in the hiring of a teacher.

    (e) RULES OF CONSTRUCTION-

      (1) CONCERNING RESPONSIBILITY OF TEACHERS TO SCHOOLS AND GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect any civil action brought by any school or any governmental entity against any teacher of such school.

      (2) CONCERNING CORPORAL PUNISHMENT- Nothing in this subpart shall be construed to affect any State or local law (including a rule or regulation) or policy pertaining to the use of corporal punishment.

SEC. 2367. ALLOCATION OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR NONECONOMIC LOSS.

    (a) GENERAL RULE- In any civil action against a teacher, based on an act or omission of a teacher acting within the scope of the teacher's employment or responsibilities to a school or governmental entity, the liability of the teacher for noneconomic loss shall be determined in accordance with subsection (b).

    (b) AMOUNT OF LIABILITY-

      (1) IN GENERAL-

        (A) LIABILITY- Each defendant who is a teacher shall be liable only for the amount of noneconomic loss allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to the percentage of responsibility of that defendant (determined in accordance with paragraph (2)) for the harm to the claimant with respect to which that defendant is liable.

        (B) SEPARATE JUDGMENT- The court shall render a separate judgment against each defendant in an amount determined pursuant to subparagraph (A).

      (2) PERCENTAGE OF RESPONSIBILITY- For purposes of determining the amount of noneconomic loss allocated to a defendant who is a teacher under this section, the trier of fact shall determine the percentage of responsibility of each person responsible for the claimant's harm, whether or not such person is a party to the action.

    (c) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt or supersede any Federal or State law that further limits the application of joint liability in a civil action described in subsection (a), beyond the limitations established in this section.

SEC. 2368. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    (a) IN GENERAL- This subpart shall take effect 90 days after the date of enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

    (b) APPLICATION- This subpart applies to any claim for harm caused by an act or omission of a teacher if that claim is filed on or after the effective date of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 without regard to whether the harm that is the subject of the claim or the conduct that caused the harm occurred before such effective date.


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Last Modified: 09/15/2004