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AB-1151 Fire damages: civil actions: pecuniary damages and ecological and environmental damages.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 03/28/2019 09:00 PM
AB1151:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 28, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1151


Introduced by Assembly Member Daly

February 21, 2019


An act to amend add Section 13009.2 of 13007.1 to, and to repeal Section 13009.2 of, the Health and Safety Code, relating to fines. fire damages.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1151, as amended, Daly. Fire damages: civil actions: public agencies: pecuniary damages and ecological and environmental damages.
Existing law provides that, in a civil action by a public agency to recover damages caused by a fire, pecuniary damages must be quantifiable and not unreasonable in relation to the prefire fair market value of the property, taking into consideration the ecological and environmental value of the property to the public. Existing law additionally authorizes a public agency to recover ecological and environmental damages caused by the fire, as provided.

This bill would make a nonsubstantive change to these provisions.

This bill would instead provide that in a civil action seeking damages caused by a fire, pecuniary damages must be quantifiable and not unreasonable in relation to the prefire fair market value of the damaged property or the prefire market value of similar property. The bill would require that recoverable pecuniary damages be calculated pursuant to specified categories that include property damages, as provided, and short-term costs, as provided, and would also authorize the award of environmental and ecological damages. The bill would provide that a plaintiff who claims environmental damages of any kind under these provisions shall not seek to enhance any pecuniary or environmental damages recovered under these provisions, except as specified.
The bill would provide that its provisions are not intended to limit or change the ability of a public agency to recover costs arising from a fire as provided in other specified provisions of law. The bill would expressly provide that its provisions shall apply only to a civil action filed on or after January 1, 2020.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 13007.1 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

13007.1.
 (a) In a civil action seeking damages caused by a fire, pecuniary damages must be quantifiable and not unreasonable in relation to the prefire fair market value of the damaged property or the prefire market value of similar property. The recoverable pecuniary damages shall be calculated pursuant to the following categories:
(1) Property damages may be awarded based on either (A) the restoration and rehabilitation costs associated with bringing the damaged property back to its preinjured state or replacement or acquisition costs of equivalent value, or (B) the diminution in value of property as a result of the fire, including lost timber value, or some combination thereof.
(2) Short-term costs related to immediate damages suffered as a result of the fire shall also be recoverable as property damages, so long as the short-term costs are not otherwise included in the property damages identified in paragraph (1). Short-term costs may include items such as burned area emergency response costs, costs associated with discrete restoration activities related to repair and replacement of real property improvements, and remediation and eradication costs relative to invasive species and any other nonnative infestation caused by or exacerbated by sudden burn area conditions.
(b) Environmental and ecological damages caused by the fire may be awarded in addition to the damages authorized by paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a), provided those environmental and ecological damages are quantifiable and reasonable, are not addressed by the damages set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a), and do not cause total pecuniary damages to become unreasonable in relation to the prefire fair market value of the property or the prefire market value of similar property. Ecological and environmental damages may include, but are not limited to, such items as lost recreational value, lost interim use, lost historical and archeological value, damage to wildlife, wildlife habitat, water or soil quality, or plants, damage to any rare natural features of the property, and lost aesthetic value.
(c) A plaintiff who claims environmental damages of any kind under subdivision (a) or (b) shall not seek to enhance any pecuniary or environmental damages recovered under this section. This section is not intended to alter the law regarding whether Section 3346 of the Civil Code or Section 733 of the Code of Civil Procedure can be used to enhance fire damages, but this section does confirm that if a plaintiff claims environmental damages under subdivision (a) or (b), it shall not seek to enhance any damages recovered under this section for any reason and shall not use Section 3346 of the Civil Code or Section 733 of the Code of Civil Procedure to do so, regardless of whether those sections might otherwise apply.
(d) This section is not intended to limit or change the ability of a public agency to recover costs arising from a fire as provided in Sections 13009 and 13009.1.
(e) This section shall apply only to a civil action filed on or after January 1, 2020.

SEC. 2.

 Section 13009.2 of the Health and Safety Code is repealed.
13009.2.

(a)In a civil action by a public agency seeking damages caused by a fire, pecuniary damages must be quantifiable and not unreasonable in relation to the prefire fair market value of the property, taking into consideration the ecological and environmental value of the property to the public. The only recoverable pecuniary damages shall be:

(1)Either the restoration and rehabilitation costs associated with bringing the damaged property back to its preinjured state or replacement or acquisition costs of equivalent value, or diminution in value of property as a result of the fire, including lost timber value, or some combination thereof.

(2)Short-term costs related to immediate damages suffered as a result of the fire, such as burned area emergency response costs, costs associated with discrete restoration activities related to repair and replacement of real property improvements, and remediation and eradication costs relative to invasive species and any other nonnative infestation caused by or exacerbated by sudden burn area conditions.

(b)In addition to the damages authorized by subdivision (a), a public agency may also recover ecological and environmental damages caused by the fire, if those damages are quantifiable, and are not redressed by the damages set forth in subdivision (a), taking into consideration the ecological and environmental value of the property to the public. Ecological and environmental damages may include:

(1)Lost recreational value.

(2)Lost interim use.

(3)Lost historical and archeological value.

(4)Damage to wildlife, wildlife habitat, water or soil quality, or plants.

(5)Damage to any rare natural features of the property.

(6)Lost aesthetic value.

(c)In assessing the reasonableness of damages under subdivision (b), the prefire fair market value of the property is relevant and one factor to be considered, in addition to the other factors listed in subdivision (b).

(d)A public agency plaintiff who claims environmental damages of any kind under subdivision (a) or (b) shall not seek to enhance any pecuniary or environmental damages recovered under this section. This section is not intended to alter the law regarding whether Section 3346 of the Civil Code or Section 733 of the Code of Civil Procedure can be used to enhance fire damages, but this section does confirm that if a public agency claims environmental damages under subdivision (a) or (b), it shall not seek to enhance any damages recovered under this section for any reason, and shall not use Section 3346 of the Civil Code or Section 733 of the Code of Civil Procedure to do so, regardless of whether those sections might otherwise apply. This section is not intended to limit or change the ability of a public agency to recover costs arising from a fire as provided in Sections 13009 and 13009.1.

(e)For purposes of this section, the term “public agency” means the United States of America or any political subdivision thereof, the State of California, any city, county, district, public agency, or any other public subdivision of the state.

(f)This section shall apply only to a civil action filed on or after the effective date of the act adding this section.

SECTION 1.Section 13009.2 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:
13009.2.

(a)In any civil action by a public agency seeking damages caused by a fire, pecuniary damages must be quantifiable and not unreasonable in relation to the prefire fair market value of the property, taking into consideration the ecological and environmental value of the property to the public. The only recoverable pecuniary damages shall be:

(1)Either the restoration and rehabilitation costs associated with bringing the damaged property back to its preinjured state or replacement or acquisition costs of equivalent value, or diminution in value of property as a result of the fire, including lost timber value, or some combination thereof.

(2)Short-term costs related to immediate damages suffered as a result of the fire, such as burned area emergency response costs, costs associated with discrete restoration activities related to repair and replacement of real property improvements, and remediation and eradication costs relative to invasive species and any other nonnative infestation caused by or exacerbated by sudden burn area conditions.

(b)In addition to the damages authorized by subdivision (a), a public agency may also recover ecological and environmental damages caused by the fire, if those damages are quantifiable, and are not redressed by the damages set forth in subdivision (a), taking into consideration the ecological and environmental value of the property to the public. Ecological and environmental damages may include:

(1)Lost recreational value.

(2)Lost interim use.

(3)Lost historical and archeological value.

(4)Damage to wildlife, wildlife habitat, water or soil quality, or plants.

(5)Damage to any rare natural features of the property.

(6)Lost aesthetic value.

(c)In assessing the reasonableness of damages under subdivision (b), the prefire fair market value of the property is relevant and one factor to be considered, in addition to the other factors listed in subdivision (b).

(d)A public agency plaintiff who claims environmental damages of any kind under subdivision (a) or (b) shall not seek to enhance any pecuniary or environmental damages recovered under this section. This section is not intended to alter the law regarding whether Section 3346 of the Civil Code or Section 733 of the Code of Civil Procedure can be used to enhance fire damages, but this section does confirm that if a public agency claims environmental damages under subdivision (a) or (b), it shall not seek to enhance any damages recovered under this section for any reason, and shall not use Section 3346 of the Civil Code or Section 733 of the Code of Civil Procedure to do so, regardless of whether those sections might otherwise apply. This section is not intended to limit or change the ability of a public agency to recover costs arising from a fire as provided in Sections 13009 and 13009.1.

(e)For purposes of this section, the term “public agency” means the United States of America or any political subdivision thereof, the State of California, any city, county, district, public agency, or any other public subdivision of the state.

(f)This section shall apply only to a civil action filed on or after the effective date of the act adding this section.