California Legislature Guts Knight’s Informed Consent Law

State Sen. Steve Knight
State Sen. Steve Knight

An effort by State Sen. Steve Knight to extend liability protections to spaceflight providers and spacecraft manufacturers, equipment suppliers, and service providers is failing in the California Legislature.

The Senate has removed language from the measure that would have required that a spaceflight provider to enter into “a reciprocal waiver of claims with its contractors, subcontractors, customers, participants, and contractors and subcontractors of the customers or participants, as specified.”

The reciprocal waiver language was a substitute for an original provision in the bill that would have expanded the definition of a spaceflight entity to include “a manufacturer or supplier of components, services, or vehicles.” The Senate had earlier removed that language from the measure.

The intent of Knight’s measure was to provide broad liability protections to spaceflight providers and their suppliers from being sued if passengers were injured or killed during spaceflights. The industry says it needs this protection so companies won’t be sued out of existence in what is inherently a dangerous undertaking.

Knight’s extensive bill has been paired down to the following provisions:

 (a) A space flight entity providing space flight activities to a participant shall have each participant sign a warning statement that shall contain, at a minimum, and in addition to any language required by federal law, the following notice:

“WARNING AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT: I understand and acknowledge that, under California law, there is limited civil liability for bodily injury, including death, emotional injury, or property damage, sustained by a participant as a result of the inherent risks associated with space flight activities provided by a space flight entity. I have given my informed consent to participate in space flight activities after receiving a description of the inherent risks associated with space flight activities, as required by federal law pursuant to Section 50905 of Title 51 of the United States Code and Section 460.45 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The consent that I have given acknowledges that the inherent risks associated with space flight activities include, but are not limited to, risk of bodily injury, including death, emotional injury, and property damage. I understand and acknowledge that I am participating in space flight activities at my own risk. I have been given the opportunity to consult with an attorney before signing this statement.”

(b) Failure to comply with the requirements provided in this section shall prevent a space flight entity from invoking the privileges of immunity provided by Section 2212.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to be contrary to the public policy of this state.

The measure is now in the State Assembly.