Senate Bill Would Limit Contractors' Risk of

Washington, D.C., September 23, 2005 -— The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) applauded the “Gulf Coast Recovery Act” introduced today by Senator John Thune (R–South Dakota). It will help prevent contractors responding to Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters from being sued simply for providing the assistance that federal, state and local officials need to restore some sense of normalcy to the affected areas. “This legislation will enable contractors to continue their long practice of helping the government deal with national disasters without the risk of becoming the target of the next class action,” said AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr. “We think it is important for companies aiding government rescue, recovery and reconstruction to have some reasonable measure of protection from the risk of future litigation for providing essentially public services in a time of crisis.” Private construction contractors have enabled the nation to recover from one disaster after another. They were quick to arrive on the scene of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and for most of the following year, they worked hand-in-hand with federal, state and local officials on rescue, recovery and clean up efforts. Yet class actions, alleging mass torts and demanding billions of dollars, have been filed against all four of the contractors that supervised the clean–up from the terrorist attacks on September 11th. The bill introduced today seeks to insulate government contractors from the tort liability that might otherwise arise from their work for the disaster relief agencies. In the process, the bill also blocks court actions that could stall the recovery from a major disaster. The bill does not, however, insulate any contractor from any enforcement action that any federal, state or local agency may bring. It does not limit any public agency’s authority to take whatever steps it may deem necessary to ensure full compliance with its rules or regulations, or to punish noncompliance. All environmental, safety and health, labor and ethics laws would continue to apply. In addition, the bill would leave contractors fully liable for any personal injury or property damage that resulted from any recklessness or willful misconduct. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the largest and oldest national construction trade association in the United States. AGC represents more than 32,000 firms, including 7,000 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 11,000 specialty-contracting firms. More than 13,000 service providers and suppliers are associated with AGC through a nationwide network of chapters. Visit the AGC Web site at

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