The New “Pick-Your-Own” Statutes: Delineating Limited Immunity From Tort Liability

Over the past several years, state legislatures have been asked to provide immunity from liability for members of certain interest groups including providers of horses, risky sport activities, and “pick-your-own” produce. This Article reports on statutory provisions providing tort immunity for producers who allow the public to come onto their property to harvest crops. Provisions allowing profit-making businesses to qualify for tort immunity are not new, but the expansion to cover pick-your-own operators signifies a significant policy change regarding personal liability. The pick-your-own provisions may indicate a policy shift imposing greater responsibility for persons engaging in activities to use care in avoiding injuries and less responsibility for qualifying service providers. As legislatures contemplate new immunity provisions, Professor Centner advises that these new provisions should be harmonized with existing standards and liability exceptions. When compared to the sport activity statutes, he concludes that the new pick-your-own statutes fail to provide sufficient protection for pick-your-own operations.