SALEM, OR—Lending a helping hand to people with hearing and vision problems has been a Lions Club International mission for decades. One way members of the service organization have done this is by collecting and donating used hearing aids and eyeglasses to people in need. However, in recent years, liability concerns have sometimes stood in their way.
The Lions have had no problem collecting these medical devices in the U.S. and providing them to people outside the country. However, they were stopped short back in 2005 when they hoped to replace hearing aids for Gulf Coast residents who had lost theirs in the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The risk of litigation was deemed too great to take a chance.
Now, though, the situation has been rectified in at least a few states. Last week, the Oregon State Legislature passed a measure giving specified charitable organizations, including the Lions Club, immunity from liability when they distribute used eyeglasses or hearing aids to Oregonians. Earlier, Alaska and Arizona enacted similar legislation.