Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/10/2017 01:30 PM JUDICIARY
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HB 104-REPEAL COLLECTION OF CIVIL LITIG. INFO 2:08:10 PM CHAIR COGHILL announced the consideration of HB 104. 2:08:52 PM LIZZIE KUBITZ, Staff, Representative Matt Claman, Alaska State Legislature, introduced HB 104 on behalf of the sponsor, speaking to the following prepared statement: House Bill 104 eliminates the automatic reporting information about civil case settlements currently required by law. The bill follows the advice of the Alaska Judicial Council, which has recommended that the legislature eliminate this requirement. To give some historical context: In 1997, responding to public interest in tort reform and the work of the Governor's Advisory Task Force on Civil Justice, the legislature passed tort reform legislation. One part of the legislation responded to the Task Force's recommendation that the Alaska Judicial Council report on closed civil cases, using data from forms completed by attorneys and parties in the cases. Since then, pursuant to statute, the Judicial Council has collected data provided by attorneys and litigants and has produced three reports. However, much more often than not, attorneys and litigants have failed to comply with the reporting requirement. In its most recent report from November 2011, included in your bill packets, the Alaska Judicial Council reports that from January 2001 through December 2010, 88,873 cases were resolved in the Alaska Court system that were subject to the reporting requirement. Because each case had at least two parties, the Council should have received 177,746 or more reports. However, the Council only received 23,257 reports. This represents 13 percent of the Council's conservative estimate of the number of reports it should have received. The low rate of reporting is the reason the Council has not issued a report since 2011. An analysis based on 13 percent of potentially available data would not be reliable. Eliminating the requirement has also received support from attorneys and civil litigants, as the reporting requirement is onerous for those who follow it and unenforceable for those who don't. The Alaska Judicial Council lacks the authority and resources to enforce this outdated requirement and the Council renews its recommendation that the legislature eliminate it. MS. KUBITZ offered to provide a sectional analysis, and noted that Suzanne DiPietro from The Alaska Judicial Council was available to answer questions. CHAIR COGHILL asked for an explanation of "outdated" in this context. MS. KUBITZ offered her understanding that the Judicial Council's efforts to encourage reporting achieved limited success. She deferred further explanation to Ms. DiPietro. CHAIR COGHILL asked Ms. DiPietro to answer the first question and whether there is value in maintaining the requirement. 2:12:58 PM SUZANNE DIPIETRO, Executive Director, Alaska Judicial Council, Anchorage, Alaska, opined that the information on closed civil cases is no longer of great value to the legislature. The purpose for collecting the information was to inform the legislature about the effect of tort reform and those effects are well established. The Judicial Council does not receive requests about the data it collects and its efforts to encourage reporting initially were resource intensive and never achieved anything close to 100 percent. CHAIR COGHILL voiced support for the bill. He asked Ms. Kubitz to go through the sectional analysis. 2:15:11 PM MS. KUBITZ provided the following sectional analysis for HB 104: Section 1. Repeals Rule 41(a)(3), Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules 511 (c) and (e), Alaska Rules of Appellate Procedure. Section 2. Repeals AS 09.68.130, relating to collection of settlement information by the Alaska Judicial Council. Section 3. Provides that the Act will only take effect if sec. 1 of the Act receives the two-thirds majority vote required by the Constitution of the State of Alaska for a court rule change. Section 4. Provides that the Act will take effect immediately if it receives the two-thirds majority vote under sec. 3 of the Act. MS. KUBITZ said copies of the referenced Court Rules and Statute are included in the bill packets. 2:16:19 PM SENATOR MEYER asked why the bill didn't pass in previous years. CHAIR COGHILL opined that it was a matter of timing and perhaps personality. SENATOR COSTELLO asked what will happen to the reports that the Judicial Council has received. MS. DIPIETRO explained that once the data is transferred to the database the paper documents are disposed of correctly considering that they are confidential documents. Should the bill pass, any documents that have not been entered into the database would be destroyed. The information already entered will remain in the database. 2:18:13 PM CHAIR COGHILL held HB 104 in committee for further consideration with public testimony open.