Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/01/1995 01:12 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                              
                         March 1, 1995                                         
                           1:12 p.m.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Brian Porter, Chairman                                         
 Representative Joe Green, Vice Chairman                                       
 Representative Con Bunde                                                      
 Representative Bettye Davis                                                   
 Representative Al Vezey                                                       
 Representative Cynthia Toohey                                                 
 Representative David Finkelstein                                              
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 All members present                                                           
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 HB 158:  "An Act relating to civil actions; amending Alaska Rules             
          of Civil Procedure 49, 68, and 95; amending Alaska Rule of           
          Evidence 702; and providing for an effective date."                  
          HEARD AND HELD                                                       
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 LAUREE HUGONIN, Executive Director                                            
 Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA)               
 130 Seward Street, Room 501                                                   
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 586-3650                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of Alison Lauber                      
 CHUCK ACHBERGER, Director                                                     
 Juneau Chamber of Commerce                                                    
 124 West 5th Street                                                           
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 586-6420                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 EARL WILLIAMS                                                                 
 P.O. Box 287                                                                  
 Kasilof, AK 99610                                                             
 Telephone:  (907) 586-6420                                                    
 (907)  262-1210                                                               
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 ROBERT COWAN, Exxon Plaintiff                                                 
 P.O. Box 1681                                                                 
 Kenai, AK 99611                                                               
 Telephone:  (907) 283-7187                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 MEGAN RUSH                                                                    
 6631 Weiner                                                                   
 Anchorage, AK 99502                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 248-2822                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 ROBERT CUNNINGHAM                                                             
 1920 West 32, No. 3                                                           
 Anchorage, AK 99577                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 277-4476                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 RICHARD CATTANACH, President                                                  
 Union Company                                                                 
 Alaskans for Liability Reform                                                 
 8101 Old Seward                                                               
 Anchorage, AK 99518                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 349-4568                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 PHIL HENDINBURGER, General Counsel                                            
 NORCAL Insurance Company                                                      
 Telephone:  (415) 957-5616                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 ERNESTA BALLARD                                                               
 705 Main Street                                                               
 Ketchikan, AK 99901                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 247-0846                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 DAVID JOHNSON, Pediatrician                                                   
 Alaska State Medical Association                                              
 3612 Tongass Avenue                                                           
 Ketchikan, AK  99901                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 225-5144                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 LINDA HALL, Past President                                                    
 Insurance Agents Association                                                  
 3111 C Street, No. 300                                                        
 Anchorage, AK  99503                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 561-1250                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 CONSTANCE ROSEBROCK                                                           
 1922 Commodore Drive                                                          
 Anchorage, AK  99507                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 344-7804                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 JIM FORBES, Assistant Attorney General                                        
 Fair Business Practices Section                                               
 Department of Law                                                             
 1031 West 4th Avenue, No. 200                                                 
 Anchorage, AK 99501                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 269-5222                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided information on HB 158                           
 DOCTOR DON LEHMANN, President                                                 
 Alaska State Medical Association                                              
 700 Katlian Street                                                            
 Sitka, AK 99835                                                               
 Telephone:  (907) 747-5861                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 TROY REINHART, Employee Relations and Public Affairs Manager                  
 Ketchikan Pulp Company                                                        
 P.O. Box 6600                                                                 
 Ketchikan, AK 99901                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 225-2151                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in favor of HB 158                            
 KIRSTEN TINGLUM, Attorney                                                     
 Alaska Association of Trial Lawyers                                           
 1130 West 6th Avenue                                                          
 Anchorage, AK 99501                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 276-4331                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 BRAD THOMPSON, Director                                                       
 Division of Risk Management                                                   
 Department of Administration                                                  
 P.O. Box 110218                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0218                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-5723                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 BRUCE HEATH                                                                   
 P.O. Box 1117                                                                 
 SEWARD, AK 99664                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 224-5656                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 CHRISTY TENGS-FOWLER                                                          
 P.O. Box 190                                                                  
 Haines, AK 99827                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 766-2474                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 RUSS WINNER, Trial Attorney                                                   
 900 West 5th Avenue, No. 700                                                  
 Anchorage, AK 99501                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 277-9522                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 MAURI LONG, Attorney                                                          
 510 L Street, Suite 603                                                       
 Anchorage, AK 99501                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 277-5400                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 MIKE SCHNEIDER                                                                
 880 N Street, No. 202                                                         
 Anchorage, AK 99501                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 277-9306                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 LYNN RODDA, Risk Manager                                                      
 Providence Hospital                                                           
 3200 Providence Drive                                                         
 Anchorage, AK 99519                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 261-3078                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 158                             
 LES GARA                                                                      
 1242 West 10th                                                                
 Anchorage, AK 99501                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 276-7807                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 PATTI RIZER                                                                   
 5530 Rabbit Creek Drive                                                       
 Anchorage, AK 99516                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 345-1743                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 TOM DOOLEY                                                                    
 733 West 4th, Suite 200                                                       
 Anchorage, AK 99501                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 279-7327                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 LLOYD MILLER, Attorney                                                        
 900 West 5th Avenue, No. 700                                                  
 Anchorage, AK 99501                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 277-9522                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 CHARLES COE, Attorney                                                         
 2740 Scarborough Drive                                                        
 Anchorage, AK 99504                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 276-6173                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed HB 158                                           
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  HB 158                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: CIVIL LIABILITY                                                  
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) PORTER, Toohey                                  
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG                  ACTION                                   
 02/06/95       253    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 02/06/95       253    (H)   JUDICIARY, FINANCE                                
 02/17/95              (H)   JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120                       
 02/20/95              (H)   JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120                       
 02/20/95              (H)   MINUTE(JUD)                                       
 02/27/95              (H)   JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120                       
 02/27/95              (H)   MINUTE(JUD)                                       
 03/01/95              (H)   JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120                       
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 95-19, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 The House Judiciary Standing Committee was called to order at 1:12            
 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 1995.  All members were present.                  
 CHAIRMAN BRIAN PORTER stated that there would be a confirmation               
 hearing for Alison Lauber, followed by public testimony on HB 158.            
 The meeting was teleconferenced to Anchorage, Kenai, Ketchikan,               
 Seward, and Sitka.                                                            
 Number 040                                                                    
 LAUREE HUGONIN, Executive Director, Alaska Network on Domestic                
 Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA), testified in favor of                   
 confirming Alison Lauber to the Alaska Violent Crimes Compensation            
 Board.  She said Ms. Lauber is intimately familiar with sexual                
 assault, rape exams, and working with victims.  That is a very                
 important part of the Violent Crimes Compensation Board's work.               
 Last year they had 60 victims of sexual assault apply to them for             
 restitution, 43 of which were children.  They believe it is                   
 critical to have someone with expertise in these areas sitting on             
 the Board and they were very happy to recommend Alison Lauber for             
 the position.                                                                 
 Number 070                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE CYNTHIA TOOHEY made a motion to pass the                       
 recommendation out of the committee to the floor of the House.                
 Seeing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       
 HJUD - 03/01/95                                                               
 HB 158 - CIVIL LIABILITY                                                    
 Number 120                                                                    
 CHUCK ACHBERGER, Director, Juneau Chamber of Commerce, said they              
 support this bill which would help them keep their costs in line.             
 A lot of people do not realize that when you hear about large                 
 settlements, it actually impacts their bottom line for business               
 quite hard.  He also supported the bill for personal reasons.  He             
 is part of an environmental assessment company, and it is expensive           
 to obtain insurance.                                                          
 Number 145                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN BRIAN PORTER asked people wishing to testify to limit                
 their testimony to a maximum of three minutes.                                
 EARL WILLIAMS testified via teleconference.  He was concerned about           
 the eight year statute of repose and putting a cap on non-economic            
 damages and on punitive damages.  He described how his injury, as             
 a worker on the Swanson River Oil Field four years ago, caused him            
 continuing victimization by insurance companies.  His insurance               
 adjuster refused to pay him compensation for his work related                 
 disability.  He did get the Veteran's Administration to pay his               
 medical costs.  Through this damaging ordeal, he used all of his              
 savings to survive.                                                           
 Number 247                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER explained to Mr. Williams that HB 158 would                   
 probably not be applicable to his situation, because an on the job            
 injury would fall under the workers' compensation statutes.                   
 Further testimony will confirm if this is correct.                            
 Number 260                                                                    
 ROBERT COWAN spoke via teleconference on behalf of the Plaintiffs'            
 Executive Committee of the Exxon oil spill case.  He noted this               
 committee was appointed by Judge Holland.  He was concerned that              
 this legislation would leave big companies like Exxon with little             
 fear of consequences for their actions.  These provisions would               
 allow Exxon to say it was not their fault, but that it was the                
 captain who was responsible.  He said they had spoken with many               
 members of the United Fishermen's Association (UFA) who had                   
 expressed the same concerns.                                                  
 Number 300                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN asked Mr. Cowan when the jury is             
 considering the size of an award, if the size of the company's or             
 individual's assets is one of the things considered.  If so, in               
 that context, what portion of Exxon's net worth did the punitive              
 damages amount to?                                                            
 MR. COWAN answered yes, the jury is allowed to consider the                   
 company's assets in determining the award.  He thought Exxon's                
 assets were somewhere between $90 million and $100 million dollars,           
 in 1989.  He did know the yearly profits were about 5 million,                
 which is what the jury assessed.  This equaled about one year's               
 worth of profits.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN thanked Mr. Cowan, but thought perhaps,            
 he meant billions of dollars.                                                 
 CHAIRMAN PORTER mentioned that case took place in federal court and           
 this bill would only effect Alaska's state courts.                            
 MEGAN RUSH, who testified via teleconference, objected to Section             
 6, which puts a cap on non-economic damages.  She had suffered a              
 serious head injury in 1984, and had previously been a commercial             
 pilot.  The cap was too limiting, and would not cover future                  
 medical costs.  She is not able to obtain medical insurance from a            
 vendor.  She felt the $500,000 cap should be deleted, or else                 
 substantially increased for victims of catastrophic injuries.                 
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Ms. Rush to consider the fact that future               
 medical costs fall under the category of economic damages, and                
 there is no cap on economic damages under this bill.                          
 Number 435                                                                    
 ROBERT CUNNINGHAM testified via teleconference.  He has suffered a            
 work injury in his ear, which could possibly eliminate him from the           
 capability of continuing in his profession as an air traffic                  
 controller.  The federal code cuts off all of his benefits, so he,            
 among other people, are almost required to sue in order to receive            
 some sort of compensation.  He was opposed to the cap on damages.             
 Number 490                                                                    
 RICHARD CATTANACH, Vice President, Union Company, testified via               
 teleconference, on behalf of Alaskans for Liability Reform.  He               
 felt the civil justice system to be inefficient and in need of                
 adjustments.  This bill will help achieve the goal.  They believe             
 in giving more of the award to the injured party, and less money to           
 the attorney.  The rural areas of Alaska are suffering from lack of           
 adequate medical provisions, due to the high cost of medical                  
 malpractice insurance.  This deters doctors from wanting to work in           
 these areas.                                                                  
 Number 610                                                                    
 PHIL HENDINBURGER, General Counsel, representing NORCAL Insurance             
 Company, testified via teleconference.  They have insured half of             
 this country's physicians for the past several years.  He felt tort           
 reform would generate a real savings for the people.  Specifically,           
 the state of California's tort reform has had a dramatic impact on            
 the cost of malpractice premiums for physicians and hospitals.                
 Insurance has become more affordable, as compared to other states             
 who have not enacted similar reform.  Over the 17 years that the              
 California tort reform package has been in effect, they have                  
 allowed the costs to increase only 83 percent, while the U.S.                 
 costs, excluding California, have increased by 413 percent.  Alaska           
 experience shows that premiums have increased by 1620 percent over            
 the same 17 year period.  That is an increase of 26 percent per               
 year, which is twice the national average (11 percent).  In                   
 California, an Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN), will pay $30,000           
 a year for medical malpractice insurance.  A comparable OB/GYN in             
 Alaska will pay $65,000 per year for the same insurance.  They were           
 in support of this tort reform legislation.                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Mr. Hendinburger if he thought the insurance            
 rates in Alaska would decrease if this bill passed.                           
 MR. HENDINBURGER felt that they would.                                        
 Number 745                                                                    
 ERNESTA BALLARD, President, Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce,                    
 testified via teleconference as a private citizen.  She also faxed            
 in her testimony which reads:                                                 
 "I have been an advocate of tort reform for many years.  The                  
 provisions of HB 158 are well thought through, and reasonable.  The           
 bill structures injury claims fairly.  Injured parties are                    
 protected from financial ruin and will still have access to just              
 compensation for economic damages and medical expenses.  Defendants           
 will be held accountable for their share of obligation to injured             
 "Beyond this basic equity in compensation and accountability, HB              
 158 takes big and important steps towards reducing the opportunism            
 and greed which sadly characterize much personal injury litigation.           
 It bars damage suits by people who received their injuries in the             
 course of committing a felony; it allows juries to know if a                  
 defendant has already collected an award for the same injury; it              
 limits the use of punitive damages to cases which are proven to be            
 deliberately malicious; it allows for a payment schedule, including           
 interest for large awards.  These are common sense provisions.  HB            
 158 also provides for monetary sanctions against attorneys for                
 filing frivolous pleadings.  This is not only common sense, it is             
 long overdue.                                                                 
 "As citizens of a free country, we protect our rights aggressively.           
 I believe the time has come for us also to accept the                         
 responsibility that accompanies citizenship.  HB 158 is a small               
 step toward putting those rights in the greater context of the                
 greater good.  Reasonable control over the cost of damages will               
 reduce the cost of insurance and the cost of doing business, and              
 increase access to the free enterprise system for all."                       
 Number 775                                                                    
 DAVID JOHNSON, Pediatrician, speaking for the Alaska State Medical            
 Association, testified via teleconference.  He said a concern among           
 pediatricians is the issue of the ongoing statute of limitations.             
 Something he does today, and may not come to litigation until two             
 years following discovery, could crop up 20 years from now.  When             
 this situation comes up after you are gone, or after your insurance           
 is gone, this creates problems.  This bill would take the potential           
 lottery out of the system, and provide some type of predictability.           
 The element of unpredictability is what allows all of us to be                
 victimized by insurance premiums.                                             
 LINDA HALL, Past President of Insurance Agents Association,                   
 testified via teleconference.  She felt there ought to be clear and           
 convincing evidence of malicious intent in order to award                     
 compensation.  The intent of punitive damage is to deter future               
 negative behavior.  Part of this award money should go to the state           
 and not to the plaintiff.  She urged support of the bill.                     
 TAPE 95-19, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 CONSTANCE ROSEBROCK testified via teleconference regarding punitive           
 damages.  She was a victim of sexual assault at work.  Since her              
 employer would not do anything about it, she was forced to take the           
 defendant to court.  Punitive damage awards are meant to deter                
 wrongful actions.                                                             
 Number 080                                                                    
 JIM FORBES, Assistant Attorney General, Fair Business Practices               
 Section, Department of Law, testified via teleconference, speaking            
 on behalf of the Administration.  Overall, the Governor recognizes            
 that there are ways the current system could be improved; however,            
 he does not want to change the system to one that would deny                  
 ordinary citizens access to the system.                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY asked for an example.                                   
 MR. FORBES replied that contingency fee arrangements are the only             
 way middle class citizens can access the current tort system.  For            
 example, in a case involving complex causes of injury, the lack of            
 ability to pay an expert witness could play into the amount of the            
 Number 230                                                                    
 DOCTOR DON LEHMANN, President of the Alaska State Medical                     
 Association, via teleconference, described the current tort system            
 as being a lottery, with awards based on chance and emotion, rather           
 than on true injury and reason.  All too often, injured parties               
 will claim victim status, seeking recompense beyond reason.  The              
 current system is broken, and he is strongly in support of HB 158.            
 As a physician, from a liability standpoint alone, this is a good             
 bill.  The single most important measure this bill would provide is           
 the cap on non-economic losses.                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN asked Dr. Lehmann if he felt the lowering            
 of insurance premium rates would trickle down to a savings for the            
 doctors' patients.                                                            
 DR. LEHMANN felt those cost savings would be passed on to the                 
 Number 415                                                                    
 TROY REINHART, Employee Relations and Public Affairs Manager,                 
 Ketchikan Pulp Company, spoke in favor of the bill.  The limit on             
 non-economic damages is important.  Also, establishing guidelines             
 for the use of expert witnesses is important.  The monetary                   
 sanctions in the bill against attorneys in civil cases who file               
 frivolous lawsuits is very important.  The last resort for their              
 company is to go to court, and it should be that way for any good             
 business; but all too often they find they are being dragged into             
 court cases which are frivolous.  These cases are a waste of the              
 court's time, the company's time, and the government's time, as               
 well as to the individuals involved.                                          
 Number 445                                                                    
 KIRSTEN TINGLUM, Attorney, Alaska Association of Trial Lawyers,               
 wanted the committee to reconsider economic caps.  She gave the               
 example of a child whose mother is killed in a car accident.  If              
 the mother did not work, the future monetary loss of that mother is           
 zero.  If the child's mother was an attorney, the child will get              
 big bucks.  That is not fair.  All the poor child is left with is             
 pain and suffering.  She worried that some aspects of this bill               
 would block ordinary people from utilizing the system.                        
 Number 560                                                                    
 BRAD THOMPSON, Director, Division of Risk Management, Department of           
 Administration, testified in favor of HB 158.  He explained that              
 Risk Management acts as the state's self insurance or liability               
 insurer, protecting all state agencies, managing problems arising             
 from their activities and operations.  Overall, HB 158 will reduce            
 amounts paid currently by the state in settling, or in judgments              
 arising from tort actions filed against the state; and will also              
 reduce future costs incurred in the defense of the actions filed              
 against the state.  The fiscal note is zero.  In years to come,               
 future administrative costs of the program would actually decrease.           
 Number 640                                                                    
 BRUCE HEATH expressed his disappointment, via teleconference, with            
 a situation he has been involved in.  After an injury, his lack of            
 finances and location of residence make it difficult for him to               
 receive adequate medical care.  He has been refused education to              
 train for a different vocation.  His insurance adjuster has lied to           
 him and refused to pay his medical costs, telling Workers'                    
 Compensation something different than what they are telling him.              
 They told him to go to the Veteran's Administration (VA).                     
 Number 690                                                                    
 CHRISTY TENGS-FOWLER testified via teleconference.  She is a small            
 business owner with a bar and restaurant which has been in her                
 family for 43 years.  They are losing their incentive to be in                
 business because of an incident where someone used fake                       
 identification to buy alcohol from their liquor store.  A few hours           
 later, he totalled his pick-up and died in a crash.  It did not               
 matter that he had been carded by eight different employees, nor              
 that he had been carded that night, nor that he had been drinking             
 alcohol in the presence of his parent in her establishment and in             
 other establishments.  The family turned around and sued them.                
 They spent two years going through a horrible lawsuit, and                    
 everything they had saved for her father's retirement was spent on            
 attorney fees and settlement costs.  They have since been sued by             
 another family for the same reason, but the judge ruled in her                
 favor.  The point is they live in fear of being sued just by being            
 in this business.  It took an emotional toll on the whole town.               
 She would like to see this bill passed.                                       
 Number 740                                                                    
 RUSS WINNER, Trial Attorney, testified via teleconference against             
 the bill.  He disagreed with the statute of repose.  He felt this             
 provision to be unfair, unconstitutional, and discriminatory.  The            
 non-economic provision is fundamentally anti-Native, because if               
 someone is injured who lives in a city, he has economic damages and           
 can be compensated for them.  If someone lives in a village with a            
 subsistence lifestyle, he does not have economic damages, and                 
 cannot recover costs; he can only recover non-economic damages,               
 which would have a cap.                                                       
 Number 830                                                                    
 MAURI LONG, Attorney, testified via teleconference.  She felt this            
 bill would harm a lot of regular people, and did not feel most                
 people would want to give up some of these provisions.  It provides           
 different standards of expert witnesses for medical experts than              
 for those in other fields.  She felt the bill was not very well               
 thought out.                                                                  
 TAPE 95-20, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 MS. LONG continued to say that Section 22 is an unnecessary                   
 provision and is trying to solve something that is not a problem in           
 the first place.                                                              
 Number 045                                                                    
 MIKE SCHNEIDER testified via teleconference.  He expressed concerns           
 about the examples given of ordinary people being harmed by this              
 legislation.  He felt the agenda of the bill was to truly                     
 disenfranchise injured people.  He was also concerned that the                
 legislature was trying to decide what fairness was.  That should be           
 left up to the jury.                                                          
 Number 125                                                                    
 LYNN RODDA, Risk Manager, Providence Hospital, testified via                  
 teleconference, describing a recent litigation involving the                  
 hospital.  There was a costly case that should not have even gone             
 to trial.  They were able to settle prior to trial, after several             
 attempts.  Their liability insurance premium for 1994, was over               
 Number 150                                                                    
 LES GARA testified via teleconference.  He disagreed that a fiscal            
 note could be zero on this.  The statute of repose would spell                
 disaster for the state.  He expressed concerns about situations               
 like contaminated drinking water that is not discovered within a              
 short period of time, because of the date of sale of the property.            
 Another situation would be where a fire was caused by faulty                  
 wiring.  He felt the person installing the wiring should be held              
 liable, even after the statute of repose.                                     
 Number 400                                                                    
 PATTY RIZER testified via teleconference.  She disagreed with the             
 cap on non-economic damages, feeling that would encourage more                
 wrong doing.  Her 11 year old son, Bart, was killed at Alyeska Ski            
 Resort while skiing.  For her personal tragedy, this cap would not            
 cover economic damages for costs associated with this accident.               
 Most people do not have enough money to pay an attorney by the                
 hour.  This bill will not promote safety.                                     
 Number 510                                                                    
 TOM DOOLEY spoke, via teleconference, against the punitive damage             
 section.  If the Supreme Court is going to say they can only find             
 punitive damages against companies who have malice or conscious               
 disregard for another person, he had no objection to that.  He                
 represents people up against corrupt unions, and against mafia                
 controlled businesses.  Why on earth would you want to protect                
 these kinds of criminals?  You have already determined there is               
 malice and conscious disregard for their acts; why would you not              
 want to bankrupt them and pull them out of their business?  He did            
 not understand why we would want to protect that class of people.             
 Number 590                                                                    
 LLOYD MILLER, Attorney, testified via teleconference.  He was                 
 appointed to represent victims of the oil spill.  He opposed the              
 bill and felt that Section 7 is too restrictive.  You have to                 
 remember that when punitive damages are set, the plaintiff's                  
 economic damages have already been determined separately.  Punitive           
 damages are not designed to compensate the plaintiff, and have to             
 do with the outrageous conduct of the defendant.                              
 Number 650                                                                    
 CHARLES COE, Attorney, testified via teleconference.  He felt that            
 setting this non-economic portion of the bill would be inconsistent           
 with what Northwest Jury Verdicts are doing in other areas of the             
 state of Alaska.  Anyone who is realistic about the system will               
 realize that in an auto accident, juries tend to award minimal if             
 anything for non-economic damages.  He felt that putting a cap on             
 non-economic damages would be out of line, unrealistic and                    
 unreasonable.  He did not feel the statute of repose would be a               
 CHAIRMAN PORTER announced the end of the public testimony for HB              
 Number 700                                                                    
 The House Judiciary Committee adjourned at 3:30 p.m.                          

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