Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/01/1994 03:00 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
                    HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE                                   
                       STANDING COMMITTEE                                      
                        February 1, 1994                                       
                            3:00 p.m.                                          
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
  Rep. Bill Hudson, Chairman                                                   
  Rep. Joe Green, Vice Chair                                                   
  Rep. Brian Porter                                                            
  Rep. Eldon Mulder                                                            
  Rep. Joe Sitton                                                              
  Rep. Jerry Mackie                                                            
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
  Rep. Bill Williams                                                           
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
  HB 292:   "An Act relating to civil actions; amending Alaska                 
            Rules of Civil Procedure 49 and 68; and providing                  
            for an effective date."                                            
                                                                               
            HEARD AND HELD IN COMMITTEE                                        
                                                                               
  *HB 325:  "An Act relating to  motorcycle safety and to use                  
            of helmets by operators of motorcycles."                           
                                                                               
            NOT HEARD                                                          
                                                                               
  (* First public hearing.)                                                    
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
  MICHAEL SCHNEIDER                                                            
  880 N St., #202                                                              
  Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                     
  277-9306                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  ROGER HOLMES                                                                 
  Biss and Holmes Law Firm                                                     
  705 Christensen Dr.                                                          
  Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                     
  Phone:  277-8564                                                             
  Position Statement:  Supported HB 292                                        
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  MIKE FORD, Attorney                                                          
  Division of Legal Services                                                   
  Legislative Affairs Agency                                                   
  130 Seward St., Room 404                                                     
  Juneau, Alaska  99801-2105                                                   
  Phone:  465-2450                                                             
  Position Statement:  Commented on HB 292                                     
                                                                               
  KATJA KIRSH                                                                  
  Alaska Environmental Lobby                                                   
  P.O. Box 22151                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska  99802                                                        
  463-3366                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                                                                               
  SAM SKAGGS                                                                   
  Skaggs and Ingalls, Inc.                                                     
  709 Gold St.                                                                 
  Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                        
  463-4843                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Supported HB 292                                        
                                                                               
  REGINA McCLELAND                                                             
  Chugiak Senior Center                                                        
  222 - 424 N. Brickwood                                                       
  Chugiak, Alaska  99867                                                       
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  DARYL NELSON                                                                 
  Chugiak Senior Center                                                        
  222 - 424 N. Brickwood                                                       
  Chugiak, Alaska  99867                                                       
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  BONNIE NELSON                                                                
  Chugiak Senior Center                                                        
  222 - 424 N. Brickwood                                                       
  Chugiak, Alaska  99867                                                       
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  RUTH CALLAN                                                                  
  Chugiak Senior Center                                                        
  222 - 424 N. Brickwood                                                       
  Chugiak, Alaska  99867                                                       
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  SHERRIE GOLL                                                                 
  Alaska Women's Lobby                                                         
  P.O. Box 22156                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                        
  463-6744                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                                                                               
  GLENDA STRAUBE                                                               
  1318 N St.                                                                   
  Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                     
  278-0840                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  DICK CATTANAGH                                                               
  1318 N St.                                                                   
  Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                     
  379-9568                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Supported HB 292                                        
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  GRANT CALLOW                                                                 
  425 G St., Suite 610                                                         
  Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                     
  276-1221                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  TIM DOOLEY                                                                   
  733 West 4th Ave.                                                            
  Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                     
  279-7327                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  JOHN SUDDOCK                                                                 
  604 W. 2nd Ave.                                                              
  Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                     
  274-0594                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  RUSS WINNER                                                                  
  900 W. 5th Ave., #700                                                        
  Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  ERIC SANDERS                                                                 
  500 L St., #400                                                              
  Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                     
  272-3538                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
  CHARLES McKEE                                                                
  1508 W. 43rd. #7                                                             
  Anchorage, Alaska  99504                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 292                                          
                       (Spoke via teleconference)                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 292                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: CIVIL LIABILITY                                                 
  SPONSOR(S): LABOR & COMMERCE                                                 
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  04/23/93      1459    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  04/23/93      1459    (H)   L&C, JUDICIARY, FINANCE                          
  09/10/93              (H)   L&C AT 09:00 AM CAPITOL 17                       
  01/27/94              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                       
  01/27/94              (H)   MINUTE(L&C)                                      
  02/01/94              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                       
                                                                               
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 325                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: MOTORCYCLE SAFETY                                               
  SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) BRICE                                          
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  01/03/94      2012    (H)   PREFILE RELEASED                                 
  01/10/94      2012    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  01/10/94      2012    (H)   LABOR & COMMERCE, STATE AFFAIRS                  
  02/01/94              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                       
                                                                               
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-5, SIDE A                                                            
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON convened the meeting at 3:17 p.m. and                        
  explained the procedure to be used at this committee                         
  meeting.                                                                     
  CSHB 292(L&C) - "An Act relating to civil actions; amending                  
  Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure 11, 49, 68, 82, and 95; and                  
  providing for an effective date."                                            
                                                                               
  Number 230                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER moved the adoption of the CS for HB 292(L&C) and                 
  brought it before the committee for their consideration.                     
                                                                               
  No objections were heard, it was so ordered.                                 
                                                                               
  Number 240                                                                   
                                                                               
  MIKE SCHNEIDER, Attorney, testified via teleconference from                  
  Anchorage.  Mr. Schneider stated he opposed Section 3, the                   
  statute of repose, because this section limits a victim's                    
  rights by stating that an action may not be brought more                     
  than six years past the first use of any product in the                      
  manner intended, or substantial completion or six years past                 
  the last act upon which a liability claim for injury or                      
  death may be based.  He added that Section 3 is a radical                    
  change and basically places Alaskans in the position of                      
  being second class citizens compared to most of the rest of                  
  the United States.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 365                                                                   
                                                                               
  ROGER HOLMES, Attorney, Biss and Holmes Law Firm, responded                  
  that if someone or some business intentionally commits some                  
  wrongful deed, then the six year statute of repose would not                 
  apply.  Mr. Holmes stated that the current unlimited product                 
  liability statute limits the manufacture of new goods in                     
  this state.                                                                  
                                                                               
  MR. HOLMES said that Mr. Schneider made some very valid                      
  points; life is a trade off and basically it is a political                  
  decision.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 435                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE expressed concern over this section of the bill.                 
  He stated he has thought this particular problem had been                    
  taken care of and now he hears testimony on both sides of                    
  the issue.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 441                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER stated that adjustments were made in this                        
  section as a result of testimony taken.  The adjustment                      
  changed the language from "date of manufacture" to the date                  
  the product was first used.                                                  
                                                                               
  REP. MULDER stated that the statute of repose is an                          
  arbitrary one.  It all comes down to a policy question, or                   
  should we or shouldn't we have a statute of limitation.                      
                                                                               
  Number 539                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER raised and answered the question of why we have                  
  a statute of repose.  He stated that it helps create a                       
  healthy and fair climate in Alaska for business.  Rep.                       
  Porter asserted that the cost of doing business is guided by                 
  the cost of insurance and that "life's a risk" and a                         
  "balancing act."                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 581                                                                   
                                                                               
  MIKE FORD, Attorney, Division of Legal Services, Legislative                 
  Affairs Agency, reiterated that in the case of an                            
  intentional act that causes damages, the clock does not                      
  stop.  In the case of negligence, the clock stops after six                  
  years.                                                                       
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-5, SIDE B                                                            
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON offered Amendment 13 to CSHB 292, j version:                 
  on page 4, line 10, after "intentionally" insert "or                         
  resulted from gross negligence, fraud, fraudulent                            
  misrepresentation, or breach of an express warranty or                       
  guarantee."                                                                  
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked for the committee's response to this                   
  proposed language.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 015                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. SITTON voiced his support for Amendment 13.                             
                                                                               
  Number 020                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MULDER asked Mr. Ford to define the difference between                  
  gross negligence and intentional activity.                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD stated he thinks everyone knows what intentional                    
  means and the difference between that and gross negligence                   
  is a matter of degree.                                                       
                                                                               
  MR. FORD gave the example of simply not inserting a part in                  
  a product which ends up causing damage to being grossly                      
  negligent by acting outrageously.                                            
                                                                               
  Number 040                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked Mr. Ford if there had to be intent                     
  behind fraud as appears in Amendment 13.                                     
                                                                               
  MR. FORD replied there is usually an intentional element to                  
  fraud.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 050                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE asked if the committee knew if airliners had                     
  warranties.                                                                  
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON viewed an airline ticket as an expressed                     
  warranty that you are going to land at the desired location.                 
                                                                               
  MR. FORD felt that the ticket was only an agreement between                  
  the passenger and the airline that they would perform to the                 
  standards that a reasonable person would in that situation.                  
  He said, for example, if we presume that they do everything                  
  correctly and a defective part causes the plane to crash,                    
  then the language in Amendment 13 may change the results.                    
                                                                               
  MR. FORD commented that the court would probably read into                   
  Amendment 13 the language it currently holds regarding                       
  express warranty or guarantee, but he felt it was important                  
  to leave it in the bill to make the committee's intention                    
  clear.  Mr. Ford added that this language was taken from HB
  160 passed by the House last year regarding architects and                   
  engineers.                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. GREEN moved Amendment 13.  No objections were heard; it                 
  was so ordered.                                                              
                                                                               
  Number 120                                                                   
                                                                               
  KATJA KIRSH, Alaska Environmental Lobby, testified in                        
  opposition to HB 292.  Ms. Kirsh stated that HB 292 in                       
  particular would close the courthouse doors to some                          
  pollution victims.  She said HB 292 would prevent some                       
  victims of pollution from seeking compensation from                          
  polluters before the victims even know about the pollution                   
  or that they have been harmed.  The bill would stop a person                 
  from bringing a lawsuit against a wrongdoer more than six                    
  years after the last act which caused personal injury,                       
  death, or property damage.                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. KIRSH remarked that HB 292 would have a harsh impact on                  
  victims of toxic pollution.  Pollution can move very slowly.                 
  First, it may take years for groundwater or soils to become                  
  contaminated after a release of pollution uphill.  Second,                   
  toxic pollution causes diseases such as cancer, which only                   
  show up years or even decades later.                                         
                                                                               
  MS. KIRSH added some examples to her testimony and provided                  
  the committee with a written copy of her remarks that are on                 
  file with the committee.                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 187                                                                   
                                                                               
  SAM SKAGGS, Skaggs and Ingalls, Inc., testified in support                   
  of HB 292.  Mr. Skaggs related his experience with the                       
  marketing of his product - the stroller pack.  Mr. Skaggs                    
  stated that after introducing the product, a number of big                   
  name companies expressed interest, LL Bean and REI to name                   
  two.  These companies required Skaggs and Ingalls to procure                 
  product liability insurance before they could sell the                       
  stroller pack to them.  It took two years to obtain this                     
  insurance because 1) Skaggs and Ingalls were a start up                      
  company with little track record, and 2) because Alaska is                   
  viewed as having a hostile environment for manufacturing.                    
  Mr. Skaggs related that they finally got a $500,000 face                     
  policy costing $12,000.  Mr. Skaggs explained that in order                  
  to pay $12,000, a company would have to produce and sell an                  
  incredible volume of stroller packs, and no way was that                     
  going to happen.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 230                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SKAGGS summarized that HB 292 should pass as an effort                   
  to stimulate manufacturing in this state.                                    
                                                                               
  Number 228                                                                   
                                                                               
  REGINA McCELLUM, Chugiak Senior Center, testified via                        
  teleconference from Anchorage.  Ms. McCellum stated that                     
  there were two things in HB 292 that concerned her:  1)                      
  seniors that are retired and not currently working do not                    
  have a lost wage claim if injured, and 2) HB 292 allows                      
  professionals to be independent contractors and does not                     
  require them to be insured, thus allowing hospitals a way to                 
  avoid liability.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 250                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER replied that seniors who are not working would                   
  not have a claim for economic compensation for lost wages as                 
  there are none.  But this does not preclude awards for                       
  noneconomic awards and certainly does not preclude awards                    
  for actual expenses.                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 300                                                                   
                                                                               
  DARYL NELSON, Chugiak Senior Center, via teleconference,                     
  expressed the same concerns as Ms. McCellum.                                 
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON replied that those concerns were alleviated                  
  in Section 4.                                                                
                                                                               
  Number 315                                                                   
                                                                               
  BONNIE NELSON, Alaska Public Interest Group, testified in                    
  opposition to HB 292 via teleconference.  She stated that                    
  the current jury system, while not perfect, is great and we                  
  should not be tinkering with people's civil rights.  She                     
  dittoed Ms. McCellum's concerns regarding seniors and                        
  children regarding economic damages.                                         
                                                                               
  Number 350                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON replied that HB 292 does not discriminate                    
  against seniors in his estimation.  He said HB 292 simply                    
  tries to take into account what the future lost earnings                     
  would be if a person was no longer able to work.  If a                       
  senior is injured, there are no lost earnings, and therefore                 
  no award is made under that category.  But that does not                     
  preclude a senior from being awarded money for the other                     
  areas covered in the law.                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 370                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER recounted his theory that the whole idea of tort                 
  law is to make people whole, not rich.                                       
                                                                               
  Number 407                                                                   
                                                                               
  RUTH CALLUM, Chugiak Senior Center, via teleconference,                      
  dittoed the concern that Regina McCellum had said that                       
  seniors were being discriminated against in HB 292 because                   
  they were not receiving a wage when the injury occurred.                     
                                                                               
  Number 425                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER noted that the anecdote Ms. McCellum used was                    
  wrong and again stated that tort law is in place to make                     
  people whole again, not rich.                                                
                                                                               
  Number 450                                                                   
                                                                               
  SHERRIE GOLL, Alaska Women's Lobby, testified in opposition                  
  to HB 292.  Ms. Goll expressed her concern about those                       
  victims who have never seen a conviction in their case;                      
  victims whose perpetrators have never been convicted of a                    
  crime in any of the degrees excepted in the bill.  For                       
  instance, a batterer who has perpetrated a series of                         
  misdemeanor assaults upon a person until that person becomes                 
  severely harmed, even incapacitated.  She noted these                        
  persons are not covered by HB 292.                                           
                                                                               
  Number 020                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER responded that he would be offering an amendment                 
  that the cap on economic damages not be applied to those who                 
  are the victims of an attempt to commit a crime, the                         
  commission of a crime, or fleeing from a Class A or                          
  unclassified felony.  This would expand the bill to                          
  alleviate the problem of a victim not being able to see                      
  redress through the courts because a person charged with a                   
  crime doesn't get convicted due to a technicality.                           
                                                                               
  Number 043                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. GOLL expressed concern regarding the deletion of the                     
  exceptions to the cap of $500,000, the severely impaired and                 
  disfigured people.  Ms. Goll stated that these victims may                   
  have lost their legs, been severely brain damaged, etc., and                 
  $500,000 may not be near enough to cover them.                               
                                                                               
  MS. GOLL suggested that "domestic partner" be used instead                   
  of "spouse" in Section 25 because it discriminates against                   
  unmarried people and those who may have been counting on the                 
  victim's income to help them financially; i.e., aging                        
  parents.  Ms. Goll said she felt a $10,000 cap in any                        
  circumstance was too low currently and would certainly be                    
  too low 15 years from now if this bill passes.                               
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER stated that another way to look at this is that                  
  this provides $10,000 to someone who otherwise wouldn't be                   
  entitled to receive anything.  A nondependent has no claim                   
  for an economic loss from someone's death.  Rep. Porter                      
  added that consequently the person shouldn't receive an                      
  award for an economic loss, and HB 292 gives it to them                      
  anyway.                                                                      
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER commented that HB 292 does not preclude persons                  
  from suing for noneconomic damages.  Rep. Porter again                       
  reiterated that we are trying to make people whole, not                      
  rich.                                                                        
                                                                               
  MS. GOLL stated that she had serious concern regarding the                   
  statute of repose.  Ms. Goll cited the example of a child                    
  taking a prescribed drug at age 9, then at 14 research shows                 
  that it is possible the drug may cause infertility and at                    
  age 22 the child is indeed infertile that person has no                      
  recourse.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 200                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER replied that the statute of limitations is two                   
  years from the time of discovery, not injury, so the                         
  child/adult now 22 would have two years from age 22 to sue.                  
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER added that HB 292 calls for when the victim                      
  should have reasonably known about the problem.                              
                                                                               
  Number 289                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. GOLL suggested that HB 292 should require that insurance                 
  rates go down by 30 percent and accessibility increased or                   
  the law be repealed.                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 310                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. SITTON asked Ms. Goll, given our free market economy,                   
  didn't she feel that the insurance companies will charge                     
  whatever the market will bear?                                               
                                                                               
  MS. GOLL agreed.                                                             
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON pointed out that he felt good about                          
  including the medical practice guidelines in HB 292 as a way                 
  of protecting not only the public but the medical community                  
  themselves.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 335                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE questioned whether there is a net effect of HB
  292 on insurance rates.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 343                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER replied that any kind of provision that would                    
  tie passage of this bill to some stipulation that insurance                  
  rates decrease by X amount is a "bill killer, period."                       
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER asserted that at a previous hearing in Juneau on                 
  HB 292 both John George, an insurance lobbyist, and Dave                     
  Walsh, director of insurance, testified that if HB 292                       
  passes and does not lose the provisions it was based on,                     
  subsequent court challenges, insurance rates will come down.                 
                                                                               
  Number 401                                                                   
                                                                               
  GLENDA STRAUBE testified via teleconference in opposition to                 
  HB 292.  Ms. Straube stated that she was morally and                         
  intellectually opposed to most of HB 292.  Ms. Straube                       
  believes the legislature should be required to prove to the                  
  public in both quantitative and qualitative terms why there                  
  is any need for HB 292.                                                      
                                                                               
  MS. STRAUBE stated that for every study that shows that                      
  insurance rates would go down if HB 292 passes, she could                    
  show one that shows the opposite.                                            
                                                                               
  MS. STRAUBE suggested that HB 292 merely protects persons                    
  and corporations from answering for their negligent acts.                    
  Ms. Straube believes the legislature is asserting itself as                  
  being tough on crime and lax on white collar crime.                          
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON responded that Ms. Straube made some very                    
  good points regarding the reporting mechanism to determine                   
  the effect of HB 292, but he added that this committee was                   
  not in this to "lawyer bash."                                                
                                                                               
  Number 477                                                                   
                                                                               
  DICK CATTANAGH, contractor, testified that in his business                   
  there was no statute of limitation, he could be sued at any                  
  time.  Mr. Cattanagh stated that in regards to insurance                     
  rates going down, he would refer the committee to the State                  
  Division of Insurance who have published information                         
  suggesting that, since the last tort reform, the rates have                  
  come down.  Mr. Cattanagh also pointed to a Harvard study                    
  that indicates a decrease in insurance rates.                                
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE inquired if the insurance industry has indicated                 
  that rates will go down.                                                     
                                                                               
  MR. CATTANAGH replied yes; the insurance companies have                      
  indicated they will weigh in with some figures when the bill                 
  gets closer to the end.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 533                                                                   
                                                                               
  GRANT CALLOW testified from Anchorage against HB 292.  He                    
  stated he is a commissioner on the Commission on Uniform                     
  Laws and, as such, was appointed to serve on the drafting                    
  committee of the model periodic payment of judgments act in                  
  1987.  Based on his work with this committee he has                          
  developed serious concerns regarding the same.  Mr. Callow                   
  added that no states have adopted the model because of the                   
  controversy surrounding it.                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 550                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. CALLOW suggested that at the very least periodic                         
  payments will not make the court system more effective; it                   
  will be just the opposite, it will delay the process.                        
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-6, SIDE B                                                            
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. CALLOW stated he would like to see some evidence or                      
  assurance that insurance rates will indeed go down if HB 292                 
  passes.  Mr. Callow suggested a sunset clause to the bill.                   
                                                                               
  Number 068                                                                   
                                                                               
  TIM DOOLEY testified from Anchorage against the bill.  Mr.                   
  Dooley stated he would like to see our free market system                    
  preserved.  He believes punitive damages are the one check                   
  and balance we have on the forces of the free market.                        
                                                                               
  Number 207                                                                   
                                                                               
  JOHN SUDDOCK testified from Anchorage against HB 292.  Mr.                   
  Suddock had particular concerns regarding the caps HB 292                    
  places on noneconomic losses.  He believes a tiny number of                  
  people would be affected by this, maybe 20 or so claims a                    
  year.  Mr. Suddock stated that the claims are for people who                 
  are catastrophically hurt or maimed such that it affects the                 
  rest of their lives.  It is common for lawyers to make a                     
  video of these victims of a typical day they endure.  Mr.                    
  Suddock suggested that if the committee saw one of these                     
  films they would not be limiting these victims' rights to                    
  recover whatever a jury may award.                                           
                                                                               
  MR. SUDDOCK commented that the $500,000 doesn't stretch                      
  nearly far enough in the case of a man who becomes a                         
  paraplegic with a wife and five children.  He suggested that                 
  what happens in most cases is that the family breaks up and                  
  the money is thus divided into at least two households, thus                 
  the victim is generally left with much less then the                         
  original $500,000.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 333                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER stated that all the necessities needed to take                   
  care of the health of the victim are covered under award for                 
  economic damages.  For example, any kind of rehabilitative                   
  equipment or anything to make the victim's home more                         
  hospitable, etc.  Rep. Porter also suggested that the                        
  anecdote used showed the family to be insensitive.                           
                                                                               
  Number 345                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SUDDOCK added that he was just talking about anything                    
  that would add a little grace to the victim's life, maybe                    
  travel that would require an attendant.  These are the areas                 
  that will be effected by the deletion of the exceptions to                   
  noneconomic caps.  Mr. Suddock reiterated that this would                    
  apply to only 10 to 20 cases a year in Alaska.  Mr. Suddock                  
  asserted that these are not the cases that drive the                         
  insurance industry.                                                          
                                                                               
  Number 350                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER disagreed with Mr. Suddock and stated that it                    
  was these kinds of cases that drive the insurance rates up.                  
                                                                               
  Number 355                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SUDDOCK advised that the effect of these cases are                       
  dwarfed by the smaller claims.                                               
                                                                               
  Number 369                                                                   
                                                                               
  RUSS WINNER testified via teleconference from Anchorage.                     
  Mr. Winner opposed Sections 16 and 17 and stated that HB 292                 
  will not reduce attorney's fees, and if that's what the                      
  committee was after, then it should look to ways to speed                    
  trials.                                                                      
                                                                               
  MR. WINNER also asked the committee to get some assurances                   
  from the insurance industry that rates will indeed come                      
  down.                                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 484                                                                   
                                                                               
  ERIC SANDERS testified via teleconference from Anchorage in                  
  opposition to HB 292.  He stated it was his understanding                    
  that HB 292 was written substantially by the Citizens for                    
  Tort Reform.  Mr. Sander stated he does not understand why                   
  we are reaching out to victims in the criminal context by                    
  making laws harsher and then turning around and limiting                     
  rights of victims in the civil context.  A clear example of                  
  this is in the provision in which there is a $10,000 cap to                  
  certain people in a wrongful death context.                                  
                                                                               
  Number 555                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHARLES McKEE testified via teleconference from Anchorage in                 
  opposition of HB 292.  Mr. McKee proposed some language to                   
  the findings and purpose section of the bill regarding the                   
  patenting of manufactured items.                                             
                                                                               
  Number 580                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked Mr. McKee to send his written                          
  testimony to the committee.                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 600                                                                   
                                                                               
  GABRIELL LEDOUX testified via teleconference from Kodiak                     
  regarding her personal experience with the civil justice                     
  system.  Ms. LeDoux stated that one and one-half years ago                   
  her husband and nine year old son were lost in a horrendous                  
  automobile accident as a result of the egregiousness of a                    
  truck driver.                                                                
                                                                               
  MS. LEDOUX stated she opposed HB 292 because as it takes                     
  away the rights of the most vulnerable segment of the                        
  Alaskan population, those people who have been devastated by                 
  the negligent acts of others.                                                
                                                                               
  MS. LEDOUX stated that two years ago she never expected to                   
  be in the position she is now.  Ms. LeDoux expressed her                     
  feeling that for most of the committee this issue was                        
  probably a political, academic discussion.  Ms. LeDoux knew                  
  that when she hears people say things like, "life's a risk,                  
  a balancing act" she can tell that they have never been                      
  confronted with a policeman stopping by to tell them that                    
  their entire family has been wiped out.                                      
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-7, SIDE A                                                            
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  DONALD MURRAY testified from the Matsu regarding HB 292.                     
  Mr. Murray stated he had been injured in 1990 and is a                       
  paraplegic and is in much pain.  Mr. Murray told the                         
  committee that if they think $500,000 is enough to                           
  compensate for the kind of pain he lives with constantly,                    
  they are wrong.                                                              
                                                                               
  MR. MURRAY stated that if HB 292 had been in effect when he                  
  got hurt the court house doors would have been shut.                         
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated he would hold HB 292 in the committee                 
  until the next committee meeting.                                            
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON adjourned the meeting at 6:13 p.m.                           
  HB 325 was not heard today.                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects