Legislature(1995 - 1996)

05/05/1996 01:39 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                   SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE                                  
                          May 5, 1996                                          
                           1:39 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman                                                
 Senator Lyda Green, Vice-Chairman                                             
 Senator Al Adams                                                              
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 HOUSE BILL NO. 19(title am)                                                   
 "An Act amending the definition of `fault' as that term is used for           
 the purposes of determining the liabilities of parties in civil               
 actions; amending the definition of `fault' as it relates to                  
 setting limitations on civil liability; and amending the definition           
 of `fault' as it relates to authorizing the award, in conformance             
 with applicable court rule, of attorney fees in civil actions."               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 HB  19 - No previous action to record.                                        
 HB 414 - No previous action to record.                                        
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Represenatative Gene Therriault                                               
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Prime Sponsor of HB 19                                 
 Crystal Smith                                                                 
 Legal Administrator                                                           
 Department of Law                                                             
 P.O. Box 110300                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0300                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of HB 19                          
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 96-48, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
   HB 19(title am) DEFINITION OF "FAULT" FOR CIVIL LIABILITY                  
  CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR  called the Judiciary Committee meeting to             
 order at 1:39 p.m., and brought HB 19(title am) before the                    
 Number 043                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GENE THERRIAULT, prime sponsor of HB 414, said the             
 bill was introduced at the request of an assistant attorney general           
 who is one of his constituents and has dealt with a number of cases           
 where the argument has been advanced that a portion of fault or               
 damages cannot be apportioned to a person who commits an                      
 intentional act.  He noted that in Attorney General Botelho's memo            
 to the legislative leadership relating to the Kerr decision, he               
 indicated part of their concern over the state losing on appeal was           
 that the Supreme Court could rule, in fact, that that argument was            
 valid and the state would not be able to shift any of the fault to            
 the actual criminals in the mail bombing and would have to bear 100           
 percent of the fault itself.                                                  
 SENATOR TAYLOR interjected that no court has held that yet, and               
 that it has been tried in front of several different courts, all of           
 whom rejected it as a silly argument.  REPRESENTATIVE THERRIAULT              
 said because the courts have been ruling that way, they want to               
 clarify it so that bringing that argument as part of a defense is             
 extinguished, and any danger of losing on appeal and judgements               
 going up is also extinguished.                                                
 Number 075                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR, speaking to the Kerr case, said what the jury and             
 the court did in that case was to follow the public's demand for              
 allocation of fault.  They found that the criminals involved were             
 88 percent negligent and that the prison system was 12 percent                
 negligent, so 12 percent of Mrs. Kerr's medical bills, etc.,  will            
 be paid, but the other 88 percent will not.  Prior to the tort                
 reform movement in 1986, she would have been paid 100 percent                 
 because there was joint and several liability in this state.  He              
 personally thinks Mrs. Kerr was deserving of the entire settlement,           
 but that didn't occur.                                                        
 Number 109                                                                    
 CRYSTAL SMITH, Legal Administrator, Department of Law, stated the             
 department's support for HB 19.                                               
 Number 115                                                                    
 Because the committee had lost its quorum, it could not take any              
 action on HB 19.  SENATOR TAYLOR stated the committee would recess            
 to a call of the chair until a quorum could be reestablished.  The            
 meeting was recessed at 1:47 p.m.                                             
 SESSION ADJOURNED ON MAY 7, 1996]                                             

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