Legislature(1993 - 1994)
01/27/1994 03:00 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 292 - CIVIL LIABILITY CHAIRMAN HUDSON explained that Rep. Porter would outline the proposed amendments to HB 292. He then explained the contents of the bill's back-up material. Number 324 REP. PORTER stated that Amendment 1 was written to move the obligation of reporting to the legislature on the status of the civil justice system in the state from the Attorney Generals Office to the Division of Insurance. REP. PORTER stated that Amendment 2 was the statute of repose on product liability, construction, personal injury, etc. This amendment provides an exception to the statute of repose for persons who have not reached the age of majority. REP. PORTER explained that Amendment 3 responds to the concern brought up in testimony. It clarifies when the legislature meant for the six years limitation to start running. This amendment clearly states it is when the product is first used for its intended purpose. Number 360 CHAIRMAN HUDSON inquired whether or not it would be wise to insert some language addressing faulty maintenance or repair of a product. REP. PORTER responded that he believed repair and maintenance were one and the same. Number 490 REP. PORTER stated that Amendment 4 relates to the statute of limitations on the actions of health care providers. The amendment also addresses medical practice parameters. Rep. Porter explained that throughout the statute of limitations the bill has included exemptions for persons who are incompetent or are victims of child sexual assault. REP. PORTER stated that Amendment 5 was moot. Number 610 REP. PORTER introduced Amendment 6. This amendment responds to testimony of victim advocates and the criminal justice system that some crimes are so heinous that it would be appropriate to lift the cap on non-economic damages in the cases where the defendant was convicted of a class A or unclassified felony. TAPE 94-4, SIDE B Number 001 REP. PORTER explained that Amendment 7 was drafted to expand the definition of punitive damages. During the testimony the plaintiff's attorneys stated that the standard set of "malicious and conscious acts" was too high and would be virtually impossible to meet. The amendment deletes the word "and" and insert "or." Number 055 REP. PORTER explained that tort actions and awards are given to help victims of wrongdoers whole again. There is some concern that the awards sometimes make people more than "whole." Amendment 8 would address this concern by adding language that says the amount of economic damages awarded for past or future gross earnings shall be reduced by the amount of federal and state income tax that would have been paid on the earnings under tax rates in effect on the date of the injury or death. Number 100 REP. PORTER introduced Amendment 9 and explained that HB 292 allows for periodic payments, and this amendment directs the court to require security to be posted by the company to ensure that they can provide the periodic payment over the time period covered. Number 188 REP. PORTER offered Amendment 10 and explained that it has two main elements: 1) collateral benefits and 2) subrogation of awards. This amendment would allow juries to receive information during a trial regarding collateral benefits, or compensation received from other sources on the same claim. The amendment would also preclude the victim's insurance company from filing to get part of the victim's award to make up for money it may have paid out in health care costs. Number 320 REP. PORTER stated that Amendment 11 replaces the word "pecuniary" with "economic." Number 350 REP. PORTER offered Amendment 12 and explained that the intent is to discourage species lawsuits by allowing the court to sanction. Number 365 REP. MACKIE clarified that the sanctions would be against the attorney of record, not the client. Number 368 REP. PORTER nodded agreement. Number 370 REP. PORTER raised the question of whether or not this section regarding court rules actually has the effect of amending the court rules or if the legislature would be borrowing the language the court rule states and putting it in statute. Number 400 MR. FORD stated that the philosophy Legal Services usually adopts in approaching court rules is a conservative one. Mr. Ford added that both Court Rules 11 and 82 have been cited in the HB 292 to be safe. Number 420 CHAIRMAN HUDSON said that the committee now has a series of twelve amendments that are the product of testimony from all sides of the issue that provides a balanced approach that leans towards the injured party. Chairman Hudson further stated that HB 292 was brought before the body in the first place to try and reduce the cost and litigation while still protecting victim's rights. Number 502 REPS. WILLIAMS and GREEN expressed concern over the apparent lack of time to produce a committee substitute and get it to the committee, as well as various interested parties by the weekend. CHAIRMAN HUDSON responded that he felt confident staff could produce a committee substitute in time for members to take it home by the weekend. CHAIRMAN HUDSON adjourned the meeting at 4:30 p.m.