LEGISLATIVE SUCCESS

 

Find a listing of our legislative accomplishments. Check back on a regular basis in order to see our up-to-the-minute progress. Click on the RSS icon on the right to subscribe to this page as a news feed and have updates instantly sent to you.



LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS

 

2016 Session

 

HB0079

Short Title: Nonpatient Cause of Action

Sponsor: McIff

Status: Passed

 

This bill repeals provisions concerning prelitigation panels and provides requirements for a nonpatient plaintiff to establish a malpractice action against a health care provider.

 

HB0085

Short Title: Attorney Fee Revisions

Sponsor: Greene

Status: Failed

 

This bill repeals a provision that disavows the private attorney general doctrine.

 

HB0091

Short Title: Interest Rate Amendments

Sponsor: Powell

Status: Failed

 

This bill establishes a legal interest rate based on the federal postjudgment interest rate for a contract or other chose of action prior to judgment.

 

HB0403

Short Title: Asbestos Litigation Transparency Act

Sponsor: Wilson

Status: Passed

 

This bill requires asbestos plaintiffs to investigate and file all asbestos bankruptcy trust claims and provide parties with all trust claims materials after commencement of an asbestos-related lawsuit. 

 

SB0049

Short Title: Statute of Limitations on Environmental Code Violations

Sponsor: Escamilla

Status: Passed

 

This bill extends the statute of limitations for a violation of Title 19, Environmental Quality Code to two years. We worked with the sponsor to amend the language and bring the statute of limitations down from 5 years to 2 years. We also were able to make the bill prospective only.

 

SB0226

Short Title: Civil Actions Involving Law Enforcement Officers or Emergency Vehicle Operators

Sponsor: Madsen

Status: Failed

 

This bill amends provisions relating to civil actions involving law enforcement officers or emergency vehicle operators.

 

2015 Session

 

HB0034

Short Title: Personal Injury Damages Amendments

Sponsor: Mciff

Status: Passed

 

This bill limits the amount of damages recoverable in certain personal injury actions. This bill was an agreed upon bill that cleaned up language that interested parties had worked on in previous years. The trial attorneys had some concerns with the previous language and some unforeseen consequences that they believed the language created.  We monitored the bill to make sure that no additional changes were made during the process of passing the bill.



HB0405

Short Title: Third Party Duty Amendments

Sponsor: McCay

Status: Failed

 

This bill will be part of a larger discussion to resolve the issues that were brought up regarding duty of care to third party injuries. This issue will be discussed during the interim for the 2016 session.

 

SB0085S02

Short Title: Truth in Advertising Amendments

Sponsor: Weiler

Status: Failed

 

This bill modifies provisions of the Truth in Advertising act relating to deceptive trade practices by adding:

 

167          (t) (i) advertises the results of a cosmetic medical procedure with an image or
168     photograph that is false, misleading, or deceptive, including a before and after image that
169     exaggerates or otherwise fails to accurately depict the expected results of the cosmetic medical
170     procedure; and
171          (ii) does not clearly and conspicuously disclose the aspects of the image or photograph
172     that make it false, misleading, or deceptive;

 

We thought that this language was too broad and ambiguous and would be used by competitors and others to harm the business community. The bill was substituted but we still had concerns with the substituted language.




SB0161

Short Title: Insurance Revisions

Sponsor: Davis

Status: Failed

 

This bill provides that an insured person injured by an unfair claim settlement practice may bring a private cause of action against an insurer or a person representing an insurer who engages in an unfair claim settlement practice if the unfair claim settlement practice was made in relation to certain motor vehicle insurance policies. The bill also provides that a court may award an insured person injured by an unfair claim settlement practice actual damages, costs, and attorney fees, and, if the court determines that the circumstances are appropriate, punitive damages. This is a bill that has been introduced the past few sessions and may be introduced again next year.

 

SB0233S01

Short Title: Attorney General Contingent Fee Contracts

Sponsor: Adams

Status: Passed

 

This bill imposes requirements on the attorney general related to entering into contingent fee contracts with private attorneys. The bill adds transparency to the hiring of outside council by the Attorney General. The bill places limits on the amount of contingent fees that can be paid under a tiered contingent fee contract. Utah is the 8th state to pass this type of bill.




 

2014 Session

 

Bill: Not Numbered

Short Title: Trespasser Liability Amendments

Sponsor: Wilson, B.

Status: Bill never finished being drafted

 

Last year we worked with Rep. Wilson to pass HB0347 Landowner Liability Amendments. The bill limited the liability of landowners with relation to a trespasser. This year the trial attorneys had some changes that they wanted to make to this section of code and asked Rep. Wilson to run a bill. Rep. Wilson opened a bill file during the interim.  We talked with Rep. Wilson and voiced our concerns.  He agreed that it was to soon to open this bill up and we should wait a few years to see if any changes needed to be made.

 

 

Bill: HB0118S01 

Short Title: Substitute Personal Injury Damages Amendments

Sponsor: McIff, K.

Status: Passed with Amendment

 

This bill amends provisions related to a cause of action for personal injury damages. During the Senate Education Committee the limit of 100,000 was taken out of the bill, increasing liability. We worked with the Senate and the sponsor of the bill to put the limit back in the bill. With that amendment the bill passed both bodies.

 

 

Bill: HB0359S01

Short Title: Workplace Discrimination

Sponsor: Wheatley, M.

Status: Failed

 

This bill modifies provisions related to workplace discrimination and opens a new cause of action. When the bill came out we worked the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee and educated them on the unintended consequences.  The bill was sent back to rules.

 

 

Bill: SB0069S01

Short Title: Prejudgment Interest Revisions

Sponsor: Urquhart, S.

Status: Passed

 

This bill was a priority of the UCJL. The bill requires that in order for a plaintiff to receive prejudgment interest, the plaintiff shall have tendered an offer of settlement for tier one cases. The bill also takes the interest rate from a static 7.5% to a floating rate of 2% above federal prime with a floor and a ceiling of 5% and 10%.   The bill also changes the trigger date to the year in which the special damage was actually incurred. This bill was a huge fight from the beginning to end.  With a lot of work we were able to pass the bill through both bodies and take a great step in making prejudgment interest more equitable for the defendant.

 

 

Bill: SB0197

Short Title: Motor Vehicle Insurance- Settlement of Claims

Sponsor: Davis, G.

Status: Failed

 

This bill modifies the Insurance Code by amending provisions relating to unfair claim settlement practices on certain motor vehicle insurance policies and opens a new cause of action. We worked with Senate leadership to make sure that this bill did not pass out of the Senate. The bill was passed out of committee and had a short discussion but was then circled in the Senate and sent back to rules.

 

 

Bill: SB0264S01

Short Title: Retention of Outside Counsel, Expert Witnesses, and Litigation Support Services

Sponsor: Adams, S. 

Status: Passed

 

This bill was a priority of the UCJL. The bill modifies a provision relating to the attorney general's procurement of litigation related services. The bill mandates that the Attorney Generals office implement rules with contingency fee limits before May 30th. We have been meeting with the Attorney General for the last few weeks and have been able to show him the need for contingency fee limits. The Attorney General and his office were originally opposed to the idea but have now begun to see the need for limits. We have developed a good working relationship with the Attorney general and are optimistic that we will be able to work through this issue during the interim and pass legislation next session with contingency fee limits and the support of the Attorney Generals office.  We will be sending you updates as we continue to work on this issue through the next year.

 

 

Bill: SB0271S01

Short Title: Postjudgment Interest Revisions

Sponsor: Bramble, C.

Status: Passed

 

This bill increases the postjudgment interest rate. We amended the bill to apply only to final judgments below 10,000 dollars. We also amended the bill to apply only to actions regarding the purchase of goods and services.

 

 

2013 Session

 

HB0161

Short Title: Product Liability Amendments

Sponsor: Mckell

Status: Failed

 

This bill requires an entity that first sells or distributes foreign manufactured products to be subject to the same liability as the product's manufacturer. This bill we worked to defeat in coordination with the Manufacturers Association and the Retailers.  This bill would have set a bad precedent and had various unintended consequences that would have driven the cost of business up in Utah. Representative Mckell feels very strongly about this bill and I would assume that we will be seeing it again in the future.

 

HB0331

Short Title: Property Damage Claims

Sponsor: Snow, V. L.

Status: Passed

 

This bill provides that property damage to motor vehicles can be maintained in a small claims court without limiting the ability to make another claim against the same individual in regards to bodily injury. We opposed this bill because it increased the amount of litigation that companies would have to go through.

 

HB0347

Short Title: Landowner Liability Amendments

Sponsor: Wilson, B. 

Status: Passed

 

This bill defines terms recodifies Title 57, Chapter 14, Limitation of Landowner Liability – Public Recreation, and renames it "Limitations on Landowner Liability" and describes a landowner's liability, and limitations on liability, in relation to a
trespasser.  This bill was one that we worked with the sponsor to bring forth in 2012 but do to some of the possible unforeseen consequences we held the bill. We then worked with the sponsor in 2013 to pass the bill. The bill codifies common law in Utah.  The bill makes it so that a landowner owes no duty of care to a trespasser except for the commonly accepted exceptions.

 

SB0149

Short Title: Governmental Immunity Amendments

Sponsor: Adams, J. S.

Status: Held

 

This bill enacts language creating an exemption from waiver of governmental immunity for certain injuries arising from the operation of a law enforcement vehicle in pursuit. This bill had some constitutional concerns and was held.

 

SB0212

Short Title: Judicial Code Amendments 

Sponsor: Okerlund, R.

 Status: Failed

 

This bill amends the rate calculation for prejudgment interest accrued in personal injury judgments. This bill would have taken the rate down and changed the date that the plaintiff would have begun to receive interest to a later date.  This bill had significant opposition. The bill was able to pass the Senate Committee and the Senate but was to late in the session to pass through the House.

 

2010 Session

Once again the budget (or lack of) was the big story during this years session but in between budget cutting discussions the UCJL was successful in playing a significant role in the legislative process and in continuing to grow our organizational presence at the capitol.  As you will read this year most of the issues we supported were successful and most of the issues we opposed were stopped or amendments were adopted to make the bills more acceptable.

First a Few Thank You's:

We would like to thank Senator Stuart Adams for all of his hard work sponsoring and helping negotiate the successful passage of 3rd SubSB145 Medical Malpractice Amendments.  That bill was a  huge victory for our health care related members and all businesses interested in lowering the costs of medical care.  In addition to Senator Adams we also wish to thank Speaker of the House Dave Clark for quietly pulling the bill along, House sponsor Representative Brad Last, Senator Margaret Dayton and all those representatives and senators that voted in favor of the bill and who played important roles in helping move the bill through to passage.  We would also like to thank Rep. Jim Dunnigan for his work in helping push amendments to help mitigate some of the most egregious problems related to SB62 and in helping fight for the rights of businesses and individuals across the state.  Finally, we would like to thank the "insurance warriors" and all the other lobbyists (Chris, Rolayne, David, Lincoln, Mike, Mike, Brian, Dave and Michelle who helped in the continuing fight to push a pro-business, pro tort reform legislative agenda.

SB145 – Medical Malpractice Amendments

Sen. Adams

Position: Support

Outcome: Passed

Going into the session we discussed our goals and priorities regarding med mal reform and it was decided that the most important reforms that were needed related to hard capping non-economic damages (decreasing the current cap and removing the inflation aspect of the current cap) and finding some way to limit the number of frivolous lawsuits filed against doctors who had done nothing wrong but were being sued by plaintiffs who were on “fishing expeditions” looking for an easy settlement.

We are pleased to report that 3rdSubSB145 accomplishes both of these goals and additionally helps clarify and protect hospitals and providers in an area of the law called ostensible agency where trial attorneys had been gaining ground and increasing provider liability in other states.  Specifically regarding the cap, 3rdSub.SB145 will lower the cap on non-economic damages from a high of $490,000 with inflation tied to Urban CPI to a hard cap of $450,000 with no inflation going forward.

SB62 - Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage

Sen. Urquhart

Position: Oppose

Result: Amended and Passed

Probably the most significant challenge the UCJL and our member partners faced this past session.  As introduced the bill was completely one sided and unfair.  Working with partners from the Property and Casualty insurance industry changes were made to the amounts that could be awarded above and beyond policy caps to make them more reasonable (strictly relative to the introduced version of the bill).  The UCJL also helped to change the process for determining what constitutes a “low ball” offer to a more favorable determination process than what was proposed in the introduced version of the bill.

SB70 Motor Vehicle Liability Amendments

Sen. Urquhart

Position: Support

Result: Passed

This bill limits the liability of an owner of a vehicle or the furnisher of the vehicle to a minor and makes it clear that a minor is not subject to joint and several liability except in cases of direct negligence. In simple terms what this bill does is make sure parents assets are not at risk if their child is involved in an accident.

SB208 Jury Amendments

Sen. Okerlund

Position: Support

Result: Held

This bill would have allowed either party to a lawsuit or arbitration proceeding which involves medical economic damages to introduce evidence showing the amounts actually paid to, and accepted by, any medical provider as payment for treatment, care, or maintenance provided to an injured party.  Evidence may include, without limitation, any amounts scheduled, reduced, written off, or no longer claimed by the medical provider. The finder of fact may consider the evidence when determining the amounts of the reasonable, usual, and necessary damages for treatment, care, and maintenance of the injured party in the award of medical economic damages.

Commentary: The bill was strongly opposed by the health insurance industry on the grounds that it may slow down the repayment process for situations where a subrogation right existed.  Significant efforts were made on our side to try and make the bill work for the health insurers but in the time that was available no agreement was reached.  Rather than run the bill against the opposition the UCJL plans to work with health insurers over the interim to come up with a proposal that will work for next session.

SB225 MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE – NAMED DRIVER EXCLUSION

Sen. Hillyard

Position: Support

Outcome: Passed

This bill provides that a policy of personal lines insurance or combination of personal lines policies purchased to satisfy the owner's or operator's security requirement may specifically exclude from coverage a person who is a resident of the named insured's household or a person who usually or customarily operates the motor vehicle; and then provides limited exclusions related to the policy.

SB254 - Motor Vehicle Insurance - Unfair Claim Settlement Practices

Sen. Gene Davis

Position: Oppose

Outcome: Held in committee

This bill allows for a person injured by an unfair claim settlement practice may bring a private cause of action against an insurer or a person representing an insurer who engages in an unfair claim settlement practice if the unfair claim settlement practice was made in relation to certain motor vehicle insurance policies;  provides that a court may award a person injured by an unfair claim settlement practice actual damages, costs and attorney fees, and, if the court determines that the circumstances are appropriate, punitive damages; and makes technical changes.

Commentary: This bill was held in committee after an agreement between the opposing sides that the UCJL would drop pursuit of passing SB208 if this bill was dropped.

 

2009 Session

HB 192 – Personal Injury Judgment Interest

Rep. Jim Dunnigan

Position: UCJL Supported

Result: BILL PASSED with amendments negotiated by UCJL

Original Language:

The bill required interest accrued on special damages to be simple interest, not compound interest, and changed the date from which interest is accrued for special damages from the date of the occurrence of the act giving rise to the cause of the action to the date that the damage was actually incurred.

(1) In all actions brought to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by any person, [resulting from or occasioned by the tort of any other person, corporation, association, or partnership, whether by] caused by the negligence or willful intent of [that other] another person[, corporation, association, or partnership] or entity, and whether the injury was fatal or otherwise, the plaintiff in the complaint may claim interest on special damages actually incurred [from the date of the occurrence of the act giving rise to the cause of action].
(2) It is the duty of the court, in entering judgment for plaintiff in that action, to add to the amount of special damages actually incurred that are assessed by the verdict of the jury, or found by the court, prejudgmentfrom the date of the occurrence of the act giving rise to the cause of action to the date of entering the judgment,] and to include it in that judgment.
(3) Interest claimed on any special damage shall be computed from the date the damage was actually incurred.
(4) Interest under Subsections (1) and (2) shall be simple and not compounded. interest on that amount calculated at the legal rate, as defined in Section 15-1-1, [

Language as Amended and Passed:

In all actions brought to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by any
person, [resulting from or occasioned by the tort of any other person, corporation, association, or partnership, whether by] caused by the negligence or willful intent of [that other] another person, corporation, association, or partnership, and whether the injury was fatal or otherwise, the plaintiff in the complaint may claim interest on special damages actually incurred from the date of the occurrence of the act giving rise to the cause of action.
(2) It is the duty of the court, in entering judgment for plaintiff in that action, to add to the amount of special damages actually incurred that are assessed by the verdict of the jury, or found by the court, prejudgmentthe legal rate, as defined in Section 15-1-1 ] 7.5% simple interest per annum, from the date of the occurrence of the act giving rise to the cause of action to the date of entering the judgment, and to include it in that judgment. interest on that amount calculated at [

[(3) Interest claimed on any special damage shall be computed from the date the damage was actually incurred.

(4) Interest under Subsections (1) and (2) shall be simple and not compounded.]

HB 294 – Survival Action Upon Injury or Death

Rep. Kay McIff

Position:  UCJL Opposed

Result:  BILL PASSED with amendments negotiated by UCJL

Original Language:

If, prior to judgment or settlement, the injured person dies as a result of a cause other than the injury received as a result of the wrongful act or negligence of the wrongdoer, the personal representatives or heirs of the person have a cause of action against the wrongdoer or personal representatives of the wrongdoer [only] for special and general damages [occurring prior to death] which resulted from the injury caused by the wrongdoer [, including income loss] and which occurred prior to death of the injured party from the unrelated cause.

[(c) "Special damages" does not include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life,
and other not readily quantifiable damages frequently referred to as general damages.]
(c) If the death of the injured party from an unrelated cause occurs more than six
months after the incident giving rise to the claim for damages, the claim shall be limited to special damages unless, prior to the expiration of the six months, written notice of intent to hold the wrongdoer responsible has been given or is the

subject of ongoing negotiations between the parties or persons representing the parties or their insurers.

Language as Amended and Passed:

If, prior to judgment or settlement, the injured person dies as a result of a cause other than the injury received as a result of the wrongful act or negligence of the wrongdoer, the personal representatives or heirs of the person have a cause of action against the wrongdoer or personal representatives of the wrongdoer [only] for special damages, and general damages not to exceed $100,000, [occurring prior to death] which resulted from the injury caused by the wrongdoer [, including income loss] and which occurred prior to death of the injured party from the unrelated cause.

[(c) "Special damages" does not include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other not readily quantifiable damages frequently referred to as general damages.]
(c) If the death of the injured party from an unrelated cause occurs more than six
months after the incident giving rise to the claim for damages, the claim shall be limited to special damages unless, prior to the expiration of the six months, written notice of intent to hold the wrongdoer responsible has been given or is the subject of ongoing negotiations between the parties or persons representing the parties or their insurers.

SB 176 – Civil Fees in Small Claims Courts Amendments

Sen. Jon Greiner

Position: UCJL Opposed

Result: BILL PASSED with amendments supported by UCJL

Original Language:

The bill increased the jurisdictional amount for small claims court from $7,500 to $12,500 and increased all filing fees in small claims court.

Language as Amended and Passed:

The bill increased the jurisdictional amount for small claims court from $7,500 to $10,000 only and increased all filing fees in small claims court.

SB 172  Underinsured Motorist Coverage Amendments

Sen. Steve Urquhart

Position: UCJL Opposed

Result:  BILL PASSED with amendments supported by UCJL

Original Language:

c) For an insurance policy or combination of policies providing underinsured motorist coverage issued or renewed on or after July 1, 2009, the underinsured motorist coverage carrier has no subrogation claim against the person liable for the injuries caused in the accident.

Language As Amended and Passed:

The bill repeals the requirement that the Insurance Department specify the manner of notification to the underinsured motorist coverage carrier that all liability insurers have tendered their liability policy limits.

Within five business days after notification [in a manner specified by the department] that all liability insurers have tendered their liability policy limits, the underinsured carrier shall either:
(i) waive any subrogation claim the underinsured carrier may have against the person liable for the injuries caused in the accident; or
(ii) pay the insured an amount equal to the policy limits tendered by the liability carrier.

SB 79 – Health Reform - Medical Malpractice Amendments

Sen. Peter Knudson

Position: UCJL Supported

Result: BILL PASSED with amendments supported by UCJL

The bill established a standard of proof of clear and convincing evidence for malpractice actions based on emergency care received in an emergency room. It also provided oversight of medical expert witnesses by the physician licensing board and made it unprofessional conduct to provide expert medical testimony that is false or without scientific basis.

SB 271 – Judicial Conduct Commission Amendments

Sen. Gene Davis

Position: UCJL Supported

Result: BILL PASSED without amendments

The bill authorizes the Legislature’s Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee to review relevant complaints, papers, testimony, and records of the Judicial Conduct Commission for the purpose of determining a nominee's fitness for judicial office.

HB 127 – Personal Injury Protection Coverage Amendments

Rep. Todd Kiser

Position: UCJL Supported

Resul: BILL PASSED without amendments

This bill allows a presumptive personal representative to present and resolve a claim for applicable benefits payable under personal injury protection coverage resulting from the death of an insured.

HB 329 – Wrongful Death Claims

Rep. Lorie Fowlke

Position: UCJL Supported

Result: BILL PASSED without amendments

The bill authorized wrongful death claims of children to be handled in the same manner as the wrongful death claims of adults.

SB 236 – Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Amendments

Sen. Mark Madsen

Position: UCJL Opposed

Result: BILL FAILED

This bill: provides that an underinsured motorist coverage carrier shall pay certain awards, fees, and costs if: the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage carrier does not offer the insured or other covered person the limits of the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage policy after the claimant has made a demand for the policy limits or the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage carrier's offer to pay the insured or other covered person's policy limits after the claimant has made a demand for the policy limits is not made at least 60 days prior to an award being rendered by an arbitration panel or other judicial proceeding; and the award rendered by an arbitration panel or other judicial proceeding awards the insured or other covered person an amount equal to or greater than the limits of the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage policy; and makes technical changes.