Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/20/1996 01:45 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SL&C 2/20/96 Number 50 SB 119 MANDATORY MEDIATION/DESIGN PROF LAWSUITS SENATOR KELLY announced SB 119 to be up for consideration. SENATOR DUNCAN asked who the parties were involved in drafting the legislation. MR. ERNOUF replied Senator Leman, Colin Maynard, design professionals, and the court system. He had heard no objections from trial attorneys. SENATOR LEMAN explained that one change in the CS is that an issue goes to the panel before it is filed in court. The other is that each party puts up $450 which pays for the cost of the panelists. It is consistent with the model law the American Consulting Engineers Counsel has been using in other states. MARY VOLLENDORF, Legislative Aide to Senator Leman, explained that there was no cost to the State and that $450 would be put up front by each of the parties and depending on the outcome, the parties would pay the remaining cost to the panel. CATHERINE REARDON, Director, Occupational Licensing, commented that the Department of Law testified on a similar bill and had some legal concerns. From her point of view the bill is fiscally neutral. She said that it would be her Division's responsibility to choose a chairperson and it would then be his responsibility to choose the other two members of the panel. She questioned whether it would be possible to find attorneys for $300 per panel, but she said her Division could administer it. SENATOR KELLY asked if this bill was legal. MS. REARDON replied that she thought it was legal for the State to pay initially and then be reimbursed from program receipts. It wasn't one of the issues raised by the Attorney General's Office. SENATOR DUNCAN asked how the State would collect if someone refused to pay. MS. REARDON replied that in the other bill, not paying after the fact would be grounds for discipline of a licensee and she referred to the language on page 7, line 12 which said further that if a claimant fails to deposit funds required, the Department would impose a civil penalty of $1,000 against the claimant. She assumed the State would have to go to court to collect in most cases. SENATOR DUNCAN said he would like to see comments from the Department of Law in writing. Number 175 SENATOR KELLY asked if she supported the CS. MS. REARDON replied that she was neutral. SENATOR SALO questioned whether the statute of limitations language was new on page 7. SENATOR LEMAN replied that language was not in the original bill. SENATOR SALO asked what it meant. SENATOR LEMAN answered that it extends the statute of limitations until 30 days after the date of the decision of the panel, but it can't stop for more than six months. This is so that it can't be used to let the statute of limitations run out. MS. VOLLENDORF said the statute of limitations language was from model legislation and Mike Ford, Legislative Legal Counsel, had explained that depending on whether it was contractual or tort, the statute of limitations would be stopped until the decision of the panel was reached. There would be 30 days after the panel made its decision to either file a claim in court or if the decision had not been made within six months, the statute of limitations would start running again. SENATOR KELLY stated that they were waiting to hear from the Department of Law and said they would set the bill aside. SL&C 2/20/06 SB 119 MANDATORY MEDIATION/DESIGN PROF LAWSUITS SENATOR KELLY announced SB 119 to be before the Committee again. MS. REARDON said she had called the Assistant Attorney General, Theresa Williams, who was out of the office. She offered to carry questions to her or to paraphrase from her notes from the other hearing. SENATOR DUNCAN said he would like to have something in writing from the Department of Laws at some point in the process. SENATOR KELLY noted that it has a Judiciary Committee referral and since it is basically a legal question, he wanted to move it on to that Committee. SENATOR MILLER moved to pass CSSB 119 (L&C) with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered.