2009 Regular Session . May 12, 2009
Keep Up Your Contacts with Legislators
SB 65 Up for Senate Vote Tuesday, May 19
The electronic discovery bill proposed by the U.S. Chamber’s “Coalition for Common Sense” will be up for a floor vote in the Senate on Tuesday, May 19. The bill, SB 65 by Sen. Jack Donahue, has been made Special Order for the day. This is done when a bill is particularly controversial and will take some time to debate.
What that means for you is that your calls and e-mails to senators are working to slow the bill’s progress. It also means that all of the myriad corporate entities and their trade associations that support the work of the U.S. Chamber and LABI have another week to lobby in favor of the bill.
Call your senator now. This bill does nothing to aid the litigation process. It throws out electronic discovery rules developed by the Law Institute and modeled on the federal rules and puts in their place legislation that will increase costs and delay resolution of the case.
Med Mal Expansion Bill on House Civil Law Agenda for May 18
HB 72 by Rep. Greg Cromer is on the agenda for the meeting of House Civil Law and Procedure on Monday, May 18. This is the bill, brought for the fifth year in a row, to expand medical malpractice coverage to non-medical professionals. It defines health care to include “patient-related services” such as “supervision, monitoring, assistance with activities of daily living, personal hygiene, or risk of falling.”
Primary proponents of this bill are nursing homes.
Contact House Civil Law & Procedure Committee members to express your opposition to this bill. Further, all representatives should be contacted now on this bill as it is expected to come out of committee. Once it’s out of committee, a floor vote could come in a matter of days.
Yet Another Immunity Bill
Senate Jud A Committee reported out SB 106 by Sen. Sherri Cheek this morning. The bill grants an expansive immunity to employees and volunteers of a health care provider facility (read hospital or nursing home) and the officers, directors, shareholders, partners, members or managers of legal entities that own or operate a facility. The original bill included spouses, siblings, parents, children and grandchildren of the facility employees in the immunity, but those named categories of relatives were amended out after Sen. Ed Murray pointed out that those relatives, if they were not employees, officers, directors or such, would be volunteers and therefore covered by the bill.
The actions for which these personnel are immune include assisting in or failing to assist in the evacuation, sheltering, care delivery, transportation or repopulation of residents in the facility.
The immunity in SB 106 extends for 30 days after the end of the state of emergency. David Abramson, LAJ member from New Orleans, pointed out to the committee that the state of emergency can continue for weeks or months after the patients or residents have been returned to their facility and are no longer in danger from the original event. He also pointed out that a state of emergency can be declared for a portion of a parish as a result of a discrete event, such as a chemical spill, with no patients or residents of any facility directly threatened. But because the entire parish is in a declared state of emergency, the facility has an immunity for its negligent actions during that time.
LAJ President Allan Kanner also testified against the bill, pointing out that giving immunity for mishandling of residents and patients during an emergency discourages disaster planning. Representatives of the Louisiana Hospital Association touted their hospitals’ emergency preparedness planning. But when Sen. Ed Murray challenged them to insert consequences for facilities that failed to follow their own plan, the hospitals’ lobbyist said they did not want the failure to adhere to the plan to be treated as gross negligence.
This bill could come up for a vote later this week, so contact your senator now if you have a problem with this immunity bill.
The amendments proposed by Senate Jud A Committee should be incorporated into the bill in the next day or two.
For current copies of all legislation, visit the Legislative Web Portal at www.legis.state.la.us.
LAJ Legislative Awareness Day Is Resounding Success
More than 75 LAJ members and guests took a proactive role in LAJ Legislative Awareness Day. Thanks go to Abboud Thomas, chair of the event, for his leadership. Members who participated as well as legislators who were visited by members have extremely positive responses to the day's events. Allan Kanner, LAJ president, said LAJ Legislative Awareness Day is priceless because it "reminds legislators that LAJ is not an organization. It's a collection of people who, in turn, represent other people in their communities." There just is no substitute for face-to-face conversation with legislators.
View live and archived broadcasts of some legislative committee hearings. Go to Legislature's Web portal to view schedules and instructions on how to tune in. Use this same link to contact your legislators, access information about bills, check committee schedules and more.