2009 Regular Session . June 26, 2009
Louisiana Legislature adjourned sine die!
The Legislature adjourned at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 25. The good news is that the civil justice system and the rights of ordinary citizens to access that system emerged relatively unscathed. Despite a full court press by the U.S. Chamber’s local alter ego—Coalition for Common Sense—the six bills on its agenda to “reform” the Louisiana legal system all failed to pass.
Its agenda for Louisiana:
HB 204 by Rep. Tim Burns lowered required security for a suspensive appeal bond to the LESSER of (a) the amount of the judgment, (b) $25 million, or (c) 10 percent of the judgment debtor’s net worth.
HB 205 by Rep. Tim Burns limited recovery of medical expenses to the amount actually paid or incurred.
SB 65, Sen. Jack Donahue and Rep. Neil Abramson, placed specific limitations on the discovery of electronically stored information.
HB 220 by Rep. Tim Burns required certain very specific pleading requirements for claims related to asbestos and silica-related diseases.
HB 245 by Rep. Kirk Talbot and Sen. Mike Walsworth established venue limitations on claims involving latent diseases (asbestos and silica-related diseases).
HB 345 by Reps. Neil Abramson and Tim Burns and Sen. Walsworth set disclosure procedures for asbestos and silica-related injury claims.
HB 204 and HB 205 died in House Civil Law Committee. SB 65 failed to pass the Senate. HB 220, HB 245 and HB 345 passed the House but died in Senate Judiciary A Committee.
Last word from one of the coalition lobbyists, “We’ll bring all these bills back next session.”
Also defeated on the House floor by a vote of 38-60 was HB 72 by Rep. Greg Cromer. This bill redefined health care under the medical malpractice act to include any supervision, monitoring, assistance with daily living, personal hygiene or risk of falling. Under the bill, any harm done to any resident of a nursing home would be treated as medical malpractice, rather than ordinary negligence. Slipping, falling, scalding, dropping, abuse, withholding food or water—all would have been shifted to the medical malpractice act.
SCR 86 by Sen. Julie Quinn gives a clue to another issue likely to arise in the 2010 session. Sen. Quinn’s resolution asks the Law Institute to study multi-district litigation (MDL), a procedure used in the federal court system to transfer all pending civil cases of a similar type filed throughout the U.S. to one federal judge. The resolution suggests that the transfer of civil actions sharing a common question of law or fact to one judicial district in the state would serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote just and efficient outcomes. Similar legislation was adopted in Texas in recent years as part of a tort reform package.
SCR 87 by Sen. Dan Claitor asks the Law Institute to study electronic discovery in civil proceedings. This resolution is in response to SB 65 by Sen. Jack Donahue that would have enacted changes to Code of Civil Procedure rules on discovery of electronic evidence. Noting the past work of the Law Institute in studying and recommending changes to address discovery of electronically stored information, Sen. Claitor’s resolution urges further study by the Law Institute before adopting more legislative changes.
The 2009 session was a shorter session (60 days) and focused primarily on fiscal issues. With the budget shortfalls and the troubled economy, legislators were not as interested in taking on non-fiscal issues. Legislators were limited to five general bills each in this session.
The 2010 session will be a general session, wide open and unlimited as to topics or number of bills filed. In addition, it will be an 85-day session, providing plenty of time to work mischief.
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