2007 Legislation
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SENATE BILL NO. 1153 – Small lawsuit resolutn, dollar amt


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Bill Status

S1153................................................by JUDICIARY AND RULES
SMALL LAWSUIT RESOLUTION ACT - Amends existing law relating to the Small
Lawsuit Resolution Act to increase the amount of total claims for damages
for actions subject to the Act; to increase the maximum amount of total
damages allowable pursuant to an evaluator's decision; and to reference the
increased amount in provisions relating to trial court actions.

02/13    Senate intro - 1st rdg - to printing
02/14    Rpt prt - to Jud
03/01    Rpt out - rec d/p - to 2nd rdg
03/02    2nd rdg - to 3rd rdg
03/05    3rd rdg - PASSED - 33-2-0
      AYES -- Andreason, Bair, Bastian, Bilyeu, Broadsword, Burkett,
      Coiner, Corder, Davis, Fulcher, Gannon, Geddes, Goedde, Hammond,
      Heinrich, Hill, Jorgenson, Kelly, Keough, Langhorst, Little, Lodge,
      Malepeai, McGee, McKague, McKenzie, Pearce, Richardson, Schroeder,
      Siddoway, Stegner, Stennett, Werk
      NAYS -- Cameron, Darrington
      Absent and excused -- None
    Floor Sponsor - Corder
    Title apvd - to House
03/06    House intro - 1st rdg - to Jud
03/16    Rpt out - rec d/p - to 2nd rdg
03/19    2nd rdg - to 3rd rdg
03/22    3rd rdg - PASSED - 42-28-0
      AYES -- Anderson, Andrus, Barrett, Bell, Bilbao, Block, Boe,
      Brackett, Bradford, Chadderdon, Chavez, Chew, Clark, Crane, Edmunson,
      Eskridge, Hart, Harwood, Henderson, Killen, King, Lake, LeFavour,
      Loertscher, Luker(Luker), Mathews, McGeachin, Mortimer, Nielsen,
      Pasley-Stuart, Patrick, Pence, Rusche, Sayler, Shepherd(2),
      Shepherd(8), Shirley, Smith(24), Stevenson, Thayn, Wills, Wood(27)
      NAYS -- Bayer, Bedke, Black, Bock, Bolz, Collins, Durst, Hagedorn,
      Henbest, Jaquet, Kren, Labrador, Marriott, Moyle, Nonini, Raybould,
      Ring, Ringo, Roberts, Ruchti, Schaefer, Shively, Smith(30),
      Snodgrass, Trail, Vander Woude, Wood(35), Mr. Speaker
      Absent and excused -- None
    Floor Sponsor - Smith(24)
    Title apvd - to Senate
03/23    To enrol
03/26    Rpt enrol - Pres signed - Sp signed - To Governor
03/30    Governor VETOED

Bill Text

  ]]]]              LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF IDAHO             ]]]]
 Fifty-ninth Legislature                   First Regular Session - 2007
                                       IN THE SENATE
                                    SENATE BILL NO. 1153
                              BY JUDICIARY AND RULES COMMITTEE
  1                                        AN ACT
  8    Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:
  9        SECTION 1.  That Section 7-1503, Idaho Code, be, and the  same  is  hereby
 10    amended to read as follows:
 13    TION. (1) Civil actions in which the sole relief sought is a money judgment in
 14    which the parties agree that the total claims for  all  damages  sought  by  a
 15    party  do  not  exceed twenty-five fifty thousand dollars  ($250,000) shall be
 16    subject to the provisions of this chapter. This chapter  shall  not  apply  to
 17    appeals  from  the magistrates division, disputes subject to arbitration under
 18    chapter 9, title 7, Idaho Code, proceedings in the small  claims  division  of
 19    the  district court, cases seeking a punitive damages award, or cases in which
 20    this chapter has been previously invoked.
 21        (2)  The provisions of this chapter may be initiated by any party  by  the
 22    filing of a notice with the court. The notice shall be filed at least one hun-
 23    dred  fifty  (150) days prior to a scheduled trial but, without the consent of
 24    all parties, may not be filed within forty-five (45) days following  the  ser-
 25    vice of a complaint. For actions pending in the magistrates division, however,
 26    notice  shall  be  filed  at least one hundred (100) days prior to a scheduled
 27    trial but, without consent of all the parties, may not be filed within  thirty
 28    (30)  days  following the service of a complaint. The trial court shall retain
 29    jurisdiction over a case proceeding under this  chapter  and  the  case  shall
 30    remain on the court's active calendar.
 31        (3)  The  parties shall confer after the filing of the notice to determine
 32    if they wish to undertake evaluation or mediation. If they agree  to  mediate,
 33    the  parties  may  agree  upon a mediator or utilize as mediator an individual
 34    selected pursuant to the evaluator selection provisions of this chapter. If  a
 35    mediation  has  been  conducted  under this chapter, and the mediation has not
 36    resulted in the settlement of all claims, within fourteen (14) days  following
 37    such  mediation,  the  parties shall file a notice with the clerk of the court
 38    that a mediation has been completed, that all claims have not been settled and
 39    specifying the claims which remain.
 40        (4)  If the parties are not able to agree whether to undertake a mediation
 41    or an evaluation under this chapter, a party has seven (7) days after the fil-
 42    ing of the notice of the initiation of the provisions of this chapter to  file
 43    a  motion seeking the court to order which form of alternative dispute resolu-
  1    tion will be used. The moving party has a right to a hearing pursuant  to  the
  2    Idaho rules of civil procedure. In making its determination on the motion, the
  3    court shall consider, among other factors it deems relevant, the nature of the
  4    claim(s)  and  the defense(s), the prior experience, if any, of the parties or
  5    their counsel with mediation or evaluation, in this or other cases, the poten-
  6    tial likelihood that the facts alleged in a claim, if  proven,  will  lead  to
  7    liability  of  one  party  to  another, and the complexity of the case. If the
  8    court does not determine that mediation is a preferable means  of  alternative
  9    dispute  resolution  for  the  particular  case, it shall order the parties to
 10    conduct an evaluation under the provisions of this chapter.  However,  if  the
 11    court  determines  that neither mediation nor evaluation is appropriate in the
 12    case, it may order that the case proceed to trial in accordance with the Idaho
 13    rules of civil procedure.
 14        (5)  Any party may move the court for removal from the evaluation  at  any
 15    stage  for  good  cause including, but not limited to, a substantial change in
 16    circumstances or a reasonable potential for the moving  party  to  later  seek
 17    amendment  to  its  pleadings  to allow that party to pursue punitive damages,
 18    making the evaluation option an inappropriate method to obtain  resolution  of
 19    the particular dispute.
 20        SECTION  2.  That  Section  7-1509, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby
 21    amended to read as follows:
 23    fourteen (14) days following the evaluation, the evaluator shall issue a writ-
 24    ten, signed decision. The evaluator shall determine all issues raised  by  the
 25    pleadings,  including  a  determination   of  any damages. The evaluator shall
 26    apply the applicable law as it exists; however, neither findings of  fact  nor
 27    conclusions of law shall be required. The decision shall be served on the par-
 28    ties.  The  evaluator shall file a notice of issuance of the evaluator's deci-
 29    sion with the clerk of the court, together with proof of service of the notice
 30    and the decision on the parties. The decision shall  not  be  filed  with  the
 31    clerk  of  the  court.  The  evaluator's decision shall not exceed twenty-five
 32    fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) in total damages to a party. The evaluator's
 33    decision shall not include exemplary or punitive damages. An evaluator may, in
 34    addition, award costs and attorney's fees under the  terms  of  an  applicable
 35    contract.  All other costs and attorney's fees to which a party is entitled by
 36    statute or court rule shall be awarded by the court.
 37        (2)  Within twenty-one (21) days after  the  notice  of  issuance  of  the
 38    evaluator's   decision  has  been filed with the clerk of the court, any party
 39    may file with the clerk a request for a trial de novo in the district court on
 40    all issues of law and fact.
 41        (3)  The trial de  novo  shall  proceed  as  if  the  evaluation  had  not
 42    occurred.  No  reference  to the evaluation or to the amount of the evaluation
 43    decision shall be made to the trial court or the jury during any part  of  the
 44    trial de novo. Discovery taken and recorded statements made during the evalua-
 45    tion  process  may be used at the trial de novo as provided in the Idaho rules
 46    of civil procedure and the Idaho rules  of  evidence;  however,  no  reference
 47    shall  be  made  to the fact that any statement was made in an evaluation pro-
 48    ceeding. Any dollar amount sought, demanded or awarded during the  evaluation,
 49    including  the  parties' agreement that for the purposes of the evaluation the
 50    claim is limited to twenty-five fifty thousand  dollars ($250,000),  shall  be
 51    treated  as an offer of compromise pursuant to the Idaho rules of evidence and
 52    shall not be admissible at trial. Any examination made pursuant to the  provi-
 53    sions  of section 7-1507(1)(c), Idaho Code, shall be subject to rule 35 of the
  1    Idaho rules of civil procedure. Any violation of the provisions of  this  sub-
  2    section  by  a party or its attorney shall be subject to appropriate sanctions
  3    by the trial court.
  4        (4)  The relief sought at trial shall not be limited  by  the  evaluation;
  5    provided  however,  that  judgment  for damages of more than twenty-five fifty
  6    thousand dollars ($250,000), exclusive of costs and fees, may not  be  entered
  7    for  a  party  who has agreed that its claim does not exceed twenty-five fifty
  8    thousand dollars ($250,000) for the purposes of initiating alternative dispute
  9    resolution under this chapter and shall be reduced by  the  court  unless  the
 10    claimant  establishes the applicability of the factors of rule 60 of the Idaho
 11    rules of civil procedure. An evaluator may not be called as a witness  at  the
 12    trial de novo.
 13        (5)  The  trial  court shall assess costs, reasonable attorney's fees, and
 14    the entire amount of the evaluator's fee against a party who requests a  trial
 15    de  novo  and  fails  to improve its position at the trial de novo by at least
 16    fifteen percent (15%). For purposes of this subsection, "costs and  reasonable
 17    attorney's  fees" means all attorney's fees and costs as provided for by stat-
 18    ute or court rule incurred after the filing of a request for a trial de  novo.
 19    In  addition, the court shall award all other expert witness fees and expenses
 20    in excess of those permitted by statute or rule if the court finds  that  they
 21    were reasonably incurred.
 22        (6)  Within  twenty-one  (21) days following the filing of the request for
 23    trial de novo, a party may serve upon the other party(ies) a written offer  of
 24    compromise.  If an offer of compromise is not accepted by the other party(ies)
 25    within fourteen (14) days after service thereof, the amount used for determin-
 26    ing whether the party requesting the trial de novo has improved  its  position
 27    shall  be the amount of the offer of compromise. Neither the evaluator's deci-
 28    sion nor the offer of compromise shall be submitted to the trial  court  until
 29    the verdict or judgment has been rendered in the trial de novo.
 30        (7)  The  trial  court  may assess some or all costs and reasonable attor-
 31    ney's fees against a party who withdraws its request for a trial de novo where
 32    the withdrawal is not in conjunction with the acceptance of an offer  of  com-
 33    promise.
 34        (8)  If  no  request for trial de novo has been filed at the expiration of
 35    twenty-one (21) days following the filing of the evaluator's notice  of  deci-
 36    sion,  a  judgment may be presented to the court by any party accompanied by a
 37    copy of the evaluator's decision. If the judgment is in  conformity  with  the
 38    evaluator's  decision  it  shall  be entered and shall have the same force and
 39    effect as any other judgment in a civil action but shall  not  be  subject  to
 40    appellate  review and may only be set aside pursuant to the provisions of rule
 41    60 of the Idaho rules of civil procedure. An accepted offer of compromise  may
 42    also be presented to the court to be converted to a judgment.
 43        (9)  Except  as provided in subsection (5) of this section, the provisions
 44    of this chapter do not affect or preclude the application of any other statute
 45    or rule regarding fees or costs including, but not limited to, those in  title
 46    7  or 12, Idaho Code, section 41-1839, Idaho Code, or the Idaho rules of civil
 47    procedure. Awards of damages and of attorney's fees and costs,  when  made  to
 48    opposing  parties,  shall be set off against one another and judgment shall be
 49    entered for the net amount to the party(ies) entitled thereto.
 50        (10) An evaluator may obtain a judgment for his  fees  and  costs  in  the
 51    pending  litigation  against any party that refuses to pay its share. Judgment
 52    shall be obtained by motion to the trial court which  shall  only  be  granted
 53    after the party failing to pay has had the opportunity to be heard and object.

Statement of Purpose / Fiscal Impact


                       STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

                             RS 16631

The Small Lawsuit Resolution Act began as an experiment with a
sunset provision.  Last year the legislature acted to remove the
sunset provision.  There is much speculation regarding the
success of the experiment.  It is true the SLRA has not produced
the volume of data, positive or negative, the legislature may
have expected.  It is also true the parameters of any experiment
dictate the result, data and eventual success or failure.  Legal
practitioners have indicated their inability to use the statute
because the claimed amount is too small.  Increasing the amount
to $50,000 will increase the usage of the SLRA.  Increasing the
usage of the SLRA will save court time and expedite solutions.

                           FISCAL NOTE

There is no negative impact to the General Fund.

Name: Sen. Tim Corder 
Phone: 332-1336

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE/FISCAL NOTE                        S 1153