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Second Substitute S.B. 92

Senator David L. Thomas proposes the following substitute bill:




Sponsor: David L. Thomas

             6      LONG TITLE
             7      General Description:
             8          This bill provides for the recovery of attorney fees by the prevailing party in a civil
             9      lawsuit.
             10      Highlighted Provisions:
             11          This bill:
             12          .    defines prevailing party;
             13          .    provides that the prevailing party in a civil lawsuit may be awarded reasonable
             14      attorney's fees;
             15          .    provides that the award be set at the fair market value of the services received;
             16          .    prohibits awarding fees in excess of the amount the prevailing party would have
             17      paid; and
             18          .    provides for the exclusion of certain types of suits.
             19      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
             20          None
             21      Other Special Clauses:
             22          None
             23      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             24      ENACTS:
             25          78-52-101, Utah Code Annotated 1953

             26          78-52-102, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             27          78-52-103, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             28          78-52-104, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             30      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             31          Section 1. Section 78-52-101 is enacted to read:

             33          78-52-101. Title.
             34          This chapter is known as the "Utah Attorney's Fee Recovery Act."
             35          Section 2. Section 78-52-102 is enacted to read:
             36          78-52-102. Definitions.
             37          As used in this chapter:
             38          (1) "Fee recoverable claim" means a claim in a civil action or proceeding in any court
             39      in this state or a claim in a civil action or proceeding in any court in which the laws of this state
             40      supply the rule of decision except those excluded under Section 78-52-104 .
             41          (2) "Prevailing party" means any party to a civil action or proceeding who prevails on a
             42      claim. A party may not be treated as a prevailing party if the other party's position in the
             43      proceeding or action was substantially justified.
             44          Section 3. Section 78-52-103 is enacted to read:
             45          78-52-103. Attorney fees recoverable by prevailing party.
             46          (1) In all fee recoverable claims based in tort, the court may award the prevailing party
             47      reasonable attorney fees, including the attorney's expenses of litigation that the client
             48      reasonably reimbursed as part of the attorney's fee.
             49          (2) If the court awards attorney fees pursuant to Subsection (1), the court shall fix the
             50      award of fees in the amount of the fair market value of the services for which the award is
             51      made, subject to the following adjustments and limitations:
             52          (a) The prevailing party's attorney has reasonably rendered the services, reasonably
             53      incurred the expense, acted in good faith, and in courteous pursuit of the truthful, economical,
             54      and lawful resolution of the claim or in reasonable response to actions by the nonprevailing
             55      party.
             56          (b) The judge may not award attorney fees in excess of the amount that the prevailing

             57      party paid or agreed to pay for services rendered.
             58          (c) If the services that were rendered in pursuing the claim exceed what are otherwise
             59      reasonable for the matter in controversy, the court shall award the prevailing party the fair
             60      market value of the legal services rendered to the extent that the nonprevailing party or the
             61      nonprevailing party's attorney caused the services to exceed what are otherwise reasonable.
             62          (d) The judge may not adjust the value of the services for or give other consideration to
             63      the contingent nature of the attorney's right to payment from the prevailing party.
             64          (e) The judge may consider the merits of each claim in the context of the totality of the
             65      claims in the action.
             66          Section 4. Section 78-52-104 is enacted to read:
             67          78-52-104. Exclusions.
             68          This chapter does not apply to claims in the following actions:
             69          (1) a claim for wrongful death or bodily injury;
             70          (2) any action involving:
             71          (a) a governmental entity as defined in Section 63-30d-102 ;
             72          (b) a claim for monetary damages against a governmental entity employee as defined in
             73      Section 63-30d-102 where the governmental entity would have the duty to pay claims on his or
             74      her behalf pursuant to Title 63, Chapter 30d, Governmental Immunity Act of Utah; or
             75          (c) any other action or claim not for monetary damages against a governmental entity
             76      employee as defined in Section 63-30d-102 where the employee is sued because of his position
             77      as a public employee or for actions or omissions arising from or occurring during the
             78      performance of the employee's duties, within the scope of the employee's employment, or under
             79      color of authority;
             80          (3) an action for divorce or separate maintenance under the provisions of Title 30,
             81      Husband and Wife, seeking attorney's fees;
             82          (4) a claim in small claims court;
             83          (5) a class action lawsuit; and
             84          (6) a claim in which the nonprevailing party is:
             85          (a) a nominal party;
             86          (b) has no substantial interest; or
             87          (c) does not substantially participate.

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