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Room W130, West Office Building, State Capitol Complex

Members Present:    Sen. Gregory Bell, Committee Vice Chair
    Sen. Patrice M. Arent     Sen. Mike Dmitrich
    Sen. Lyle Hillyard     Sen. Mark B. Madsen
    Sen. L. Alma Mansell
    Sen. David L. Thomas
Members Excused:    Sen. D. Chris Buttars, Chair
Staff Present:    Jerry Howe, Policy Analyst
    Bonnie Brinton, Committee Secretary
Public Speakers Present:    Steve Johnson, Attorney
    Karl Hendrickson, Association of Counties

A list of visitors and a copy of handouts are filed with the committee minutes.

Acting Committee Chair Hillyard called the meeting to order at 3:40 p.m.     
1.    S.B. 103 Prohibition of Contingent Fees for Expert Witnesses (D. Thomas)

Sen. Thomas presented the bill and an amendment to the bill.

     MOTION: Sen. Thomas moved to adopt the following amendment to the bill:

     1. Page 2, Lines 28 through 52

             28          78-24-20. Prohibition of expert witness contingent fees in civil actions.
             29          (1) As used in this section
  ,            {   :

             30          (a) "Civil action" means an action for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or
             31      property, including a product liability claim. It does not include a civil action for damages for a
             32      breach of contract or another agreement between persons.
             33          (b)  
"Contingent Fee Agreement" means an agreement for the provision of testimony or

             34      other evidence and related services by an expert witness
  in a civil action       that specifies:

{   (i)   }        (a)       the payment of compensation to the expert witness for the testimony, other

             36      evidence, and services is contingent, in whole or in part, upon a judgment being rendered in
             37      favor of the plaintiff or defendant in a civil action, upon a favorable settlement being obtained
             38      by the plaintiff or defendant in a civil action, or upon the plaintiff in a civil action being
             39      awarded in a judgment or settlement damages in at least a specified amount; and
{   (ii)   }        (b)       upon satisfaction of the contingency described in Subsection (1)(b)(i), the

             41      compensation to be paid to the expert witness is in a fixed amount or an amount to be
             42      determined by a specified formula, including, but not limited to, a percentage of a judgment
             43      rendered in favor of the plaintiff or a percentage of a favorable settlement obtained by the
             44      plaintiff.
             45          (2) A plaintiff or defendant in a
{   tort   }        civil       action may not engage an expert witness by means

             46      of a contingent fee agreement
  , unless approval is sought and received from the court       .

             47          (3)
{   If a defendant presents testimony or other evidence in a tort action by means of an

             48      expert witness, evidence of a common insurer of liability of the defendant and the expert
             49      witness or evidence of a potential financial impact of the action on the amount of liability
             50      insurance premiums paid by the expert witness is inadmissible to prove bias, interest, or
             51      prejudice of the expert witness unless the party offering the evidence proves that the probative
             52      value of the evidence outweighs the evidence's potential prejudicial effect.  
  An expert witness may be engaged by the plaintiff or defendant on the contingency that the expert actually qualify as an expert. Once the witness is qualified as an expert Subsection (2) applies to his continued participation in the action.      

    The motion passed unanimously with Sens. Bell and Mansell absent for the vote.

Sen. Madsen assumed the Chair.

2.     S.B. 61 Uniform Mediation Act (L. Hillyard)

    Sen. Hillyard presented the bill.

    Steve Johnson, Attorney, spoke in favor of the bill.

     MOTION: Sen. Hillyard moved to pass S.B. 61 out of committee with a favorable recommendation. The motion passed unanimously.

Sen. Hillyard assumed the Chair.

3.    S.B. 133 Liability Protections for Charity Care (P. Knudson)

At the Sponsor's request, this bill was not considered.

4.    S.B. 149 Providing for Indigent Defense (G. Bell)

Sen. Bell presented the bill.

    Sen. Thomas declared a Conflict of Interest.

    Karl Hendrickson, Counsel, Utah Association of Counties, spoke in favor of the bill.

     MOTION: Sen. Thomas moved to pass S.B. 149 out of committee with a favorable recommendation. The motion passed unanimously.

     MOTION: Sen. Mansell moved to adjourn. The motion passed unanimously.

Acting Committee Chair Hillyard adjourned the meeting at 4:05 p.m.

Minutes recorded by Bonnie Brinton, Committee Secretary

            Sen. Greg Bell, Committee Vice Chair