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First Substitute H.B. 187

Representative Christopher N. Herrod proposes the following substitute bill:


             1     
DEATH CAUSED BY ILLEGAL DRUGS

             2     
2008 GENERAL SESSION

             3     
STATE OF UTAH

             4     
Chief Sponsor: Christopher N. Herrod

             5     
Senate Sponsor: Curtis S. Bramble

             6     
             7      LONG TITLE
             8      General Description:
             9          This bill sets forth a civil cause of action against persons who provide illegal controlled
             10      substances that cause or contribute to the death of a person.
             11      Highlighted Provisions:
             12          This bill:
             13          .    provides that the estate of a person who died due to the use of an illegal controlled
             14      substance may bring a civil action against any person who illegally provided or
             15      administered the substance, and against any person who illegally provided the
             16      substance to any person in the direct chain of supply of providing the substance to
             17      the person who provided the substance to the deceased person;
             18          .    provides an exemption in these actions regarding certain limitations on punitive
             19      damages;
             20          .    provides that this bill does not create or impose liability on the parent or guardian of
             21      a minor who acts in violation of the provisions of this bill unless the parent or
             22      guardian acts in violation of this bill;
             23          .    provides for treble damages; and
             24          .    provides that the burden is on the party bringing the action to establish the causal
             25      connection between the illegal controlled substance and the death.


             26      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
             27          None
             28      Other Special Clauses:
             29          None
             30      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             31      AMENDS:
             32          78B-8-201, as renumbered and amended by Laws of Utah 2008, Chapter 3
             33      ENACTS:
             34          78B-3-801, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             35     
             36      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             37          Section 1. Section 78B-3-801 is enacted to read:
             38          78B-3-801. Cause of action for death caused by use or ingestion of illegal
             39      controlled substances -- Damages.
             40          (1) As used in this section, "substance" means any illegal controlled substance under
             41      Title 58, Chapter 37, Utah Controlled Substance Act.
             42          (2) The estate of a person whose death was caused in whole or in part by ingestion or
             43      other exposure to any illegal controlled substance may bring a civil action for treble damages,
             44      and also punitive damages, against any person:
             45          (a) who unlawfully provided to or administered to the deceased person any substance
             46      that caused or contributed to the death of the deceased person; or
             47          (b) who provided any substance to any person in the chain of transfer of the substance
             48      that connects directly to the person who subsequently provided or administered the illegal
             49      controlled substance to the deceased person under Subsection (2)(a).
             50          (3) The burden is on the estate to prove the causal connection between the death, any
             51      substances provided or administered to the deceased person, and the defendant.
             52          (4) This section does not establish liability of or create a cause of action regarding a
             53      parent or guardian of a person younger than 18 years of age who acts in violation of this
             54      section, unless the parent or guardian acts in violation of this section.
             55          Section 2. Section 78B-8-201 is amended to read:
             56           78B-8-201. Basis for punitive damages awards -- Section inapplicable to DUI


             57      cases -- Division of award with state.
             58          (1) (a) Except as otherwise provided by statute, punitive damages may be awarded only
             59      if compensatory or general damages are awarded and it is established by clear and convincing
             60      evidence that the acts or omissions of the tortfeasor are the result of willful and malicious or
             61      intentionally fraudulent conduct, or conduct that manifests a knowing and reckless indifference
             62      toward, and a disregard of, the rights of others.
             63          (b) The limitations, standards of evidence, and standards of conduct of Subsection
             64      (1)(a) do not apply to any claim for punitive damages arising out of the tortfeasor's:
             65          (i) operation of a motor vehicle or motorboat while voluntarily intoxicated or under the
             66      influence of any drug or combination of alcohol and drugs as prohibited by Section
             67      41-6a-502 [.];
             68          (ii) causing death of another person by providing or administering an illegal controlled
             69      substance to the person under Section 78-16a-1 ; or
             70          (iii) providing an illegal controlled substance to any person in the chain of transfer that
             71      connects directly to a person who subsequently provided or administered the substance to a
             72      person whose death was caused in whole or in part by the substance.
             73          (c) The award of a penalty under Section 78B-3-108 regarding shoplifting is not
             74      subject to the prior award of compensatory or general damages under Subsection (1)(a) whether
             75      or not restitution has been paid to the merchant prior to or as a part of a civil action under
             76      Section 78B-3-108 .
             77          (2) Evidence of a party's wealth or financial condition shall be admissible only after a
             78      finding of liability for punitive damages has been made.
             79          (a) Discovery concerning a party's wealth or financial condition may only be allowed
             80      after the party seeking punitive damages has established a prima facie case on the record that
             81      an award of punitive damages is reasonably likely against the party about whom discovery is
             82      sought and, if disputed, the court is satisfied that the discovery is not sought for the purpose of
             83      harassment.
             84          (b) Subsection (2)(a) does not apply to any claim for punitive damages arising out of
             85      the tortfeasor's:
             86          (i) operation of a motor vehicle or motorboat while voluntarily intoxicated or under the
             87      influence of any drug or combination of alcohol and drugs as prohibited by Section


             88      41-6a-502 [.];
             89          (ii) causing death of another person by providing or administering an illegal controlled
             90      substance to the person under Section 78-16a-1 ; or
             91          (iii) providing an illegal controlled substance to any person in the chain of transfer that
             92      connects directly to a person who subsequently provided or administered the substance to a
             93      person whose death was caused in whole or in part by the substance.
             94          (3) (a) In any case where punitive damages are awarded, the judgment shall provide
             95      that 50% of the amount of the punitive damages in excess of $20,000 shall, after an allowable
             96      deduction for the payment of attorney fees and costs, be remitted by the judgment debtor to the
             97      state treasurer for deposit into the General Fund.
             98          (b) For the purposes of this Subsection (3), an "allowable deduction for the payment of
             99      attorney fees and costs" shall equal the amount of actual and reasonable attorney fees and costs
             100      incurred by the judgment creditor minus the amount of any separate judgment awarding
             101      attorney fees and costs to the judgment creditor.
             102          (c) The state shall have all rights due a judgment creditor until the judgment is
             103      satisfied, and stand on equal footing with the judgment creditor of the original case in securing
             104      a recovery.
             105          (d) Unless all affected parties, including the state, expressly agree otherwise or the
             106      application is contrary to the terms of the judgment, any payment on the judgment by or on
             107      behalf of any judgment debtor, whether voluntary or by execution or otherwise, shall be
             108      applied in the following order:
             109          (i) compensatory damages, and any applicable attorney fees and costs;
             110          (ii) the initial $20,000 punitive damages; and
             111          (iii) the balance of the punitive damages.


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