Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020 – H.B. 57 (Special Session)

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JURY TRIAL THRESHOLD Reduces the jury trial threshold from $50,000


JURY TRIAL THRESHOLD

Reduces the jury trial threshold from $50,000 to $10,000.  Provides that if a party fails to file a motion to transfer within the delays provided by existing law, the matter shall not be transferred.  Further provides that a jury trial shall not be available for non-tort suits originally filed in parish or city court when the amount in controversy does not exceed the parish or city court’s jurisdictional limit.  Provides that in a tort action where a petitioner stipulates or otherwise judicially admits that his cause of action exceeds $10,000, but is less than $50,000, a party requesting a jury trial shall provide a cash deposit in the amount of $5,000.  Further provides that when the case is set for trial, the court may provide for a supplemental bond or cash deposit in accordance with existing law.

EVIDENCE OF LIABILITY INSURANCE

Provides that the existence of insurance coverage shall not be communicated to the jury, unless any of the following apply: (1) a factual dispute related to an issue of coverage is an issue which the jury will decide; (2) the existence of insurance coverage would be admissible to attack the credibility of a witness pursuant to existing law (C.E. Art. 607) which provides for attacking and supporting a witness’ credibility; (3) the cause of action is brought against the insurer alone in the limited circumstances provided by existing law under the direct action statute or under the statute requiring good faith and fair dealing in the settlement of claims.  Provides that the identity of the insurer shall not be communicated to the jury unless the identity of the insurer would be admissible to attack the credibility of a witness pursuant to existing law.  Provides that in all cases brought against an insurer, at the opening and closing of the trial, the court shall read instructions to the jury that there is insurance coverage for the damages claimed by the plaintiff.

RECOVERABLE PAST MEDICAL EXPENSES (COLLATERAL SOURCE)

Provides that in cases where a claimant’s medical expenses have been paid, in whole or in part, by a health insurance issuer or Medicare to a medical provider, the claimant’s recovery of medical expenses is limited to the amount actually paid to the medical provider by the health insurance issuer or Medicare, and any applicable cost sharing amounts paid or owed by the claimant, and not the amount billed.  Provides that the court shall award 40% of the difference between the amount billed and the amount actually paid to the contracted medical provider by a health insurance issuer or Medicare in consideration of the plaintiff’s cost of procurement provided that this amount shall not make the award unreasonable.  Provides that in cases where a claimant’s medical expenses have been paid, in whole or in part, by Medicaid to a medical provider, the claimant’s recovery of medical expenses paid by Medicaid is limited to the amount actually paid to the medical provider by Medicaid, and any applicable cost sharing amounts paid or owed by the claimant, and not the amount billed.  Provides that the recovery of any other past medical expenses shall be limited to amounts paid to a medical provider by or on behalf of the claimant, and amounts remaining owed to a medical provider, including medical expenses secured by a contractual or statutory privilege, lien, or guarantee.  Provides that in cases where a claimant’s medical expenses are paid pursuant to the La. Workers’ Compensation Law (LWC), a claimant’s recovery of medical expenses is limited to the amount paid under the medical payments fee schedule of the LWC.  Provides that in a jury trial, only after a jury verdict is rendered may the court receive evidence related to the limitations of recoverable past medical expenses paid by a health insurance issuer or Medicare.  The jury shall be informed only of the amount billed by a medical provider for medical treatment. Whether any person, health insurance issuer, or Medicare has paid or has agreed to pay, in whole or in part, any of a claimant’s medical expenses shall not be disclosed to the jury. In trial to the court alone, the court may consider such evidence.  The bill does not apply in medical malpractice claims or in claims brought pursuant to the Governmental Claims Act.

EVIDENCE OF FAILURE TO WEAT A SEAT BELT

Repeals the law that provided that the failure to wear a seat belt was prohibited from being admitted into evidence for purposes of mitigation of damages and comparative fault.

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