Civil Law

April 9, 2015 | Category: Civil

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 98 concerning lawsuits against gun manufacturers sponsored by Reps. Smaltz and Torr.  Rep. Smaltz presented the bill, which seeks to amend provisions in Title 34 to prohibit bringing or maintaining certain lawsuits against weapons manufacturers, effective retroactively to August 26, 1999.  After receiving testimony and committee discussion, the bill passed 7-4.

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 282 concerning unclaimed property act and savings bonds sponsored by Rep. Wesco.  The bill authorizes the Attorney General to process unclaimed savings bonds held for more than 20 years as unclaimed property. The bill also authorizes the Attorney General to claim unclaimed savings bonds held by the federal government if the bond was purchased in Indiana or held by an Indiana resident.  A representative for the Attorney General’s office testified in support, and the bill passed 9-0.

The House Judiciary Committee continued its discussion from a few weeks ago on SB 307 concerning consumer protection authored and presented by Sen. Bray. The Committee adopted an amendment by consent that clarifies that telephone service providers are not subject to the provisions of this bill.  The committee also accepted a second amendment by consent to provide that the issuer of life insurance must include certain disclaimers that the insurance policy is not a contract for prepaid services or merchandise under IC 30-2-13, or a funeral policy; and the proceeds are not guaranteed to be exempt as a resource from Medicaid. The Committee considered an amendment relating to the home improvement fraud provisions of the bill. After discussion on those provisions and the amendments, the Committee removed the home improvement fraud sections of the bill.  A representative from the Attorney General’s office testified on the bill and the amendments.  The amended bill passed 7-3.

The House Judiciary Committee continued its discussion from last week on SB 524 concerning tax deeds and conveyance documents authored and presented by Sen. Zakas.  An amendment was offered that makes the provision on tax deeds and tax sales effective January 1, 2016, and the provision on recording certain documents effective upon passage; clarifies that if a purchaser fails to include the specified documents with the verified petition, the tax deed is not prima facie evidence of the sale; clarifies that if verified petitions are filed by the county auditor under an agreement with the county treasurer, the tax deed constitutes prima facie evidence of the validity of the sale upon timely production of all copies of the notices, etc., in response to a challenge to a tax deed; and specifies that if the issuance of a tax deed does not constitute prima facie evidence, then the purchaser has the burden of proving the validity of the sale by a preponderance of the evidence.  The amendment was adopted by consent.  The Indiana State Bar testified in support of the amended bill.  The bill passed as amended 10-0.

Civil Law

April 2, 2015 | Category: Civil

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 524 concerning tax deeds and conveyance documents, sponsored by Rep. Steuerwald. This bill provides that when a county auditor sends out certain notices for a tax sale by certified mail, the notices must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. The bill also requires that a verified petition for a tax deed to real property acquired in a tax sale must include copies of various notices sent by the petitioner, copies of certified mail mailing receipts, copies of certified mail return receipts, returned mailing envelopes, and evidence used by the petitioner to ascertain the owner of property and any other persons with a substantial property interest of public record in the property. The bill also provides that a tax deed is not prima facie evidence of the validity of a tax sale, if the petitioner for the tax deed fails to include with the petition the copies of notices, copies of mailing receipts, return receipts, returned mailing envelopes, and copies or descriptions of the evidence used to ascertain the owner and other persons having a substantial property interest of public record in the property. It also provides that a tax deed that does not comply with certain filing requirements is validly recorded, regardless of when it is recorded. An amendment was introduced concerning serial tax delinquencies, which was adopted by consent.  A second amendment was introduced concerning the exemption of certain documents from production, and a third amendment was introduced allowing a tax deed to act as prima facie evidence of a sale in certain instances. Extensive discussion and testimony from the Marion County auditor, a local tax attorney, the Association of Indiana Counties, and an attorney from the probate, trust and real property section of the Indiana State Bar Association was received.  There was no vote on the second or third amendments, and the bill was held.

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 531 concerning various tax sale matters sponsored by Rep. Price. Author Sen. Head explained that it amends the tax sale statute to reflect current caselaw and makes procedural changes to make the process more efficient.  Regarding the procedural changes, the bill provides that:

  1. a purchaser of real property by an installment land contract may request notice of the tax sale list;
  2. adds an alternative provision for a county executive to transfer a tax sale property to a nonprofit entity, and for purposes of these provisions, defines the “county executive” of Marion County to mean the board of commissioners (consisting of the county auditor, county treasurer, and county assessor);
  3. a county treasurer may use money held on a person’s behalf in the tax sale surplus fund to pay property taxes and special assessments that become due during the tax sale redemption period;
  4. a court may consider a petition for a tax deed without conducting a hearing if there are not any written objections filed;
  5. the amount required for redemption of property includes all taxes, assessments, interest, and penalties that are delinquent after the sale; and,
  6. a political subdivision may conduct an electronic auction of surplus real property held by the political subdivision.

The bill also repeals the following:

  1. a provision authorizing a county to adopt an ordinance allowing a county auditor to accept a bid that is less than the minimum bid normally required by the tax sale statute;
  2. a provision requiring the State Board of Accounts to specify a form of tax deed to use when a grantee other than a purchaser takes the tax deed;
  3. several provisions that specify what action to take if the tax deed is ineffectual to convey title to tax sale property;
  4. a provision specifying how a grantee of a tax deed recovers money owed to the grantee in the context of an action to quiet title filed by the grantee; and,
  5. an obsolete provision that allowed a county to adopt an ordinance requiring the county treasurer to waive certain penalties and interest on delinquent property taxes.

The bill also makes additional conforming changes. Testimony was received supporting the bill by a representative from Synergistic Resources Integration, a company that conducts tax sales throughout the state, who explained several provisions of the bill.  The bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1015, sponsored by Sens. Merritt, Head and Broden, allowing a business entity to incorporate as a benefit corporation under Indiana law. A benefit corporation allows a company to make a profit while protecting non-profit like objectives, to promote “social entrepreneurship.” The bill passed 6-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1045, sponsored by Sen. Ford, creating recreational facility immunity. This bill specifies the duties and responsibilities of the users and the operator of a recreational facility operated by an elementary, secondary, or postsecondary educational institution. It also specifies that the operator of such a recreational facility who fulfills the operator’s duties and responsibilities has a complete defense to a civil action. The bill was amended to clarify the definition of “recreational user” and limit the immunity to those using the facility for its primary purpose. The amended bill passed 7-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1050, sponsored by Sen. Glick, on actions against a surveyor. This bill provides that an action to recover damages for a deficiency in a land survey must be brought against the surveyor not later than 10 years after the date of the survey. The bill also sets forth requirements for a notice of survey letter to an adjoining landowner. It also provides that an action for damages for a survey completed before July 1, 2015, may not be brought against a surveyor unless the action is commenced within 15 years after the date of the survey. The statute of limitations was amended for all claims to 10 years after the date of the survey. The amended bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1102, sponsored by Sen. Steele, on patent protection. This bill prohibits a person from asserting a claim of patent infringement in bad faith and provides that a court may, upon motion, require a person to post a bond if the target establishes a reasonable likelihood that the person has made an assertion of patent infringement in bad faith. It also provides that a claim of patent infringement is not made in bad faith if certain conditions apply to the person making the claim. The legislation also establishes remedies, damages, and civil penalties. The bill was amended to exempt from the provisions regarding bad faith assertions of patent infringement: (1) approved post-secondary educational institutions; (2) technology transfer organizations owned by or affiliated with approved post-secondary educational institution; and (3) licensees holding patents from postsecondary educational institutions or technology transfer organizations owned by or affiliated with postsecondary educational institutions. A representative of Purdue University testified in favor of the amendment. The bill passed 7-1.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1358, sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Broden, on garnishment of state tax refunds. This bill provides that if a debt has been reduced to a judgment in Indiana and the judgment has not been satisfied, set aside, or discharged in bankruptcy, the judgment creditor may garnish a state tax refund otherwise due to the debtor. It specifies the procedures that the judgment creditor must follow in obtaining the garnishment from the Department of State Revenue and allows a writ of garnishment to be electronically filed with the Department of State Revenue. The bill was amended to exclude from garnishment debt subject to a repayment plan if the repayment plan has not been breached. The amendment also exempts 50% of a joint tax refund from garnishment if there is no objection to the garnishment, and establishes a procedure to exclude from garnishment that portion of a tax refund attributable to a spouse of the debtor who is not obligated to pay the debt. The amended bill passed 8-0.

Civil Law

March 27, 2015 | Category: Civil

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 361 sponsored by Reps. McMillin, Steuerwald, and Delaney, concerning defense to liability concerning liquefied petroleum gas providers. Sen. Messmer, one of the authors of the bill, explained that this bill provides that the seller, supplier, handler, or transporter of liquefied petroleum gas that was used in: (1) liquefied petroleum gas equipment; or (2) a liquefied petroleum gas appliance; involved in causing bodily injury or property damage has an affirmative defense in any action brought against the seller, supplier, handler, or transporter if a person assumed the risk of causing the bodily injury or property damage because of certain actions taken by the person in altering, modifying, repairing, or using the equipment or appliance. An amendment was introduced clarifying it is the “provider” (not the seller, supplier, handler or transporter) who has the affirmative defense in an action, and the standard for altering equipment or appliances was changed from “unreasonably alters” to “materially alters.” The amendment also removes language stating that the assumption of a risk is a complete defense to certain actions against a provider of liquefied petroleum gas.  A representative from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce testified in favor of the bill. The amendment was adopted by consent and the bill passed 11-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1045, sponsored by Sen. Ford, on recreational facility immunity. This bill specifies the duties and responsibilities of the users and the operator of a recreational facility operated by an elementary, secondary, or postsecondary educational institution. Additionally, the operator of such a recreational facility who fulfills the operator’s duties and responsibilities has a complete defense to a civil action. The bill was amended to take into account the requirements of the Indiana Tort Claims Act.  A representative for Purdue University, Indiana University, and Indiana State University and a representative from the Independent Colleges of Indiana spoke in favor of the bill. The Committee expressed concern about the broad application of the bill, and held it for further amendment.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1145, sponsored by Sens. Pete Miller, Patricia Miller, and Raatz, on civil immunity for volunteer health care providers. This bill specifies criteria for civil immunity from liability for certain volunteer health care providers. It requires the professional licensing agency to establish and maintain a process for the approval of locations at which volunteer health care services may be provided, and a health care volunteer registry. This bill also provides that approval of a health care services location is valid for up to two years. Additionally, it requires a person who meets the criteria for immunity from civil liability to provide a record and results of laboratory and imaging based screenings and tests to the patient. The bill was amended to add podiatrist to the list of medical professionals covered, allow medical professionals to recommend screenings and tests, and create an electronic health care volunteer registry. A representative from the Governor’s office spoke in support of the bill stating that it is an opportunity to get medical attention to the underserved. Various representatives of medical professional organizations and medical professionals testified in support of the bill. A representative of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association testified about concerns regarding medical records. The amended bill passed 7-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1161, sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Broden, on immunity for damage caused rescuing a child. This bill grants civil immunity to a person who forcibly enters a locked motor vehicle for the purpose of rescuing a child. It does not extend civil immunity to acts involving gross negligence or willful and wanton misconduct. The bill was amended to add the requirement to contact 911 before entering the vehicle, “if practicable, or as soon as possible thereafter.” The amended bill passed 6-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1413, sponsored by Sen. Ford, on aircraft financial responsibility and liability. This bill increases the amount of financial responsibility required for the ownership, maintenance, or use of an aircraft to: (1) $100,000 for the bodily injury or death of one person; (2) $200,000 for the bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any one accident; and (3) $100,000 for damage to property in any one accident. It also provides that the owner of an aircraft who is not the pilot is not vicariously liable for damages unless the owner engages in negligent, reckless, knowing, intentional, or unlawful conduct that is the proximate cause of the damages, an agency relationship exists between the owner and the person who proximately caused the damages; or the owner’s liability is based on the doctrine of respondeat superior. The bill additionally specifies that certain provisions relating to the ownership of an aircraft are not intended to modify Indiana law on bailments or bailor liability. The definition of “operate aircraft” was technically amended by consent. The amended bill passed 7-0.

Civil Law

March 19, 2015 | Category: Civil

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 101 on religious freedom restoration. Co-sponsor Rep. McMillin offered an amendment clarifying that the bill applies only to governmental action and does not authorize a private cause of action. The amendment passed 9-3. Sponsor Rep. Wesco explained that the bill restores the strict scrutiny standard of review for governmental intrusions on an individual’s exercise of religion. A governmental entity may burden a person’s exercise of religion if the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest, and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. The bill provides a procedure for remedying a violation of this law. Extensive testimony was heard in support of and in opposition to the bill. The amended bill passed 9-4.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1413, sponsored by Sen. Ford, on aircraft financial responsibility and liability. This bill increases the amount of financial responsibility required for the ownership, maintenance, or use of an aircraft to $100,000 for the bodily injury or death of one person, $200,000 for the bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any one accident, and $100,000 for damage to property in any one accident. It also provides that the owner of an aircraft who is not the pilot is not vicariously liable for damages unless:

(1)  the owner engages in negligent, reckless, knowing, intentional, or unlawful conduct that is the proximate cause of the damages;

(2)  an agency relationship exists between the owner and the person who proximately caused the damages; or

(3)  the owner’s liability is based on the doctrine of respondeat superior.

This bill additionally specifies that certain provisions relating to the ownership of an aircraft are not intended to modify Indiana law on bailments or bailor liability. The bill was held for amendment.

Civil Law

March 13, 2015 | Category: Civil

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 306 concerning limited liability arising from trespassing, sponsored Rep. Steuerwald and Rep. Koch. Sen. Bray introduced the bill, explaining that this bill codifies current trespass liability common law. The bill establishes that a person who possesses any fee, reversionary, or easement interest in real property, including an owner, a lessee, or another lawful occupant of real property, does not owe a duty of care to a trespasser, except to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring the trespasser, after the trespasser has been discovered on the real property possessed by the person. The bill provides that the person may be subject to liability for physical injury or death to a child trespasser under certain circumstances.  Representatives from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, State Farm Insurance, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and an attorney spoke in favor of the bill. The bill passed 6-3.

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 307 concerning consumer protection, sponsored by Rep. Steuerwald. Sen. Bray introduced this bill, which amends several provisions of the senior consumer protection act (act). It amends the act as follows: (1) Expands the class of consumers covered by the act to include: (A) veterans; and (B) individuals with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, or mental impairments; in addition to senior consumers. (2) Changes the term “senior consumer” to” protected consumer” to encompass the additional consumers covered. It amends the statute concerning telephone solicitations of consumers (Indiana’s “do not call” law) to provide that a person may not provide substantial assistance or support to a telephone solicitor, a supplier, or a caller if the person knows or consciously avoids knowing that the telephone solicitor, supplier, or caller has violated the “do not call” law or the statute concerning the regulation of automatic dialing machines. Amends the statute concerning home improvement contracts to specify that: (1) an exterior home improvement includes lawn care, landscaping, snow removal, driveway sealing, tree trimming, and pest control services; and (2) a home improvement includes interior pest control services. Amends the statute concerning the regulation of automatic dialing machines to provide that the attorney general is not required to prove that a violation of the statute was knowing or intentional for a court to impose a civil penalty for the violation. Amends the statute concerning the investigation and prosecution of complaints concerning regulated occupations to add to the permissible reasons for disclosure of information concerning a complaint a disclosure that is made to a law enforcement agency that has or is reasonably believed to have jurisdiction over a person or matter involved in the complaint. Amends the law concerning the payment of funeral or burial service expenses in advance of need to provide that “contract”, for purposes of the law, includes an agreement for the issuance of a life insurance policy where: (1) the death benefit of the policy is or may be designated for use in the purchase of funeral or burial services or merchandise; and (2) the policy is intended to be an exempt resource for Medicaid qualification purposes. Provides that the issuer of a contract meeting this description is a “seller” for purposes of the law and that a contract meeting this description must satisfy certain statutory requirements.

Sen. Bray introduced an amendment addressing the provision concerning home improvement contracts, to clarify that when exterior home improvements are added as a service, a new contract does not need to be executed. Sen. Bray also introduced an amendment concerning telephone line providers of automatic dialing machines, to accept telephone providers from violation of telephone privacy laws inadvertently when dialing machines use their lines. A representative from Area 16 Agency on Aging; State Director of the AARP; Indiana Attorney General; Funeral Director Association; Indiana Lawn and Landscaping Association; and TruGreen lawn servicing support the bill as amended. A representative from the National Alliance of Life Insurance Companies addressed a provision in the bill concerning life insurance benefits for burial expenses and requested the bill be amended regarding pre-need instruments.  The bill was held.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1050, sponsored by Sen. Glick, providing that actions against a surveyor to recover damages for a deficiency in a land survey must be brought against the surveyor not later than 10 years after the date of the survey. This bill requires notice of survey letter to an adjoining landowner. It provides that an action for damages for a survey completed before July 1, 2015, may not be brought against a surveyor unless the action is commenced within 15 years after the date of the survey. Indiana Society of Land Surveyors testified in support of the bill. The bill was held for amendment.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1102, sponsored by Sen. Steele, on patent protection. This bill prohibits a person from asserting a claim of patent infringement in bad faith. It provides that a court may, upon motion, require a person to post a bond if the target establishes a reasonable likelihood that the person has made an assertion of patent infringement in bad faith. It also provides that a claim of patent infringement is not made in bad faith if certain conditions apply to the person making the claim. After testimony from representatives from Indiana University Intellectual Property Research and Technology and Purdue University requesting amendment, the bill was held for amendment.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1358, sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Broden, on the garnishment of state tax refunds. Author Rep. Cox explained that the bill provides that if a debt has been reduced to a judgment in Indiana and the judgment has not been satisfied, set aside, or discharged in bankruptcy, the judgment creditor may garnish a state tax refund otherwise due to the debtor. It also specifies the procedures that the judgment creditor must follow in obtaining the garnishment from the Department of State Revenue. The bill allows a writ of garnishment to be electronically filed with the Department of State Revenue. After hearing testimony expressing some concerns, the Committee held the bill for amendment.

Civil Law

February 27, 2015 | Category: Civil

Bill No. Bill Title Committee 2nd Reading 3rd Reading Sponsor(s)
SB 2 Service of process 1/22/15 Do Pass –A 1/26/15 Engrossed 1/27/15 Passed 48-0 Mayfield, Cox
SB 38 Application of foreign law 1/22/15 Do Pass –A 1/26/15 Engrossed 1/29/15 Passed 43-4 Steuerwald
SB 98 Lawsuits against gun manufacturers 2/5/15 Do Pass –A; 2/12/15 Do Pass 2/16/15 Engrossed; 2/19/15 Engrossed -A 2/23/14 Passed 37-11 Smaltz
SB 127 Religious exemption in state and local contracts 1/27/15 Do Pass –A 2/2/15 Engrossed 2/3/15 Passed 39-11 Mahan
SB 133 Protective orders and employment 2/5/15 Do Pass –A 2/12/15 Engrossed –A 2/16/15 Passed 31-19 Brown, C.
SB 172 Uniform Voidable Transactions Act 2/9/15 Do Pass –A 2/12/15 Engrossed 2/17/15 Passed 50-0 Washburne
SB 211 Debt collection 1/27/15 Do Pass –A 1/29/15 Engrossed 2/5/15 Passed 47-1 Frizzell
SB 282 Unclaimed property act and savings bonds 1/27/15 Do Pass 1/29/15 Engrossed 2/2/15 Passed 43-1 Wesco, Lucas
SB 306 Limited liability arising from trespassing 2/10/15 Do Pass –A 2/12/15 Engrossed 2/17/15 Passed 50-0 Steuerwald, Koch
SB 354 Judgments 1/22/15 Do Pass –A 1/26/15 Engrossed 1/27/15 Passed 49-0 Richardson, Young, M.
SB 361 Defense to liability concerning liquified petroleum gas providers 2/3/15 Do Pass 2/5/15 Engrossed –A 2/9/15 Passed 48-1 McMillin, Steuerwald
SB 373 Funding of lawsuits 2/9/15 Do Pass –A 2/17/15 Engrossed –A;

2/19/15 Engrossed –A

2/23/15 Passed 47-2 No sponsor yet.
SB 394 Reporting of government malfeasance 2/12/15 Do Pass –A 2/16/15 Engrossed 2/17/15 Passed 50-0 McMillin, Soliday
SB 411 Liability of a real estate licensee 2/17/15 Do Pass 2/19/15 Engrossed 2/23/15 Passed 47-2 McNamara
SB 524 Tax deeds and conveyance documents 2/3/15 Do Pass –A 2/9/15 Engrossed –A 2/10/15 Passed 50-0 Steuerwald
HB 1045 Recreational facility immunity 1/27/15 Do Pass –A 2/2/15 Engrossed –A 2/3/15 Passed 80-16 Ford
HB 1050 Actions against a surveyor 1/13/15 Do Pass 1/15/15 Engrossed 1/20/15 Passed 88-7 Glick
HB 1102 Patent protection 2/10/15 Do Pass –A 2/12/15 Engrossed 2/16/15 Passed 95-1 Steele
HB 1141 Judgment dockets 1/22/15 Do Pass 1/26/15 Engrossed 1/27/15 Passed 98-0 Steele
HB 1145 Civil immunity for volunteer health care providers 2/17/15 Do Pass –A 2/23/15 Engrossed –A 2/24/15 Passed 91-0 Raatz, Miller, Pat,
HB 1161 Immunity for damage caused rescuing a child 2/17/15 Do Pass –A 2/19/15 Engrossed 2/23/15 Passed 96-0 Steele, Broden
HB 1358 Garnishment of state tax refunds 2/3/15 Do Pass –A 2/5/15 Engrossed 2/9/15 Passed 95-3 Steele, Broden
HB 1405 State examiner, attorney general, and prosecuting attorneys 2/19/15 Do Pass –A 2/23/15 Engrossed 2/25/15 Passed 63-29 Niemeyer
HB 1456 Servicemembers civil relief act 1/27/15 Do Pass –A 1/29/15 Engrossed –A 2/2/15 Passed 94-0 Glick, Banks
HB 1469 Wage payment and wage assignment 2/3/15 Do Pass –A 2/5/15 Engrossed 2/9/15 Passed 69-29 Boots

Civil Law

February 20, 2015 | Category: Civil

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard Sen. Merritt’s SB 411 on liability of a real estate licensee. This bill provides that a licensed real estate broker is not liable for certain real estate related reports, statements, or information except in certain circumstances. This bill also adds a reference to the list of statutes that grant immunity from civil liability. A representative of the Indiana Association of Realtors testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 9-0.

The House Judiciary heard HB 1043 concerning medical malpractice caps, authored by Rep. Torr. This bill increases the medical malpractice cap from $1,250,000 to $1,650,000 for claims arising after June 30, 2015. The bill also increases the maximum amount of liability for a health care provider or a health care provider’s insurer from $250,000 to $300,000. Rep. Torr introduced an amendment providing that payments from the patient’s compensation fund are to be disbursed not later than 60 days after the issuance of a final, non-appealable judgment (as opposed to quarterly, as originally in the bill).  Another amendment was also introduced increasing the pay for medical review panel members from $350 to $500, and also increasing the potential pay for the medical review panel chairperson from $2,000 to $2,500. It also adjusted the liability provisions so that the maximum potential liability of a qualified health care provider for an occurrence of malpractice increases from $250,000 to: (1) $300,000; or (2) $400,000 if the action against the health care provider results in a final judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The amendment additionally eliminates provisions under which the liability of a qualified health care provider or the qualified healthcare provider’s insurer could be discharged through a periodic payments agreement under which the cost borne by the qualified healthcare provider or the qualified health care provider’s insurer (consisting of the present payment and the cost of future payments) could be less than the cost of discharging the liability solely through an immediate payment. After both amendments were introduced, testimony was received against the amendments from the general counsel of the Indiana Department of Insurance; the general counsel of the Indiana State Medical Association; the President of the Indiana State Medical Association; a representative of the Indiana Society of Anesthesiologists; a representative of the Indiana Osteopathic Association; and, a representative of the Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers. Testimony in support of the bill was received by Indiana Hospital Association and neutral support was noted by representatives of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Health Care Association. The amendments were adopted by consent and the bill passed 9-2.

The House Judiciary heard HB 1145 concerning civil immunity for volunteer health care providers, authored and presented by Rep. Frizzell. The bill provides civil immunity for volunteer health providers – defined as dentists, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, or an advanced nurse practitioner, who provide non-invasive health procedures.  The bill also requires the professional licensing agency to establish and maintain a registry to approve locations where volunteer health care services may be provided, and a health care volunteer registry.  An amendment was introduced specifying that immunity would not apply to a healthcare facility that receives federal funding. The amendment was adopted by consent.  Testimony in support of the bill was received by a representative of the Indiana Minority Health Coalition; a senior advisor from Governor Pence’s Administration; a physician representing Riley Children’s Hospital and Timmy Global Health; and a physician from St. Francis Hospital.  The amended bill passed 10-0.

The House Judiciary heard HB 1161 concerning immunity for damage caused rescuing a child, authored and presented by Rep. GiaQuinta. The bill provides that if a child is in imminent danger of harm, a person who forcibly enters a locked motor vehicle for the purpose of rescuing the child is granted civil immunity. The bill does not extend civil immunity to acts involving gross negligence or willful and wanton misconduct. An amendment, adopted by consent, removes written notice requirements to the owner of the vehicle. The amended bill passed 11-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1405, authored by Rep. Slager and Rep. Fine, providing concurrent jurisdiction of the attorney general with a prosecuting attorney for certain actions in which a public officer or public servant is accused. The bill was amended to limit the bill’s application to civil actions. The amended bill passed 8-1.

Civil Law

February 13, 2015 | Category: Civil

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard Sen. Tomes’ SB 98 on lawsuits against gun manufacturers. This bill prohibits a person from bringing or maintaining certain actions against a firearms manufacturer, ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or seller, and makes the prohibition retroactive. After receiving testimony, the bill passed 7-1.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard Sen. Bray’s SB 172, enacting the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act. This bill governs the ability of a creditor to nullify certain transfers made by a debtor. The Committee adopted an amendment that does not change the effect of the bill, but amends current law instead of adding a new section of law. A representative of the Uniform Law Commission testified in favor of the bill. The amended bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard SB 306, authored by Sen. Bray and Sen. Head, on limited liability arising from  trespassing. This bill provides that a person who possesses any fee, reversionary, or easement interest in real property, including an owner, a lessee, or another lawful occupant of real property, does not owe a duty of care to a trespasser, except to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring the trespasser, after the trespasser has been discovered, or an undiscovered trespasser; on the real property possessed by the person. It also provides that a person who possesses real property may be subject to liability for bodily injury to or the death of a trespasser who is a child under certain circumstances. The bill was amended to codify current case law.  Representatives from State Farm, Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Apartment Association, Indiana Manufacturers Association, Indiana Railway Association, among others, supported the bill. The amended bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard Sen. Head’s SB 373 on funding of lawsuits. This bill establishes a procedure by which a company may provide funding to the plaintiff in an action in exchange for the contingent right to receive a part of the potential proceeds of the action. It also requires a company that offers funding to plaintiffs to register with the Secretary of State. Representatives from the Oasis Legal Finance and American Legal Finance Association, suppliers of this type of funding, testified in support of the bill. A representative of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform made suggestions to make the bill more stringent. Indiana Chamber of Commerce testified that they would like to see more regulation, but would like the bill to move forward. The bill was amended by consent to exclude civil justice funding from the balloon payment provision. The amended bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard Sen. Charbonneau’s SB 394 on reporting of government malfeasance. This bill provides for confidentiality and relief for an individual who reports certain suspected violations of law by public officers. The bill was amended to exempt state employees and state agencies. Representatives of Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, Association of Indiana Counties, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, among others, testified in favor of the bill. The amended bill passed 9-0.

The House Judiciary Committee also heard Rep. Koch’s HB 1102 concerning patent protection. The bill addresses bad faith demand letters asserting claims of patent infringement, commonly known as “patent troll activity”. The bill provides for the Attorney General or private action to address bad faith claim letters, enforcement and remedies, and factors the court should consider in evaluating whether the claim letter is made in bad faith. The bill also provides for a bond to be posted if the court finds a reasonable likelihood that an asserted claim has been made in bad faith in violation of this chapter. An amendment was adopted by consent that would define “end user,” and adds a licensee holding a patent from an approved postsecondary educational institution and additional factors to consider when a claim of patent infringement is not made in bad faith. Representatives from the Indiana Bankers Association, Indiana Builders Association, the Manufacturing Association, and Indiana University testified in support of the legislation. The bill passed 8-1.

Civil Law

February 6, 2015 | Category: Civil

The Senate Labor and Pensions Committee heard Sen. Randolph’s SB 133, on protective orders and employment, providing that an employer cannot deny unemployment benefits based on the filing of a protection order. Section 1 was deleted by a voice vote of the committee. The second section of the bill passed, prohibiting an employer from discriminating against an employee, including termination of employment, based on the filing of a protection order. The legislation permits an employee who was discriminated against in violation of this statute to bring a civil action against the employer. A representative of the AFL-CIO supported the bill as amended as did the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  The Indiana Manufacturer’s Association objected to the new private cause of action created in the legislation, as did the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The bill passed as amended, 7-4.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard Sen. Messmer’s SB 361, on defense to liability concerning propane suppliers. This bill provides that the seller, supplier, handler, or transporter of liquefied petroleum gas that was used in liquefied petroleum gas equipment or a liquefied petroleum gas appliance, involved in causing bodily injury or property damage has an assumed risk affirmative defense. The bill passed 5-1.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard Sen. Zakas’ SB 524 on tax deeds and conveyance documents. A representative of the Indiana Land Title Association explained that this bill provides that when a county auditor sends out certain notices for a tax sale by certified mail, the notices must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. It also requires that a verified petition for a tax deed to real property acquired in a tax sale must include copies of various notices sent by the petitioner, copies of certified mail receipts, copies of certified mail return receipts, and evidence used by the petitioner to ascertain the owner of property and any other persons with a substantial property interest of public record in the property. This bill provides that a tax deed is not prima facie evidence of the validity of a tax sale, if the petitioner for the tax deed fails to include with the petition the copies of notices, copies of mailing receipts, and copies or descriptions of the evidence used to ascertain the owner and other persons having a substantial property interest of public record in the property. Provides that a mortgage that does not comply with certain filing requirements is validly recorded, regardless of when the mortgage is recorded. Representatives from the Probate, Trust, Real Property Division of the Indiana State Bar Association and from Indiana Land Title Association testified in favor of the bill. A technical amendment was adopted by consent. The amended bill passed 8-0.

The House Judiciary heard HB 1358, concerning garnishment of tax refunds, authored by Reps. Cox, Steurwald, DeLaney, and Dermody. This legislation provides that if a debt has been reduced to a judgment in Indiana and the judgment has not been satisfied, set aside, or discharged in bankruptcy, the judgment creditor may garnish a state tax refund otherwise due to the debtor. Further, it specifies the procedures that the judgment creditor must follow in obtaining the garnishment from the Department of State Revenue, and allows a writ of garnishment to be electronically filed with the Department of State Revenue. A representative from the United Way wanted to ensure the bill follows the Fair Debt Collection Act provisions, and a representative from the creditors bar testified in support of the bill.  Rep. Cox introduced an amendment requiring the writ of notice to be electronically sent to the Department of State Revenue. The amendment was adopted by consent, and the bill passed 7-0.

The House Judiciary heard HB 1469 concerning wage payment and wage assignment, authored by Rep. Ober. This bill provides that an employer who fails to make timely payment of wages or withholds wages in bad faith, may, in addition to the wages due, pay liquidated damages, court costs, and a reasonable fee for the employee’s attorney. It provides that an employee may assign wages for: (1) the purchase, rental, or use of uniforms or equipment necessary to fulfill the duties of employment; (2) reimbursement for education or employee skills training; (3) an advance for payroll or vacation pay; and (4) meals eaten by the employee at a location provided by the employer. Rep. Ober introduced an amendment addressing when an employer fails to make payment of wages in bad faith, the employer is liable for triple damages, and a establishing wage assignment cap of $2,500 for uniform purchases. The amendment passed by consent and the bill passed 6-1.

Civil Law

January 30, 2015 | Category: Civil

The Civil Law Committee heard SB 127 authored by Sen. Holdman on religious exemption in state and local contracts. The bill provides that any state and local contract with a religious-based organization executed after June 30, 2015, must include a provision authorizing the religious-based organization to give employment preference to individuals of a particular religion or to require all employees or applicants to conform with the organization’s religious tenets to the extent authorized under Title VII the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An amendment was adopted by consent making the bill requirements applicable to contracts with foreign corporations. The Indiana Catholic Conference testified in support of the bill. The amended bill passed 7-0.

The Civil Law Committee heard SB 211 authored by Sen. Patricia Miller on debt collection. The bill was prepared at the request of Attorney General Zoeller amending the deceptive consumer sales statutes to further consumer protection efforts. A representative from the Office of the Attorney General testified that the bill (1) defines “debt buyer;” (2) enhances the debt collector’s required disclosures to the debtor; and (3) raises the penalties for abusive collection practices to authorize a maximum of $25,000 for each violation (maximum penalty per violation per consumer remains $1,000). An amendment was adopted by consent clarifying the required disclosure provisions. The Indiana Association for Community Economic Development and the Indiana Banker’s Association testified in support of the bill. The Indiana Creditors Bar Association and the Indiana Collectors Association testified in opposition to the bill. The amended bill passed 8-0.

The Civil Law Committee heard SB 282 pertaining to unclaimed property and savings bonds authored by Sen. Walker. A representative of the Attorney General’s Office summarized the bill. The bill authorizes the Attorney General to process unclaimed savings bonds held for more than 20 years as unclaimed property. The bill also authorizes the Attorney General to claim unclaimed savings bonds held by the federal government if the bond was purchased in Indiana or held by an Indiana resident. The bill passed 8-0.

The Civil Law Committee heard SB 524 authored by Sen. Zakas on tax deeds and conveyance documents. This bill makes various changes to property tax statutes when real property is sold because of delinquent taxes. The bill requires certain notices involving tax sales to be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. The bill also requires petitions for tax deeds to be verified by attaching documentation of all the petitioner’s efforts to send the statutorily required notices. Finally, the bill makes the safe harbor provision for technical deficiencies in mortgage deeds applicable regardless of when the deed was filed (current law applies the safe harbor provision only to deeds filed in 2007 and 2008). The bill was held for further review.

The House Judiciary Committee heard HB 1045, concerning recreational facility immunity. Author Rep. Morrison introduced this legislation, explaining that it applies to postsecondary educational institutions and specifies the duties and responsibilities of the users and operators of their recreational facilities. The bill establishes a complete defense to a civil action for operators who comply with those duties and responsibilities. He explained several of the new rules regarding posting signage for communicating rules at the facilities for users, as well as expectations of operators regarding maintenance and code compliance. Testifying in favor of the bill were representatives from: Independent Colleges of Indiana; Indiana State University; and, the Insurance Institute of Indiana. An amendment was introduced deleting the requirement that a supervisor must be on duty for every 175 users, and requiring only a supervisor be on duty when the facility is open. The amendment was adopted by consent, and the bill passed as amended 11-0.

The House Judiciary Committee heard HB 1456, establishing the servicemembers civil relief act, authored by Reps. Zent, Moseley, and Carbaugh. The Indiana SCRA supplements protections for servicemembers provided for under the federal SCRA. Generally, the Indiana SCRA provides servicemembers rights and protections regarding consumer transactions, contracts, and contracts with specific service providers (such as internet servicers, satellite radio services, and television services). Rep. Zent introduced an amendment addressing concerns expressed after last week’s testimony on the bill, and to ensure they duplicated the protections of existing federal law as much as possible. The amendment requires the Indiana National Guard to provide a list on its internet site that is searchable to determine whether an individual is on active duty for at least 30 days, as required by state law. It also requires the Guard to provide eligible members and dependents a list of state and federal rights they have under the servicemember civil relief acts. The amendment also provides that the Office of the Attorney General may bring a civil action against a person who knowingly and intentionally violates a provision of the act. Testimony was received in favor of the bill by the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. The amendment was adopted by consent, and the bill passed as amended 10-0.