53959-1:n:03/17/2003:JRC/tnh LRS2003-1445




HB408
By Representatives Thigpen, McDaniel, Vance, Gipson, Boothe, Beck, Faust, Johnson, Clouse, Carothers, Bentley, Hurst, McMillan, Love, Allen, Hinshaw and McClurkin
RFD Judiciary
Rd 1 12-FEB-04


SYNOPSIS:This bill would: Establish standards for the recovery of damages for emotional distress and mental anguish in cases not involving physical injury; require proof of treatment of the claimant for the emotional distress or mental anguish as a condition to recovery of any damages therefor; limit the recovery of damages for emotional distress or mental anguish in cases not involving physical injury in an amount not to exceed three times the amount of economic damages awarded to the claimant; and further limit recovery of these damages to the types of civil actions in which they are currently authorized to be recovered.

A BILL
TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT

Relating to the recovery of damages in cases not involving physical injury for emotional distress and mental anguish; to limit the recovery of such damages to an amount equal to three times the award of economic damages recovered by the claimant; to limit the recovery of these damages to civil actions of the type in which these damages are currently authorized to be recovered; and to require proof of treatment of the claimant for the emotional distress or mental anguish as a condition to recovery of any damages therefor.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. (a) For purposes of this act the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(1) ECONOMIC DAMAGES. The actual, out-of-pocket monetary loss of an injured party pursuant to a civil action and does not include recovery for pain, suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of consortium or society, injury to reputation, inconvenience, or any other non-pecuniary damages or intangible loss.

(2) PHYSICAL INJURY. Actual injury to the body of a claimant in a civil action proximately caused by the act complained of and does not include physical symptoms of the mental anguish or emotional distress for which recovery is sought when such symptoms are caused by, rather than the cause of, the pain, distress, or other mental suffering.

Section 2. In civil actions authorized by law on the effective date of this act that do not involve physical injury, damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering, mental anguish, mental distress, and non-pecuniary, non-economic damages based on the mental or emotional state of the claimant shall be recoverable only as follows:

(1) A claimant meets the burden of proving liability upon proof that the claimant has been treated for the alleged emotional or mental condition by a professional provider of mental health services licensed to provide the services or by the physician who treats the claimant.

(2) Damages must range in an amount from zero to an amount not to exceed three times the award of economic damages made to that claimant.

Section 3. Nothing contained in this act shall be construed to grant or create a cause of action or to grant or create a right to any form of damages. Nothing contained in this act shall be construed to allow a cause of action or an award of damages against a governmental entity as defined in Section 11-93-1, Code of Alabama 1975, except as otherwise authorized by law.

Section 4. This act shall apply only to causes of action arising after the effective date of this act.

Section 5. This act shall become effective immediately upon its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.


Civil Procedure
Damages
Emotional Distress
Mental Anguish