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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

HF 2553

1st Unofficial Engrossment - 85th Legislature (2007 - 2008) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
1.1A bill for an act
1.2relating to transportation; providing an alternative compensation and settlement
1.3process for victims of the I-35W bridge collapse; changing the effective date of
1.4an increase in individual damage caps for state tort claims; appropriating money;
1.5amending Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 3.736, subdivision 4.
1.6BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

1.7ARTICLE 1
1.8STATE TORT CLAIMS

1.9    Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 3.736, subdivision 4, is amended to read:
1.10    Subd. 4. Limits. The total liability of the state and its employees acting within the
1.11scope of their employment on any tort claim shall not exceed:
1.12    (a) $300,000 when the claim is one for death by wrongful act or omission and
1.13$300,000 to any claimant in any other case, for claims arising before January August
1.141, 2008 2007;
1.15    (b) $400,000 when the claim is one for death by wrongful act or omission and
1.16$400,000 to any claimant in any other case, for claims arising on or after January August
1.171, 2008 2007, and before July 1, 2009;
1.18    (c) $500,000 when the claim is one for death by wrongful act or omission and
1.19$500,000 to any claimant in any other case, for claims arising on or after July 1, 2009;
1.20    (d) $750,000 for any number of claims arising out of a single occurrence, for claims
1.21arising on or after January 1, 1998, and before January 1, 2000;
1.22    (e) $1,000,000 for any number of claims arising out of a single occurrence, for
1.23claims arising on or after January 1, 2000, and before January 1, 2008;
2.1    (f) $1,200,000 for any number of claims arising out of a single occurrence, for
2.2claims arising on or after January 1, 2008, and before July 1, 2009; or
2.3    (g) $1,500,000 for any number of claims arising out of a single occurrence, for
2.4claims arising on or after July 1, 2009.
2.5    If the amount awarded to or settled upon multiple claimants exceeds the applicable
2.6limit under clause (d), (e), (f), or (g), any party may apply to the district court to apportion
2.7to each claimant a proper share of the amount available under the applicable limit under
2.8clause (d), (e), (f), or (g). The share apportioned to each claimant shall be in the proportion
2.9that the ratio of the award or settlement bears to the aggregate awards and settlements for
2.10all claims arising out of the occurrence.
2.11    The limitation imposed by this subdivision on individual claimants includes damages
2.12claimed for loss of services or loss of support arising out of the same tort.
2.13EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective retroactively from August 1, 2007.

2.14ARTICLE 2
2.15I-35W BRIDGE COLLAPSE

2.16    Section 1. COMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS OF I-35W BRIDGE COLLAPSE.
2.17    Subdivision 1. Findings. (a) The legislature finds that the collapse of the Interstate
2.18Highway 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis on August 1, 2007,
2.19was a catastrophe of historic proportions. The bridge was the third-busiest in the state,
2.20carrying over 140,000 cars per day. Its collapse killed 13 people and injured more than
2.21100. No other state-owned structure has ever fallen with such devastating physical and
2.22psychological impact on so many.
2.23    (b) The establishment of a compensation process for victims of the bridge collapse
2.24furthers the public interest by providing a remedy for victims while avoiding the
2.25uncertainty and expense of potentially complex and protracted litigation to resolve the
2.26issue of the liability of the state, a municipality, or their employees for damages incurred
2.27by victims.
2.28    (c) These findings are not an admission of liability of the state, a municipality, or
2.29their employees for damages caused by the bride collapse.
2.30    Subd. 2. Definitions. For purposes of this article:
2.31    (a) "Damages" means damages that are compensable under state tort law and
2.32damages for wrongful death that are compensable under Minnesota Statutes, section
2.33573.02. Damages do not include punitive damages or attorney fees or other fees incurred
2.34by a victim in making a claim under this section or other law.
3.1    (b) "Emergency relief fund" means the I-35W bridge emergency relief fund created
3.2by the state on November 30, 2007.
3.3    (c) "Municipality" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 466.01.
3.4    (d) "Panel" means the special master panel created under subdivision 3.
3.5    (e) "State" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 3.732.
3.6    (f) "Victim" means a natural person who was present on the I-35W bridge at the
3.7time of the collapse. Victim also includes:
3.8    (1) the parent or legal guardian of a victim who is under 18 years of age;
3.9    (2) a legally appointed representative of a victim; or
3.10    (3) the surviving spouse or next of kin of a victim who would be entitled to bring an
3.11action under Minnesota Statutes, section 573.02.
3.12    Subd. 3. Special master panel; administration. (a) The chief justice of the
3.13Supreme Court shall establish a special master panel to consider claims, make offers of
3.14settlement, and enter into settlement agreements with victims on behalf of the state. The
3.15panel must consist of three attorneys, at least one of whom must be a retired judge of the
3.16appellate or district courts of this state. Nonjudicial members of the panel must have
3.17experience in legal issues involving the settlement of tort claims and the determination of
3.18damages. The chief justice shall designate a member of the panel who is a retired judge
3.19to serve as chair of the panel. The chief justice shall determine the pay and expenses to
3.20be received by the panel.
3.21    (b) Within the limits of available appropriations, the state court administrator, in
3.22consultation with the panel, shall hire employees or retain consultants necessary to assist
3.23the panel in performing its duties under this section. Employees are in the unclassified
3.24state civil service. The panel may also use current state employees or consultants who are
3.25under a contract with the state to assist the panel in processing claims under this section.
3.26    (c) The panel may adopt procedures, rules, and forms for considering claims, making
3.27offers of settlement, and entering into settlement agreements.
3.28    (d) The state court administrator shall forward documentation of salaries, expenses,
3.29and administrative costs under this subdivision to the commissioner of finance for
3.30payment of those amounts.
3.31    (e) Members of the panel and employees and consultants acting under the direction
3.32of the panel are absolutely immune from civil liability for any act or omission occurring
3.33within the scope of the performance of their duties under this section.
3.34    Subd. 4. Claims; consideration, settlement, and payment. (a) The panel shall
3.35consider claims, make offers of settlement, and enter into settlement agreements with
3.36victims as provided in this section. In order to be eligible to receive an offer of settlement
4.1or enter into a settlement agreement under this section, a victim must file a claim with the
4.2panel by October 1, 2008. Any offer of settlement must be made by April 1, 2009.
4.3    (b) The amount of an offer of settlement under this section must be based on the
4.4total damages incurred by the victim, less:
4.5    (1) a collateral source reduction calculated in the manner provided for in Minnesota
4.6Statutes, section 548.36;
4.7    (2) any payment made to the victim from the emergency relief fund; and
4.8    (3) any payments made or required to be made to the victim by a third-party
4.9tortfeasor under the terms of an existing settlement or other agreement with the victim
4.10or a final judgment in favor of the victim concerning claims of the victim that relate to,
4.11involve, or arise out of the bridge collapse.
4.12    The amount of an offer of settlement or payment required by a settlement agreement
4.13must not exceed $400,000 per victim. Notwithstanding Minnesota Statutes, section 3.736,
4.14subdivision 4, clause (e), there is no limit on the total amount of payments made to all
4.15victims under this section, subject to the availability of appropriations for this purpose.
4.16    (c) A victim who accepts an offer of settlement from the panel must agree in writing
4.17and in a form developed by the panel to release the state and every municipality of this
4.18state and their employees from liability for damages arising from the bridge collapse and
4.19to cooperate with the state in pursuing claims the state may have against any other party.
4.20The panel shall consult with the attorney general in preparing the form. Execution of the
4.21release by the victim extinguishes any claim against or liability of the state, a municipality,
4.22and their employees for damages asserted by a spouse or other family member of a victim
4.23based on payments made or services provided to or on behalf of the victim for damages or
4.24injury that relates to, involves, or arises out of the bridge collapse. The release must also
4.25provide that the victim will indemnify the state, a municipality, and their employees for
4.26any claim of contribution or indemnity, or both, made by other persons against the state, a
4.27municipality, and their employees and the release will satisfy any judgment obtained by
4.28the victim in an action against other persons to the extent of the release, if the claim or
4.29judgment relates in any way to a claim of the victim arising from the bridge collapse. The
4.30release must provide for the subrogation interest of the state under section 2, subdivision 5.
4.31    (d) The panel shall promptly forward to the commissioner of finance documentation
4.32of each settlement agreement that has been entered into under this section. The
4.33commissioner of finance shall pay the agreed amount within 30 days after receiving the
4.34documentation and in the order in which the documentation from the panel was received.
5.1    Subd. 5. Effect and finality of offers and settlement agreements. (a) An offer
5.2of settlement made to a victim under this section is considered for all purposes to be an
5.3offer to the victim to settle a legal claim.
5.4    (b) A determination by the panel regarding an offer of settlement or settlement
5.5agreement is final and not subject to judicial review.
5.6    Subd. 6. Records. Records of the panel related to a claim filed by a victim, an
5.7offer of settlement, or an acceptance or rejection of an offer are not accessible to the
5.8public except for:
5.9    (1) the name of the victim; and
5.10    (2) the terms of any written settlement agreement between the victim and the state.
5.11    Subd. 7. Election to proceed in district court. (a) A victim may elect not to file
5.12a claim with the panel or not to accept an offer of settlement from the panel. A victim
5.13who elects not to file a claim with the panel or not to accept an offer of settlement has not
5.14waived any legal rights that may be asserted against the state or a municipality or their
5.15employees and may proceed with a claim in district court.
5.16    (b) If a victim elects not to accept an offer of settlement, the state or a municipality or
5.17their employees may not use any data provided by the victim to the panel in a subsequent
5.18legal proceeding. The state or a municipality or their employees may obtain information,
5.19including data provided to the panel, through discovery or other legal processes.
5.20EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment.

5.21    Sec. 2. EFFECT OF SPECIAL COMPENSATION PROCESS; RELATIONSHIP
5.22TO OTHER LAW.
5.23    Subdivision 1. No state liability or duty created. The establishment of the special
5.24compensation process under section 1 and the emergency relief fund, and an offer of
5.25settlement or a settlement agreement, is not an admission of liability by the state or a
5.26municipality or their employees and does not establish a duty of the state, a municipality,
5.27or their employees to compensate victims. The creation and funding of the compensation
5.28process under this act or an offer of settlement or settlement agreement is not admissible
5.29in a judicial or administrative proceeding to establish liability or a legal duty.
5.30    Subd. 2. Payments as additional compensation. Payments made under section 1
5.31or from the emergency relief fund are intended to supplement and be in addition to any
5.32payments required to be made by a third party under law or contract. Payments made
5.33under section 1 or from the emergency relief fund are not a collateral source for purposes
5.34of Minnesota Statutes, section 62A.096 or 548.36 or other law providing for the reduction
5.35of a damage award or the amount of benefits recoverable by a victim from a third party.
6.1    Subd. 3. Payments from other sources. A person required to make payments,
6.2including future payments, to a victim may not eliminate or reduce those payments as a
6.3result of compensation paid to the victim under section 1 or from the emergency relief
6.4fund or as a result of the victim's release of claims against the state, a municipality, or their
6.5employees under section 1. The obligation of any person other than the state to make
6.6payments to a victim is primary as compared to any payment made or to be made under
6.7section 1 or from the emergency relief fund. The persons referenced in and covered by
6.8this subdivision and subdivision 4 include, without limitation:
6.9    (1) reparation obligors, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 65B.43, subdivision
6.109, whether they are insurers or self-insurers;
6.11    (2) health plan companies, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 62Q.01,
6.12subdivision 4, including the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association created under
6.13Minnesota Statutes, section 62E.10;
6.14    (3) insurance companies, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 60A.02,
6.15subdivision 4;
6.16    (4) self-insured pools of political subdivisions organized under Minnesota Statutes,
6.17section 471.617 or 471.981, including service cooperatives pools organized under
6.18Minnesota Statutes, section 123A.21;
6.19    (5) risk retention groups, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 60E.02,
6.20subdivision 12;
6.21    (6) joint self-insurance plans governed by Minnesota Statutes, chapter 60F;
6.22    (7) workers' compensation insurers and private self-insurers, as defined in Minnesota
6.23Statutes, section 79.01;
6.24    (8) the Minnesota Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association governed by
6.25Minnesota Statutes, chapter 61B;
6.26    (9) the Minnesota Insurance Guaranty Association governed by Minnesota Statutes,
6.27chapter 60C;
6.28    (10) the Minnesota Joint Underwriting Association governed by Minnesota Statutes,
6.29chapter 62I;
6.30    (11) all insurers providing credit life, credit accident and health, and credit
6.31involuntary unemployment insurance under Minnesota Statutes, chapter 62B, but also
6.32including those coverages written in connection with real estate mortgage loans and those
6.33provided to borrowers at no additional cost;
6.34    (12) the Minnesota unemployment insurance program provided under Minnesota
6.35Statutes, chapter 268;
7.1    (13) coverage offered by the state under medical assistance, general assistance
7.2medical care, and MinnesotaCare; and
7.3    (14) any other plan providing health, life, disability income, or long-term care
7.4coverage.
7.5    Subd. 4. No third-party subrogation or recovery. (a) A person who has paid
7.6benefits or compensation to or on behalf of a victim does not have a subrogation or other
7.7right to recover those benefits or compensation by making a claim, or recovering from
7.8payments made, under section 1 or from the emergency relief fund.
7.9    (b) Following a settlement agreement under section 1, any person claiming a
7.10subrogation interest against the amount to be paid by the state has 60 days in which to
7.11provide notice to the state and the victim of its intent to assert its interest, during which
7.12time the commissioner of finance must not make the payment. The subrogation claim
7.13is waived if the notice is not provided by the deadline. If no notice is received by the
7.14deadline, the commissioner of finance shall make the payment. If a notice of claim is
7.15received, the funds shall remain in escrow until resolution of the subrogation issue. Any
7.16payment to a victim against which a subrogation claim is successfully asserted shall
7.17immediately revert to the state, for further deliberation as to the manner in which to
7.18distribute the payment to the victim.
7.19    Subd. 5. Reimbursement of state; right of subrogation. (a) The state is entitled
7.20to recover from any third party, including an agent, contractor, or vendor retained by
7.21the state, for payments made from the emergency relief fund or under section 1 to the
7.22extent the third party caused or contributed to the bridge collapse. The state may seek
7.23reimbursement from, or assert subrogation rights against, a victim only to the extent that
7.24total payments received by the victim from the emergency relief fund and under section
7.251 and from third parties for damages that relate to, involve, or arise out of the bridge
7.26collapse, exceed the total damages incurred by the victim as determined by the panel
7.27under section 1, subdivision 4.
7.28    (b) The state is subrogated to all potential claims against third-party tortfeasors of
7.29a victim receiving payment from the emergency relief fund or under section 1 to the
7.30extent the claims relate to, involve, or arise out of the bridge collapse. The subrogation
7.31right of the state under this subdivision is limited to the amount paid to the victim from the
7.32emergency relief fund and under section 1. The rights of the state under this subdivision
7.33are in addition to other remedies, claims, and rights relating to the bridge collapse that the
7.34state may have against other persons for the recovery of money or to obtain other relief.
7.35    Subd. 6. Amounts not considered for purposes of limit on government tort
7.36liability. Payments made to victims under section 1 or from the emergency relief fund
8.1are not to be considered in calculating the limit on tort claims in civil actions against the
8.2state arising out of the bridge collapse for purposes of Minnesota Statutes, section 3.736,
8.3subdivision 4, clause (e), or a municipality arising out of the bridge collapse for purposes
8.4of Minnesota Statutes, section 466.04, subdivision 1, clause (5).
8.5EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment.

8.6    Sec. 3. APPROPRIATIONS.
8.7    (a) $25,000,000 is appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of
8.8finance to make payments under settlement agreements entered into by the panel under
8.9section 1. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2010. The legislature intends to
8.10fully fund the settlement agreements. If it appears to the commissioner of finance that
8.11this appropriation may be insufficient to pay all agreed upon settlement amounts, the
8.12commissioner shall promptly report to the chairs of the senate Committee on Finance and
8.13the house of representatives Committee on Ways and Means the estimated amount of the
8.14insufficiency and the estimated date when the appropriation will be exhausted.
8.15    (b) $750,000 is appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of finance
8.16to pay salaries, expenses, and administrative costs associated with making offers of
8.17settlement and entering into settlement agreements under section 1. This appropriation
8.18is available until June 30, 2009.
8.19    (c) $680,000 is appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of finance
8.20for a grant to Pillsbury United Communities in Minneapolis, to allow Waite House
8.21in Minneapolis to provide comprehensive services to youth and families of youth who
8.22were on a school bus on the I-35W bridge when the bridge collapsed. The commissioner
8.23must make $235,000 of this appropriation available immediately, must make $215,000
8.24available on August 1, 2008, and must make the remainder of the appropriation available
8.25on August 1, 2009. The appropriation is available until spent.
8.26EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment.