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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

SF 2824

2nd Engrossment - 85th Legislature (2007 - 2008) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.

Current Version - 2nd Engrossment

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A bill for an act
relating to transportation; providing an alternative compensation and settlement
process for victims of the I-35W bridge collapse; changing the effective date of
an increase in individual damage caps for state tort claims; appropriating money;
amending Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 3.736, subdivision 4.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

ARTICLE 1

STATE TORT CLAIMS

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 3.736, subdivision 4, is amended to read:


Subd. 4.

Limits.

The total liability of the state and its employees acting within the
scope of their employment on any tort claim shall not exceed:

(a) $300,000 when the claim is one for death by wrongful act or omission and
$300,000 to any claimant in any other case, for claims arising before deleted text beginJanuarydeleted text endnew text begin Augustnew text end
1, deleted text begin2008deleted text endnew text begin 2007new text end;

(b) $400,000 when the claim is one for death by wrongful act or omission and
$400,000 to any claimant in any other case, for claims arising on or after deleted text beginJanuarydeleted text endnew text begin Augustnew text end
1, deleted text begin2008deleted text endnew text begin 2007new text end, and before July 1, 2009;

(c) $500,000 when the claim is one for death by wrongful act or omission and
$500,000 to any claimant in any other case, for claims arising on or after July 1, 2009;

(d) $750,000 for any number of claims arising out of a single occurrence, for claims
arising on or after January 1, 1998, and before January 1, 2000;

(e) $1,000,000 for any number of claims arising out of a single occurrence, for
claims arising on or after January 1, 2000, and before January 1, 2008;

(f) $1,200,000 for any number of claims arising out of a single occurrence, for
claims arising on or after January 1, 2008, and before July 1, 2009; or

(g) $1,500,000 for any number of claims arising out of a single occurrence, for
claims arising on or after July 1, 2009.

If the amount awarded to or settled upon multiple claimants exceeds the applicable
limit under clause (d), (e), (f), or (g), any party may apply to the district court to apportion
to each claimant a proper share of the amount available under the applicable limit under
clause (d), (e), (f), or (g). The share apportioned to each claimant shall be in the proportion
that the ratio of the award or settlement bears to the aggregate awards and settlements for
all claims arising out of the occurrence.

The limitation imposed by this subdivision on individual claimants includes damages
claimed for loss of services or loss of support arising out of the same tort.

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective retroactively from August 1, 2007.
new text end

ARTICLE 2

I-35W BRIDGE COLLAPSE

Section 1. new text beginCOMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS OF I-35W BRIDGE COLLAPSE.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Findings. new text end

new text begin (a) The legislature finds that the collapse of the Interstate
Highway 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis on August 1, 2007,
was a catastrophe of historic proportions. The bridge was the third-busiest in the state,
carrying over 140,000 cars per day. Its collapse killed 13 people and injured more than
100. No other state-owned structure has ever fallen with such devastating physical and
psychological impact on so many.
new text end

new text begin (b) The establishment of a compensation process for victims of the bridge collapse
furthers the public interest by providing a remedy for victims while avoiding the
uncertainty and expense of potentially complex and protracted litigation to resolve the
issue of the liability of the state and its employees for damages incurred by victims.
new text end

new text begin (c) These findings are not an admission of liability of the state for damages caused
by the bride collapse.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Definitions. new text end

new text begin For purposes of this article:
new text end

new text begin (a) "Damages" means damages that are compensable under state tort law and
damages for wrongful death that are compensable under Minnesota Statutes, section
573.02. Damages do not include punitive damages or attorney fees.
new text end

new text begin (b) "Emergency relief fund" means the I-35W bridge emergency relief fund created
by the state on November 30, 2007.
new text end

new text begin (c) "Municipality" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 466.01.
new text end

new text begin (d) "Panel" means the special master panel created under subdivision 3.
new text end

new text begin (e) "State" has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 3.732.
new text end

new text begin (f) "Victim" means a natural person who was present on the I-35W bridge at the
time of the collapse. Victim also includes:
new text end

new text begin (1) the parent or legal guardian of a victim who is under 18 years of age;
new text end

new text begin (2) a legally appointed representative of a victim; or
new text end

new text begin (3) the surviving spouse or next of kin of a victim who would be entitled to bring an
action under Minnesota Statutes, section 573.02.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Special master panel; administration. new text end

new text begin (a) The chief justice of the
Supreme Court shall establish a special master panel to consider claims, make offers of
settlement, and enter into settlement agreements with victims on behalf of the state. The
panel must consist of three attorneys, at least one of whom must be a retired judge of the
appellate or district courts of this state. Nonjudicial members of the panel must have
experience in legal issues involving the settlement of tort claims and the determination of
damages. The chief justice shall designate a member of the panel who is a retired judge
to serve as chair of the panel. The chief justice shall determine the pay and expenses to
be received by the panel.
new text end

new text begin (b) Within the limits of available appropriations, the state court administrator,
in consultation with the panel, shall hire employees necessary to assist the panel in
performing its duties under this section. Employees are in the unclassified state civil
service. The panel may also use current state employees or consultants who are under a
contract with the state to assist the panel in processing claims under this section.
new text end

new text begin (c) The panel may adopt procedures, rules, and forms for considering claims, making
offers of settlement, and entering into settlement agreements.
new text end

new text begin (d) The state court administrator shall forward documentation of salaries, expenses,
and administrative costs under this subdivision to the commissioner of finance for
payment of those amounts.
new text end

new text begin (e) Members of the panel and employees and contractors acting under the direction
of the panel are absolutely immune from civil liability for any act or omission occurring
within the scope of the performance of their duties under this section.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Claims; consideration, settlement, and payment. new text end

new text begin (a) The panel shall
consider claims, make offers of settlement, and enter into settlement agreements with
victims as provided in this section. In order to be eligible to receive an offer of settlement
or enter into a settlement agreement under this section, a victim must file a claim with the
panel by October 1, 2008. Any offer of settlement must be made by April 1, 2009.
new text end

new text begin (b) The amount of an offer of settlement under this section must be based on the
total damages incurred by the victim, less:
new text end

new text begin (1) a collateral source reduction calculated in the manner provided for in Minnesota
Statutes, section 548.36;
new text end

new text begin (2) any payment made to the victim from the emergency relief fund; and
new text end

new text begin (3) any payments made or required to be made to the victim by a third-party
tortfeasor under the terms of an existing settlement or other agreement with the victim
or a final judgment in favor of the victim concerning claims of the victim that relate to,
involve, or arise out of the bridge collapse.
new text end

new text begin The amount of an offer of settlement or payment required by a settlement agreement
must not exceed $400,000 per victim. Notwithstanding Minnesota Statutes, section 3.736,
subdivision 4, clause (e), there is no limit on the total amount of payments made to all
victims under this section, subject to the availability of appropriations for this purpose.
new text end

new text begin (c) A victim who accepts an offer of settlement from the panel must agree in writing
and in a form developed by the panel to release the state and every municipality of this
state and their employees from liability for damages arising from the bridge collapse and
to cooperate with the state in pursuing claims the state may have against any other party.
The release must also provide that the victim will indemnify the state, a municipality,
and their employees for any claim of contribution or indemnity, or both, made by other
persons against the state, a municipality, and their employees and the release will satisfy
any judgment obtained by the victim in an action against other persons to the extent of
the release, if the claim or judgment relates in any way to a claim of the victim arising
from the bridge collapse. The release must provide for the subrogation interest of the state
under section 2, subdivision 5.
new text end

new text begin (d) The panel shall promptly forward to the commissioner of finance documentation
of each settlement agreement that has been entered into under this section. The
commissioner of finance shall pay the agreed amount within 30 days after receiving the
documentation and in the order in which the documentation from the panel was received.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Effect and finality of offers and settlement agreements. new text end

new text begin (a) An offer
of settlement made to a victim under this section is considered for all purposes to be an
offer to the victim to settle a legal claim.
new text end

new text begin (b) A determination by the panel regarding an offer of settlement or settlement
agreement is final and not subject to judicial review.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Records. new text end

new text begin Records of the panel related to a claim filed by a victim, an
offer of settlement, or an acceptance or rejection of an offer are not accessible to the
public except for:
new text end

new text begin (1) the name of the victim; and
new text end

new text begin (2) the terms of any written settlement agreement between the victim and the state.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Election to proceed in district court. new text end

new text begin (a) A victim may elect not to file
a claim with the panel or not to accept an offer of settlement from the panel. A victim
who elects not to file a claim with the panel or not to accept an offer of settlement has
not waived any legal rights that may be asserted against the state or a municipality and
may proceed with a claim in district court.
new text end

new text begin (b) If a victim elects not to accept an offer of settlement, the state or a municipality
may not use any data provided by the victim to the panel in a subsequent legal proceeding.
The state or a municipality may obtain information, including data provided to the panel,
through discovery or other legal processes.
new text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective the day following final enactment.
new text end

Sec. 2. new text beginEFFECT OF SPECIAL COMPENSATION PROCESS; RELATIONSHIP
TO OTHER LAW.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin No state liability or duty created. new text end

new text begin The establishment of the special
compensation process under section 1 and the emergency relief fund, and an offer of
settlement or a settlement agreement, is not an admission of liability by the state or a
municipality and their employees and does not establish a duty of the state, a municipality,
or their employees to compensate victims. The creation and funding of the compensation
process under this act or an offer of settlement or settlement agreement is not admissible
in a judicial or administrative proceeding to establish liability or a legal duty.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Payments as additional compensation. new text end

new text begin Payments made under section 1
or from the emergency relief fund are intended to supplement and be in addition to any
payments required to be made by a third party under law or contract. Payments made
under section 1 are not a collateral source for purposes of Minnesota Statutes, section
62A.096 or 548.36 or other law providing for the reduction of a damage award or the
amount of benefits recoverable by a victim from a third party.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Payments from other sources. new text end

new text begin A person required to make payments,
including future payments, to a victim may not eliminate or reduce those payments as a
result of compensation paid to the victim under section 1 or from the emergency relief
fund or as a result of the victim's release of claims against the state, a municipality, or their
employees under section 1. The obligation of any person or entity other than the state to
make payments to a victim is primary as compared to any payment made or to be made
under section 1 or from the emergency relief fund. The persons and entities referenced in
and covered by this subdivision and subdivision 4 include, without limitation:
new text end

new text begin (1) reparation obligors, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 65B.43, subdivision
9, whether they are insurers or self-insurers;
new text end

new text begin (2) health plan companies, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 62Q.01,
subdivision 4, including the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association created under
Minnesota Statutes, section 62E.10;
new text end

new text begin (3) insurance companies, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 60A.02,
subdivision 4;
new text end

new text begin (4) self-insured pools of political subdivisions organized under Minnesota Statutes,
section 471.617 or 471.981, including service cooperatives pools organized under
Minnesota Statutes, section 123A.21;
new text end

new text begin (5) risk retention groups, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 60E.02,
subdivision 12;
new text end

new text begin (6) joint self-insurance plans governed by Minnesota Statutes, chapter 60F;
new text end

new text begin (7) workers' compensation insurers and private self-insurers, as defined in Minnesota
Statutes, section 79.01;
new text end

new text begin (8) the Minnesota Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association governed by
Minnesota Statutes, chapter 61B;
new text end

new text begin (9) the Minnesota Insurance Guaranty Association governed by Minnesota Statutes,
chapter 60C;
new text end

new text begin (10) the Minnesota Joint Underwriting Association governed by Minnesota Statutes,
chapter 62I;
new text end

new text begin (11) all insurers providing credit life, credit accident and health, and credit
involuntary unemployment insurance under Minnesota Statutes, chapter 62B, but also
including those coverages written in connection with real estate mortgage loans and those
provided to borrowers at no additional cost;
new text end

new text begin (12) the Minnesota unemployment insurance program provided under Minnesota
Statutes, chapter 268;
new text end

new text begin (13) coverage offered by the state under medical assistance, general assistance
medical care, and MinnesotaCare; and
new text end

new text begin (14) any other plan providing health, life, disability income, or long-term care
coverage.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin No third-party subrogation or recovery. new text end

new text begin (a) A person who has paid
benefits or compensation to or on behalf of a victim does not have a subrogation or other
right to recover those benefits or compensation by making a claim, or recovering from
payments made, under section 1 or from the emergency relief fund.
new text end

new text begin (b) Following a settlement agreement under section 1, any person or entity claiming
a subrogation interest against the amount to be paid by the state has 60 days in which to
provide notice to the state and the victim of its intent to assert its interest, during which
time the commissioner of finance must not make the payment. The subrogation claim
is waived if the notice is not provided by the deadline. If no notice is received by the
deadline, the commissioner of finance shall make the payment. If a notice of claim is
received, the funds shall remain in escrow until resolution of the subrogation issue. Any
payment to a victim against which a subrogation claim is successfully asserted shall
immediately revert to the state, for further deliberation as to the manner in which to
distribute the payment to the victim.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Third-party reimbursement of state; right of subrogation. new text end

new text begin (a) The
state is entitled to recover from any third party, including an agent, contractor, or vendor
retained by the state, for payments made from the emergency relief fund or under section
1 to the extent the third party caused or contributed to the bridge collapse.
new text end

new text begin (b) The state is subrogated to all potential claims against third-party tortfeasors of
a victim receiving payment from the emergency relief fund or under section 1 to the
extent the claims relate to, involve, or arise out of the bridge collapse. The subrogation
right of the state under this subdivision is limited to the amount paid to the victim from the
emergency relief fund and under section 1. The rights of the state under this subdivision
are in addition to other remedies, claims, and rights relating to the bridge collapse that the
state may have against other persons for the recovery of money.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Amounts not considered for purposes of limit on government tort
liability.
new text end

new text begin Payments made to victims under section 1 or from the emergency relief fund
are not to be considered in calculating the limit on tort claims in civil actions against the
state arising out of the bridge collapse for purposes of Minnesota Statutes, section 3.736,
subdivision 4, clause (e), or a municipality arising out of the bridge collapse for purposes
of Minnesota Statutes, section 466.04, subdivision 1, clause (5).
new text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective the day following final enactment.
new text end

Sec. 3. new text beginAPPROPRIATIONS.
new text end

new text begin (a) $....... is appropriated from the ....... fund to the commissioner of finance to make
payments under settlement agreements entered into by the panel under section 1. This
appropriation is available until June 30, 2010. The legislature intends to fully fund the
settlement agreements. If it appears to the commissioner of finance that this appropriation
may be insufficient to pay all agreed upon settlement amounts, the commissioner shall
promptly report to the chairs of the senate Committee on Finance and the house of
representatives Committee on Ways and Means the estimated amount of the insufficiency
and the estimated date when the appropriation will be exhausted.
new text end

new text begin (b) $....... is appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of finance
to pay salaries, expenses, and administrative costs associated with making offers of
settlement and entering into settlement agreements under section 1. This appropriation
is available until June 30, 2009.
new text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective the day following final enactment.
new text end