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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

Key: (1) language to be deleted (2) new language

  

                         Laws of Minnesota 1991 

                        CHAPTER 321-H.F.No. 1142 
           An act relating to civil actions; permitting 
          preliminary screening tests to be admitted as evidence 
          in certain civil actions; providing that evidence of 
          an alcohol or controlled substance violation may be 
          sufficient to impose punitive damages; raising the 
          dollar amount on no-fault claims that must be 
          arbitrated; directing the supreme court to establish 
          an alternative dispute resolution program and adopt 
          rules; modifying community dispute resolution 
          guidelines; providing for interest on arbitration 
          awards and modifying prejudgment interest; requiring 
          arbitrators to disclose conflicts of interest; 
          modifying circumstances under which an arbitrator may 
          change an award; amending Minnesota Statutes 1990, 
          sections 65B.525, subdivision 1; 169.121, subdivision 
          6, and by adding a subdivision; 494.015; 494.03; 
          549.09; 572.10; 572.15; and 572.16; proposing coding 
          for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 484; 
          repealing Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 494.01, 
          subdivisions 3 and 5. 
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
     Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 65B.525, 
subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
    Subdivision 1.  Except as otherwise provided in section 
72A.327, the supreme court and the several courts of general 
trial jurisdiction of this state shall by rules of court or 
other constitutionally allowable device, provide for the 
mandatory submission to binding arbitration of all cases at 
issue where the claim at the commencement of arbitration is in 
an amount of $5,000 $10,000 or less against any insured's 
reparation obligor for no-fault benefits or comprehensive or 
collision damage coverage. 
    Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 169.121, 
subdivision 6, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 6.  [PRELIMINARY SCREENING TEST.] When a peace 
officer has reason to believe from the manner in which a person 
is driving, operating, controlling, or acting upon departure 
from a motor vehicle, or has driven, operated, or controlled a 
motor vehicle, that the driver may be violating or has violated 
subdivision 1, the officer may require the driver to provide a 
sample of the driver's breath for a preliminary screening test 
using a device approved by the commissioner of public safety for 
this purpose.  The results of this preliminary screening test 
shall be used for the purpose of deciding whether an arrest 
should be made and whether to require the tests authorized in 
section 169.123, but shall not be used in any court action 
except (1) to prove that a test was properly required of a 
person pursuant to section 169.123, subdivision 2; or (2) in a 
civil action arising out of the operation or use of the motor 
vehicle.  Following the screening test additional tests may be 
required of the driver pursuant to the provisions of section 
169.123. 
    The driver who refuses to furnish a sample of the driver's 
breath is subject to the provisions of section 169.123 unless, 
in compliance with section 169.123, the driver submits to a 
blood, breath or urine test to determine the presence of alcohol 
or a controlled substance.  
    Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 169.121, is 
amended by adding a subdivision to read: 
    Subd. 10a.  [CIVIL ACTION; PUNITIVE DAMAGES.] In a civil 
action involving a motor vehicle accident, evidence that the 
accident was caused by a driver (1) with a blood alcohol 
concentration of .10 or more, (2) who was under the influence of 
a controlled substance, or (3) who was under the influence of 
alcohol and refused to take a test required under section 
169.123, subdivision 2, is sufficient for the trier of fact to 
consider an award of punitive damages.  A criminal charge or 
conviction is not a prerequisite to consideration of punitive 
damages under this subdivision.  At the trial in an action where 
the trier of fact will consider an award of punitive damages, 
evidence that the driver has been convicted of violating section 
169.121, 169.129, or 609.21 is admissible into evidence. 
    Sec. 4.  [484.76] [ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [GENERAL.] The supreme court shall 
establish a statewide alternative dispute resolution program for 
the resolution of civil cases filed with the courts.  The 
supreme court shall adopt rules governing practice, procedure, 
and jurisdiction for alternative dispute resolution programs 
established under this section.  The rules must provide an 
equitable means for the payment of fees and expenses for the use 
of alternative dispute resolution processes. 
    Subd. 2.  [SCOPE.] Alternative dispute resolution methods 
provided for under the rules must include arbitration, private 
trials, neutral expert fact-finding, mediation, minitrials, 
consensual special magistrates including retired judges and 
qualified attorneys to serve as special magistrates for binding 
proceedings with a right of appeal, and any other methods 
developed by the supreme court.  The methods provided must be 
nonbinding unless otherwise agreed to in a valid agreement 
between the parties.  Alternative dispute resolution may not be 
required in guardianship, conservatorship, or civil commitment 
matters; proceedings in the juvenile court under chapter 260; or 
in matters arising under section 144.651, 144.652, 518B.01, or 
626.557. 
    Sec. 5.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 494.015, is 
amended to read: 
    494.015 [TRAINING AND PROGRAM CERTIFICATION AND TRAINING 
GUIDELINES; CERTIFICATION.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [GUIDELINES.] The state court administrator 
shall adopt guidelines for use by community dispute resolution 
programs and training programs for mediators and arbitrators for 
the community dispute resolution programs.  The guidelines must 
include provisions to ensure that participation in dispute 
resolution is voluntary, procedures for case processing, and 
program certification criteria that must be met to receive court 
referrals.  The guidelines must include: 
    (1) standards for training mediators and arbitrators to 
recognize matters involving violence against a person; and 
    (2) training in family law matters that must be completed 
by mediators before acceptance of postdissolution property 
distribution matters and postdissolution visitation matters. 
    Subd. 2.  [CERTIFICATION.] The state court administrator 
shall certify programs that meet the requirements for 
certification set under subdivision 1. 
    Sec. 6.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 494.03, is 
amended to read: 
    494.03 [EXCLUSIONS.] 
    The guidelines shall exclude:  
    (1) any dispute involving violence against persons, 
including incidents arising out of situations that would support 
charges under sections 609.342 to 609.345, or 609.365; 
    (2) any matter involving a person who has been adjudicated 
incompetent or relating to guardianship, conservatorship, or 
civil commitment; 
    (3) any matter involving neglect or dependency, or 
involving termination of parental rights arising under sections 
260.221 to 260.245; and 
    (4) any matter arising under section 626.557 or sections 
144.651 to 144.652, or any dispute subject to chapters 518, 
518A, 518B, and 518C, whether or not an action is pending, 
except for postdissolution property distribution matters and 
postdissolution visitation matters.  This shall not restrict the 
present authority of the court or departments of the court from 
accepting for resolution a dispute arising under chapters 518, 
518A, and 518C, or from referring disputes arising under 
chapters 518, and 518A to for-profit mediation. 
    Sec. 7.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 549.09, is 
amended to read: 
    549.09 [INTEREST ON VERDICTS, AWARDS, AND JUDGMENTS.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [WHEN OWED; RATE.] (a) When the a 
judgment or award is for the recovery of money, including a 
judgment for the recovery of taxes, interest from the time of 
the verdict, award, or report until judgment is finally entered 
shall be computed by the court administrator or arbitrator as 
provided in clause (c) and added to the judgment or award.  
    (b) Except as otherwise provided by contract or allowed by 
law, preverdict, preaward, or prereport interest on pecuniary 
damages shall be computed as provided in clause (c) from the 
time of the commencement of the action or a demand for 
arbitration, or the time of a written settlement demand notice 
of claim, whichever occurs first, except as provided herein.  
The action must be commenced within 60 days two years of a 
written settlement demand notice of claim for interest to begin 
to accrue from the time of the demand notice of claim.  If 
either party serves a written offer of settlement, the other 
party may serve a written acceptance or a written counteroffer 
within 60 30 days.  After that time, interest on the judgment or 
award shall be calculated by the judge or arbitrator in the 
following manner.  The prevailing party shall receive interest 
on any judgment or award from the time of commencement of the 
action was commenced or a demand for arbitration, or the time of 
a written settlement demand was made notice of claim, or as to 
special damages from the time when special damages were 
incurred, if later, until the time of verdict, award, or report 
only if the amount of its offer is closer to the judgment or 
award than the amount of the opposing party's offer.  If the 
amount of the losing party's offer was closer to the judgment or 
award than the prevailing party's offer, the prevailing party 
shall receive interest only on the amount of the settlement 
offer or the judgment or award, whichever is less, and only from 
the time of commencement of the action was commenced or a demand 
for arbitration, or the time of a written settlement demand was 
made notice of claim, or as to special damages from when the 
special damages were incurred, if later, until the time the 
settlement offer was made.  Subsequent offers and counteroffers 
supersede the legal effect of earlier offers and counteroffers.  
For the purposes of clause (3), the amount of settlement offer 
must be allocated between past and future damages in the same 
proportion as determined by the trier of fact.  Except as 
otherwise provided by contract or allowed by law, preverdict, 
preaward, or prereport interest shall not be awarded on the 
following:  
    (1) judgments, awards, or benefits in workers' compensation 
cases, but not including third-party actions; 
    (2) judgments, awards, decrees, or orders in dissolution, 
annulment, or legal separation actions; 
    (3) judgments or awards for future damages; 
    (4) punitive damages, fines, or other damages that are 
noncompensatory in nature; 
    (5) judgments or awards not in excess of the amount 
specified in section 487.30; and 
    (6) that portion of any verdict, award, or report which is 
founded upon interest, or costs, disbursements, attorney fees, 
or other similar items added by the court or arbitrator. 
    (c) The interest shall be computed as simple interest per 
annum.  The rate of interest shall be based on the secondary 
market yield of one year United States treasury bills, 
calculated on a bank discount basis as provided in this section. 
    On or before the 20th day of December of each year the 
state court administrator shall determine the rate from the 
secondary market yield on one year United States treasury bills 
for the most recent calendar month, reported on a monthly basis 
in the latest statistical release of the board of governors of 
the federal reserve system.  This yield, rounded to the nearest 
one percent, shall be the annual interest rate during the 
succeeding calendar year.  The state court administrator shall 
communicate the interest rates to the court administrators and 
sheriffs for use in computing the interest on verdicts and shall 
make the interest rates available to arbitrators. 
    When a judgment creditor, or the judgment creditor's 
attorney or agent, has received a payment after entry of 
judgment, whether the payment is made voluntarily by or on 
behalf of the judgment debtor, or is collected by legal process 
other than execution levy where a proper return has been filed 
with the court administrator, the judgment creditor, or the 
judgment creditor's attorney, before applying to the court 
administrator for an execution shall file with the court 
administrator an affidavit of partial satisfaction.  The 
affidavit must state the dates and amounts of payments made upon 
the judgment after the most recent affidavit of partial 
satisfaction filed, if any; the part of each payment that is 
applied to taxable disbursements and to accrued interest and to 
the unpaid principal balance of the judgment; and the accrued, 
but the unpaid interest owing, if any, after application of each 
payment.  
     (d) This section does not apply to arbitrations between 
employers and employees under chapter 179 or 179A.  An 
arbitrator is neither required to nor prohibited from awarding 
interest under chapter 179 or under section 179A.16 for 
essential employees. 
    Subd. 2.  [ACCRUAL OF INTEREST.] During each calendar year, 
interest shall accrue on the unpaid balance of the judgment or 
award from the time that it is entered or made until it is paid, 
at the annual rate provided in subdivision 1.  The court 
administrator shall compute and add the accrued interest to the 
total amount to be collected when the execution is issued and 
compute the amount of daily interest accruing during the 
calendar year.  The person authorized by statute to make the 
levy shall compute and add interest from the date that the writ 
of execution was issued to the date of service of the writ of 
execution and shall direct the daily interest to be computed and 
added from the date of service until any money is collected as a 
result of the levy.  
    Subd. 3.  [DEDUCTIONS.] If an affidavit is filed pursuant 
to subdivision 4, a judgment creditor, or the judgment 
creditor's attorney or agent, is entitled to deduct from any 
payment made upon a judgment, whether the payment is made 
voluntarily by or on behalf of the judgment debtor, or is 
collected by legal process, all disbursements that are made 
taxable by statute or by rule of court, that have been paid or 
incurred by the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's 
attorney, after the entry of judgment.  Any remaining portion of 
the payment must be applied to the interest that has accrued 
upon the unpaid principal balance of the judgment before any 
remaining part is applied to reduce the unpaid principal balance 
of the judgment.  
    Subd. 4.  [AFFIDAVIT.] A judgment creditor, or the judgment 
creditor's attorney, may file an affidavit specifying the nature 
and amount of taxable disbursements paid or incurred by the 
judgment creditor, or the judgment creditor's attorney, after 
the entry of judgment.  An execution issued by the court 
administrator must include increased disbursements as are 
included in the affidavit filed with the court administrator. 
    Sec. 8.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 572.10, is 
amended to read: 
    572.10 [APPOINTMENT OF ARBITRATORS BY COURT; DISCLOSURE 
REQUIRED.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [APPOINTMENT BY THE COURT.] If the 
arbitration agreement provides a method of appointment of 
arbitrators, this method shall be followed.  In the absence 
thereof, or if the agreed method fails or for any reason cannot 
be followed, or when an arbitrator appointed fails or is unable 
to act and a successor has not been duly appointed, the court on 
application of a party shall appoint one or more arbitrators.  
An arbitrator so appointed has all the powers of one 
specifically named in the agreement. 
    Subd. 2.  [DISCLOSURE BY A NEUTRAL ARBITRATOR.] (a) A 
"neutral arbitrator" is the only arbitrator in a case or is one 
appointed by the court, by the other arbitrators, or by all 
parties together in agreement.  A neutral arbitrator does not 
include one selected by fewer than all parties even though no 
other party objects.  
    (b) Except for arbitrations under the American Arbitration 
Association, prior to selection, a neutral arbitrator shall 
disclose any relationships the person has with any of the 
parties, their counsel, insurers, or representatives and any 
conflict of interest, or potential conflict of interest, the 
person may have.  
    (c) In all arbitrations: 
    (1) after a neutral arbitrator has been selected, any 
relationship, conflict of interest, or potential conflict of 
interest that arises must be immediately disclosed by the 
arbitrator in writing to all parties, and a party may move the 
district court or the arbitration tribunal for removal of the 
neutral arbitrator; 
    (2) the disclosure required under this section is in 
addition to that which may be required by applicable rules of 
law, ethics, or procedure; and 
    (3) if the neutral arbitrator fails to disclose a conflict 
of interest or material relationship, it is grounds for vacating 
an award for fraud as provided in section 572.19. 
    Sec. 9.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 572.15, is 
amended to read: 
    572.15 [AWARD.] 
    (a) The award shall be in writing and signed by the 
arbitrators joining in the award.  The award must include 
interest, except this does not apply to arbitrations between 
employers and employees under chapter 179 or 179A.  An 
arbitrator is neither required to nor prohibited from awarding 
interest under chapter 179 or under section 179A.16 for 
essential employees.  The arbitrators shall deliver a copy to 
each party personally or by certified mail, or as provided in 
the agreement. 
    (b) An award shall be made within the time fixed therefor 
by the agreement or, if not so fixed, within such time as the 
court orders on application of a party.  The parties may extend 
the time in writing either before or after the expiration 
thereof.  A party waives the objection that an award was not 
made within the time required unless the party notifies the 
arbitrators of an objection prior to the delivery of the award 
to the party. 
    Sec. 10.  Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 572.16, is 
amended to read: 
    572.16 [CHANGE OF AWARD BY ARBITRATORS.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [APPLICATION OF PARTY.] On application of a 
party, the arbitrator may modify or correct the award: 
    (1) upon the grounds stated in section 572.20, subdivision 
1; 
    (2) for the purpose of clarifying the award; or 
    (3) where the award is based on an error of law.  
    Subd. 2.  [SUBMISSION BY COURT.] On application of a party 
or, If an application to the court is pending under section 
572.18, 572.19, or 572.20, on submission to the arbitrators by 
the court under such conditions as the court may order, the 
arbitrators may modify or correct the award upon the grounds 
stated in clauses (1) and (3) of subdivision 1, section 572.20, 
subdivision 1, or for the purpose of clarifying the award.  
     Subd. 3.  [PROCEDURE.] For purposes of subdivision 1 or 2, 
the application shall be made within 20 days after delivery of 
the award to the applicant.  Written notice thereof shall be 
given forthwith to the opposing party, stating that the opposing 
party must serve objections thereto, if any, within ten days 
from the notice.  The award so modified or corrected is subject 
to the provisions of sections 572.18, 572.19 and 572.20. 
    Sec. 11.  [REPEALER.] 
    Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 494.01, subdivisions 3 and 
5, are repealed. 
    Sec. 12.  [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 
    Sections 2 and 3 are effective August 1, 1991, and apply to 
convictions entered and civil actions commenced on or after that 
date.  Sections 4 to 6 and 11 are effective the day following 
final enactment.  Sections 7 and 9 are effective July 1, 1991, 
and apply to proceedings pending on or commenced on or after 
that date, except that the reduction in the time when a party 
may serve a written acceptance or written counteroffer under 
section 7, paragraph (b), from 60 to 30 days only applies if the 
written offer of settlement is made on or after July 1, 1991. 
    Presented to the governor May 30, 1991 
    Signed by the governor June 3, 1991, 2:58 p.m.