Summary: H.R.2701 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.2701. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (06/20/1991)

Professionals' Liability Reform Act of 1991 - Establishes certain limitations and procedures regarding professional liability actions. Preempts certain State laws.

Provides that nothing in this Act shall prohibit any State from developing or implementing alternative procedures for: (1) expediting the adjudication of professional liability claims; (2) resolving professional liability disputes; or (3) compensating for harm caused by professional services.

Requires professional liability actions to be brought within three years after the claimant discovered, or should have discovered, the harm.

Requires the claimant, in any professional liability action, to establish: (1) that the professional negligently rendered professional services and that such negligence was the proximate cause of the harm; or (2) in a claim for economic injury, that the professional negligently rendered professional services to and for the direct and intended benefit of the claimant, and such services were the proximate cause of the harm. Requires the claimant to establish that, at the time such services were provided, knowledge of the circumstances that caused the harm and a practical means to eliminate such circumstances were reasonably available.

States that a professional shall not be liable in a professional liability action in which: (1) the professional's services were rendered to an agency of the Federal or State government; (2) Federal or State contract specifications existed which were material to the claim; and (3) the services rendered conformed to such specifications.

Permits future damage awards exceeding $100,000 to be made by periodic payments. Requires that damage awards be offset by any amount received as compensation for the same injury. Establishes a contingency fee schedule for plaintiffs' attorneys. States that the principles of comparative liability shall apply unless persons engaged in concerted action which proximately caused the harm.

Permits the awarding of punitive damages only where the conduct of the defendant: (1) manifested a malicious and reckless disregard for safety; and (2) constituted an extreme departure from accepted standards of safety. States that punitive damages may not be awarded in the absence of a compensatory award, or for the negligent provision of professional services. Requires the trier of fact, at the request of the professional, to consider in a separate proceeding whether punitive damages are to be awarded. Limits the claimant's actual recovery of punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages. States that excess punitive damages shall be paid to the State or Federal government.

Makes any attorney who files a frivolous claim subject to pecuniary sanctions by the court.

Requires each State to encourage professional organizations to form risk management programs.