There is one summary for H.R.4155. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (02/04/1992)

Access to Justice Act of 1992 - Amends the Federal judicial code to provide that, in determining whether a matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $50,000 for purposes of Federal diversity of citizenship jurisdiction, the amount of damages for pain and suffering or mental anguish, punitive or exemplary damages, and attorney fees or costs shall not be included.

Provides that on February 1 of each year the threshold amount for diversity jurisdiction (currently, $50,000) shall be adjusted to the nearest thousand dollars to reflect change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

Entitles the prevailing party in a diversity action to attorney fees only to the extent that such party prevails on any position or claim advanced during the action. Specifies that such fees shall be paid by the nonprevailing party up to the amount of such fees of the nonprevailing party or, if the nonprevailing party receives services under a contingent fee agreement, the reasonable value of such services.

Requires the counsel of record in any such action, in order to receive attorney fees, to maintain accurate, complete records of hours worked on the matter regardless of the fee arrangement. Authorizes the court to limit fees recovered to the extent that it finds special circumstances that make payment of such fees unjust.

Makes provisions of this Act (with respect to attorney fees in diversity cases) inapplicable to actions removed from State court or in which the United States, any State, or any agency, officer, or employee thereof is a party.

Amends the Equal Access to Justice Act to bar the award of attorney fees in excess of $75 per hour unless the court determines that an increase in the cost of living, as reflected by the change in the CPI-U (currently, unless the court determines that such an increase, or a special factor, such as the limited availability of qualified attorneys for the proceedings involved) justifies a higher fee. Sets forth provisions for the calculation of such cost of living adjustment.

Amends the Federal judicial code to require the potential plaintiff, at least 30 days before filing suit in a civil action brought in a U.S. district court, to transmit written notice to the intended defendant at an address reasonably calculated to provide actual notice of the specific claims involved, including the amount of actual damages and expenses. Directs such plaintiff, at the commencement of the action, to file in such court a a certificate of service evidencing compliance with such provision. Provides for a 30-day extension of any applicable statute of limitations that would expire during the period of such notice. Makes the requirements of this provision inapplicable under specified circumstances, such as in bankruptcy proceedings and where a defendant or assets are subject to flight.

Specifies that in the event that the district court finds that such notice requirements have not been met by the plaintiff and such defect is asserted by the defendant within 60 days after service of the summons or complaint, the claim shall be dismissed without prejudice and the costs of such action, including attorney fees, shall be be imposed upon the plaintiff. Permits the plaintiff, under such circumstances, to refile such claim within 60 days after dismissal regardless of any statutory limitations period if, during the 60 days after dismissal, notice is transmitted as provided by this Act and the original action was timely filed.

Authorizes the United States, except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, to enter into an agreement which provides that attorney fees may be awarded against the United States or any other party to the action or proceeding: (1) in any civil action commenced by the United States; (2) in civil proceedings involving disputes pursuant to the Contract Disputes Act of 1978; or (3) in a case in which the United States and another party have agreed to use outcome-determinative mediation, subject to specified requirements. Sets forth further requirements with respect to the award of attorney fees, including the handling of such awards received by Federal agencies.

Directs: (1) the chief judge of each judicial circuit (other than the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit) to designate one district court to be a pilot Multi-Door Courthouse (MDC); and (2) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to designate the U.S. Claims Court to be a pilot MDC. Terminates such designation and the program after three years.

Requires every court which has been designated as an MDC to establish an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) plan providing for: (1) procedures for limited discovery; (2) confidentiality of proceedings as to possible subsequent pretrial and trial actions; (3) the selection, use, and payment of nonjudicial personnel who may be selected to conduct ADR proceedings as neutrals, mediators, or arbitrators; and (4) standards for determining which cases are appropriate for ADR, considering such factors as whether factual issues predominate over legal issues and whether the case involves complex or novel legal issues requiring judicial action.

Requires that each plan: (1) provide that each assigned judge or magistrate judge conduct a conference with counsel within 120 days after the complaint is filed to review nonbinding, voluntary ADR procedures that may be used in lieu of litigation to resolve the claims in controversy; and (2) authorize the parties, if they agree, to use nonbinding ADR procedures (such as early evaluation by a neutral party, mediation, minitrials, summary jury trial, and arbitration) in lieu of litigation to resolve the claims in controversy.

Authorizes the district courts to: (1) use the volunteer services of nonjudicial personnel to conduct ADR proceedings as neutrals, mediators, and arbitrators; and (2) establish their compensation, subject to limits established by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Authorizes the Chief Justice of the United States to designate and assign temporarily a district judge of one circuit for service in another circuit, either in a district court or court of appeals, whenever the business of that court so requires (under current law, upon presentation of a certificate of necessity by the chief judge or circuit justice of the circuit wherein the need arises).

Makes it the duty of the Director of the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts to secure information and report annually to the Chief Justice, the chief judges of the circuits, the Congress, and the Attorney General on the courts' need for temporary judicial resources to ease overcrowded dockets (including information on delays being encountered in the maintenance of civil suits).

Provides that: (1) a State judicial officer shall not be held liable for any costs, including attorney fees, in any proceeding in vindication of civil rights brought against such officer for an act or omission of such officer while acting in an official capacity (act); and (2) in any civil action for deprivation of rights brought against a judicial officer for such an act, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree in the action was violated by such officer or declaratory relief was unavailable.

Amends the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act to provide that, in actions brought by any adult convicted of a crime and confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility, the court shall continue such case for a period not to exceed 180 days in order to require exhaustion of remedies. (Current law calls for a 90-day extension if the court believes it would be appropriate and in the interests of justice.)

Requires the Attorney General, upon request of a State or local corrections agency, to provide such agency with technical advice and assistance in establishing plain, speedy, and effective administrative remedies for inmate grievances.

Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize the court, with regard to proceedings in forma pauperis, to dismiss the case if satisfied that the action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Directs the Board of the Federal Judicial Center to study and include in the annual report of the activities of the Center determinations regarding ways in which case and docket management (including ADR) techniques may be applied to improve the cost-effectiveness of litigation and to eliminate unjustified expense and delay.

Provides that a court in banc shall consist of all circuit judges in regular service, with exceptions.

Repeals a provision authorizing any court of appeals having more than 15 active judges to perform its en banc function by such number of members of its en banc courts as may be prescribed by rule of the court of appeals.