S.1185 - Small Business Liability Reform Act of 1999106th Congress (1999-2000)
Summary: S.1185 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)
Introduced in Senate (05/27/1999)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Title I: Small Business Lawsuit Abuse Protection
Title II: Product Seller Fair Treatment
Small Business Liability Reform Act of 1999 - Title I: Small Business Lawsuit Abuse Protection - Allows punitive damages to be awarded against a small business only if the claimant establishes by clear and convincing evidence that conduct carried out by the defendant through willful misconduct or with a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of others was the proximate cause of the harm that is the subject of the action. Limits such punitive damages to the lesser of two times the amount awarded for economic and noneconomic losses, or $250,000.
(Sec. 104) States that, in any civil action against a small business: (1) each defendant shall be liable only for the amount of noneconomic loss allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to the percentage of responsibility of that defendant for the harm caused to the plaintiff; and (2) the court shall render a separate judgment against each defendant describing such percentage of responsibility.
(Sec. 105) Excepts from such liability limitations any misconduct of a defendant: (1) that constitutes a crime of violence, international terrorism, or a hate crime; (2) that results in liability for damages under specified provisions of the Oil Pollution Control Act of 1990 or the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980; (3) that involves a sexual offense or violation of a Federal or State civil rights law; or (4) caused by being under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or a drug.
(Sec. 106) Preempts inconsistent State law.
Title II: Product Seller Fair Treatment - States that this title governs any product liability action brought in any Federal or State court. Excludes from this title actions for commercial loss, negligent entrustment, negligence per se concerning firearms and ammunition, and actions brought under a dram-shop or third-party liability arising out of the sale or provision of alcohol to an intoxicated person or a minor.
(Sec. 204) Mandates that, in any product liability action covered by this Act, a product seller other than a manufacturer shall be liable to a claimant only if such claimant establishes that: (1) the product that caused the harm was sold, rented, or leased by the seller, the seller failed to exercise reasonable care with respect to the product, and such failure was the proximate cause of harm to the plaintiff; (2) the seller made an express warranty applicable to such product, the product failed to conform to the warranty, and such failure caused the harm to the plaintiff; or (3) the product seller engaged in intentional wrongdoing (as determined under applicable State law), and such wrongdoing caused the harm to the plaintiff. States that a seller shall not be considered to have failed to exercise reasonable care with respect to a product based upon a failure to inspect if: (1) there was no reasonable opportunity to inspect; or (2) such inspection would not have revealed the aspect of the product that allegedly caused the claimant's harm. Allows a seller to be liable as a manufacturer if: (1) the manufacturer is not subject to appropriate service of process; or (2) the court determines that the claimant is or would be unable to enforce a judgment against the manufacturer. Provides limited liability for persons engaged in the business of renting or leasing a product.