Alaska Senate Votes to Eliminate Onerous Reporting Requirement for Civil Cases
Existing Rule Imposed Costs Without Benefits
Juneau – Today, the Alaska Senate voted unanimously to pass legislation eliminating an existing requirement for the reporting of civil case settlements. House Bill 104 was introduced by the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative Matt Claman (D-Anchorage).
In 1997, responding to public interest in tort reform and the work of the Governor’s Advisory Task Force on Civil Justice, the legislature passed tort reform legislation. One part of the legislation responded to the Task Force’s recommendation that the Alaska Judicial Council report on closed civil cases, using data from forms completed by attorneys and parties in the cases. Since then, as required by statute, the Judicial Council has collected data provided by attorneys and litigants and produced three reports.
In its last report, from November 2011, the Alaska Judicial Council reports that from January 2001 through December 2010, 88,873 cases resolved in the Alaska Court system were subject to the reporting requirement. Because each case had at least two parties, the Council should have received 177,746 or more reports. However, the Council only received 23,257 reports, approximately 13 percent of the reports it should have received. The low rate of reporting is one reason the Council has not issued a report since 2011: analysis based on 13 percent of potentially available data would not be reliable.
Eliminating the requirement has received support from attorneys and civil litigants. The existing reporting requirement is onerous for those who adhere to it and unenforceable for those who don’t; furthermore, the information reported to date has been inconclusive.
“The preparation and filing of these forms is an outdated burden on attorneys and a financial cost to their clients with no corresponding public benefit. It’s time for the legislature to eliminate this requirement,” said Rep. Claman.
House Bill 104 passed the Alaska State Senate today by a vote of 20-0. The bill unanimously passed the Alaska House of Representatives on February 27. HB 104 will now return to the Alaska House of Representatives for final consideration.
For more information, please contact Lizzie Kubitz in Rep. Claman’s office at (907) 465-4904.