2002 3rd Extraordinary Session
To: Select Committee on Civil Justice Reform
By: Representative Smith (39th)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 11-11-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE VENUE FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 85-3-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE A PROSPECTIVE EXEMPTION FROM JUDGMENT FOR EACH YEAR A PHYSICIAN PRACTICES MEDICINE IN THE STATE; TO CREATE SECTION 11-1-67, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PLACE A LIMITATION ON THE AWARD OF PUNITIVE DAMAGES; TO CREATE SECTION 11-1-69, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PLACE A LIMITATION ON THE AWARD OF NONECONOMIC DAMAGES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 11-11-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
11-11-3. (1) Civil actions of which the circuit court has original jurisdiction shall be commenced in the county in which the defendant or any of them may be found or in the county where the cause of action may occur or accrue and, if the defendant is a domestic corporation, in the county in which said corporation is domiciled or in the county where the cause of action may occur or accrue, except where otherwise provided, and except actions of trespass on land, ejectment and actions for the statutory penalty for cutting and boxing trees and firing woods and actions for the actual value of trees cut which shall be brought in the county where the land or some part thereof is situated. If a civil action is brought in an improper county, such action may be transferred to the proper county pursuant to Section 11-11-17.
(2) Civil actions for claims of medical malpractice shall be commenced in the county in which the defendant resides or in the county where the cause of action occurred.
SECTION 2. Section 85-3-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
85-3-1. There shall be exempt from seizure under execution or attachment:
(a) Tangible personal property of the following kinds selected by the debtor, not exceeding Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) in cumulative value:
(i) Household goods, wearing apparel, books, animals or crops;
(ii) Motor vehicles;
(iii) Implements, professional books or tools of the trade;
(iv) Cash on hand;
(v) Professionally prescribed health aids;
(vi) Any item of tangible personal property worth less than Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00).
Household goods, as used in this paragraph (a) means clothing, furniture, appliances, one (1) radio and one (1) television, one (1) firearm, one (1) lawnmower, linens, china, crockery, kitchenware, and personal effects (including wedding rings) of the debtor and his dependents; however, works of art, electronic entertainment equipment (except one (1) television and one (1) radio), jewelry (other than wedding rings), and items acquired as antiques are not included within the scope of the term "household goods." This paragraph (a) shall not apply to distress warrants issued for collection of taxes due the state or to wages described in Section 85-3-4.
(b) (i) The proceeds of insurance on property, real and personal, exempt from execution or attachment, and the proceeds of the sale of such property.
(ii) Income from disability insurance.
(c) All property, real, personal and mixed, for the collection or enforcement of any order or judgment, in whole or in part, issued by any court for civil or criminal contempt of said court; expressly excepted herefrom are such orders or judgments for the payment of alimony, separate maintenance and child support actions.
(d) All property in this state, real, personal and mixed, for the satisfaction of a judgment or claim in favor of another state or political subdivision of another state for failure to pay that state's or that political subdivision's income tax on benefits received from a pension or other retirement plan so used in this paragraph (d), "pension or other retirement plan" includes:
(i) An annuity, pension, or profit-sharing or stock bonus or similar plan established to provide retirement benefits for an officer or employee of a public or private employer or for a self-employed individual;
(ii) An annuity, pension, or military retirement pay plan or other retirement plan administered by the United States; and
(iii) An individual retirement account.
(e) One (1) mobile home, trailer, manufactured housing, or similar type dwelling owned and occupied as the primary residence by the debtor, not exceeding a value of Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00); in determining this value, existing encumbrances on said dwelling, including taxes and all other liens, shall first be deducted from the actual value of said dwelling. A debtor is not entitled to the exemption of a mobile home as personal property who claims a homestead exemption under Section 85-3-21, and the exemption shall not apply to collection of delinquent taxes under Sections 27-41-101 through 27-41-109.
(f) Assets held in, or monies payable to the participant or beneficiary from, whether vested or not, (i) a pension, profit-sharing, stock bonus or similar plan or contract established to provide retirement benefits for the participant or beneficiary and qualified under Section 401(a), 403(a), or 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code (or corresponding provisions of any successor law), including a retirement plan for self-employed individuals qualified under one of such enumerated sections, (ii) an eligible deferred compensation plan described in Section 457(b) of the Internal Revenue Code (or corresponding provisions of any successor law) or (iii) an individual retirement account or an individual retirement annuity within the meaning of Section 408 of the Internal Revenue Code (or corresponding provisions of any successor law), including a simplified employee pension plan.
(g) From and after January 1, 2003, Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00) for each year a licensed physician has practiced medicine in the state after January 1, 2003.
(h) Nothing in this section shall in any way affect the rights or remedies of the holder or owner of a statutory lien or voluntary security interest.
SECTION 3. The following shall be codified as Section 11-1-67, Mississippi Code of 1972:
11-1-67. (1) In all civil actions where an entitlement to punitive damages shall have been established under applicable law, no award of punitive damages shall exceed Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00) or five (5) times the amount of total compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
(2) Nothing herein shall be construed as creating a right to an award of punitive damages or to limit the duty of the court, or the appellate courts, to scrutinize all punitive damage awards, ensure that all punitive damage awards comply with applicable procedural, evidentiary and constitutional requirements, and to order remittitur where appropriate.
(3) This section shall stand repealed on January 1, 2005.
SECTION 4. The following shall be codified as Section 11-1-69, Mississippi Code of 1972:
11-1-69. (1) For the purposes of this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Noneconomic damages" means subjective, nonpecuniary damages arising from death, pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, worry, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, bystander injury, injury to reputation, humiliation, loss of the enjoyment of life, hedonic damages, other nonpecuniary damages, and any other theory of damages such as fear of loss, illness or injury. The term "noneconomic damages" shall not include punitive damages.
(b) "Actual economic damages" means objectively verifiable pecuniary damages arising from medical expenses and medical care, rehabilitation services, custodial care, disabilities, loss of earnings and earning capacity, loss of income, burial costs, loss of use of property, costs of repair of replacement of property, costs of obtaining substitute domestic services, loss of employment, loss of business or employment opportunities, and other objectively verifiable monetary losses.
(2) In any civil action, compensation for the noneconomic damages suffered by the injured plaintiff shall not exceed the amount of Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00).
(3) If liability is found, then the trier of fact, in addition to other appropriate findings, shall make separate findings specifying the total amount of noneconomic damages and the total amount of actual economic damages for each separate claimant in a manner that the court may apply the restrictions of this section.
(4) The trier of fact shall not be advised of the limitations imposed by this section.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.