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A BILL IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at the request of the Mayor, introduced the following bill, which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
To place certain limits on the liability of the District of Columbia government for damages based on the tortious actions and omissions of District government employees who act within the scope of their employment.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the "District of Columbia Governmental Immunity Reform Act of 2001".
Sec. 2. Definitions.
As used in this act, the term
(1) "Employee" means an officer or employee of the government of the District of Columbia, or a person acting on behalf of the District government in an official capacity, whether with or without compensation. It shall include a former employee sued for actions arising out of his or her employment with the District government. It shall not include an inmate performing work as part of a correctional program. Nor shall it include a person performing services for the District government as a contractor, except that it shall include a health care practitioner who is performing services for the District government under an individual contract if:
(A) A contracting officer has determined that the practitioner's contract services are justifiable under applicable laws and regulations;
(2) "Health care practitioner" means a physician, dentist, optometrist, podiatrist, nurse, nurse's assistant, emergency medical technician, emergency medical technician/intermediate paramedic, emergency medical technician/paramedic, physician's assistant, laboratory technician, physical therapist, osteopath, chiropodist, chiropractor, psychologist, social worker, and any other clinic staff member working in a health care facility of the District government.
(3) "Tort claim" means any claim for money damages, except a contract claim, arising out of the death or injury of any person, damage to or loss of property, or any other loss that a person may suffer that would be actionable if caused by a private person.
Sec. 3. Liability of the District government.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this act, the District government shall be liable for injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee while acting within the scope of his or her employment in the same manner and to the same extent as under prior law.
(b) Costs may be allowed in all courts to the successful litigant of a tort claim against the District government, except that the District government shall not be liable for interest prior to judgment, for punitive damages, or for attorney's fees.
Sec. 4. Limitation on award of damages.
(a) Except for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, an award or awards of damages based on a tort claim or tort claims that arise from the same transaction or occurrence shall not exceed $250,000 in favor of any 1 plaintiff or $1,000,000 in the aggregate in favor of all actual or potential plaintiffs.
(b) For purposes of subsection (a) of this section, all persons claiming damages as a direct or indirect result of the death of, the injury or injuries to, the damage to or loss of the property of, or any other loss to 1 other person shall be considered as 1 plaintiff.
(c) The amount of reasonable and necessary medical expenses for any tort claim against the District government shall be supported in evidence by expert medical testimony.
(d) By rulemaking, the Mayor may adjust the $250,000 and $1,000,000 limitations of subsection (a) of this section on the basis of changes in the Consumer Price Index, provided that the limitations shall not be less than $250,000 and $1,000,000, respectively.
Sec. 5. Claims covered by collateral benefits.
(a) When an award of damages to a plaintiff based on a tort claim against the District government includes a component for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, the court shall reduce that component by any amount paid on behalf of the plaintiff, or reimbursable to the plaintiff, as a benefit under a policy or plan of accidental or disability insurance, or under a policy or plan that covers medical, hospital, dental, or other health care services.
(b) No source of any collateral benefits deducted pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall recover any amount against the plaintiff out of the award of damages to the plaintiff. Nor shall such a source be subrogated to the rights of the plaintiff against the District government.Sec. 6. Applicability.
This act shall apply to all tort claims against the District government, except tort claims that have been reduced to judgment before the effective date of this act.
Sec. 7. Fiscal impact statement.
The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal impact statement required by section 602(c)(3) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Code § 1-233(c)(3)).
Sec. 8. Effective date.
This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), approval by the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority as provided in section 203(a) of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act of 1995, approved April 17, 1995 (109 Stat. 116; D.C. Code § 47-392.3(a)), a 30-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Code § 1-233(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.
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