SB 0602 Drug Pusher Liability Act
LR Number:S2147.01I Fiscal Note:2147-01
Committee:Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence
Last Action:01/10/96 - Hearing Conducted S Civil & Criminal Jurisprudence Committ
Effective Date:August 28, 1996
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Current Bill Summary

SB 602 - This act, to be known as the Drug Pusher Liability Act, allows drug users, relatives of drug users, and certain others to bring civil actions against drug dealers for damages resulting from drug use.

APPLICABILITY OF LAW: A person knowingly involved in the distribution of drugs is liable for civil damages as provided in this act. An officer who distributes drugs in furtherance of an investigation is not liable.

Parties who may bring an action under this act include: the drug user; certain relatives of the user; the user's employer; and any facility that funds a treatment program for the user. Any person other than a drug user may recover under this act from: 1) a person who distributed an illegal drug that was used by an individual; or 2) a person who participated in the drug market if there is a substantial connection between the drug market and the individual user. A third party insurer may not pay damages under this act. An individual plaintiff, other than a drug user, may recover both economic and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

DRUG USER AS PLAINTIFF: A drug user may bring an action for damages if certain criteria are met. The user must notify law enforcement more than six months before filing the action of everything he knows about the source of drugs. In addition, the individual must remain drug free while the case is pending. A drug user may only recover economic damages under this act.

PROCEDURAL ISSUES: Two or more persons may join as plaintiffs in the same action. Two or more persons may be joined as defendants in the same action. An action brought by a drug user is governed by comparative fault. Any award made to a drug user may be reduced proportionally depending on that user's role in causing harm to himself. The defendant must prove the user's fault by clear and convincing evidence.

A drug dealer found liable under this act may sue another person for contribution.

The standard for proving an individual's participation in the drug market shall be clear and convincing evidence. A person who has been convicted of a drug crime may not deny participation in the illegal drug market. A conviction is evidence of participation in the drug market for two years prior to the act which led to the conviction.

A plaintiff under this act may request an order for the court to attach all of a defendant's assets to satisfy a possible award. A defendant is entitled to an immediate hearing if the court orders attachment of his property. A drug dealer's assets that are seized pursuant to a forfeiture action may not be used to satisfy a judgment until such assets are released.

A cause of action accrues under this act when a drug user has suffered actual harm as a result of drug use and knows that the drug use is causing the harm. A claim must be brought within two years thereafter. The statute of limitations does not run while a drug user is incapacitated or for six months after a drug dealer is being convicted of a drug offense. The statute of limitations on a claim based upon drug activity occurring before the effective date of this act begins to run at the effective date of this act.

Any claim brought under this act may be stayed upon the motion of a governmental agency that is conducting a criminal investigation or prosecution. This act is not intended to allow a family member to sue another.