Bill would increase damage caps, deadline to file tort claims

The Judiciary Committee heard testimony Feb. 13 on a bill that would modify provisions of the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act.

Under LB284, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad, damages from a single claim would be capped at $3 million and damages from all claims arising from a single occurrence would be capped at $12 million.

The bill also would extend the one-year deadline to file a claim to two years.

Conrad said the damage cap has not increased since it was enacted in 1985.

John Lindsay, representing the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys, testified in support of the bill, saying an injury often causes a person to lose their job or some income. The cost of living is much higher than it was in 1985, he said, so the bill would adjust the damages cap to account for inflation rates.

Deputy City Attorney of Omaha Tom Mumgaard testified in opposition to the bill. Only one-third of annual tort claims filed in Omaha are not settled and result in lawsuits, he said, so the current $1 million cap is sufficient.

Brian Doyle, representing the Eastern Nebraska Development Council, also testified in opposition to the bill, saying it would significantly increase insurance premiums for Sanitary Improvement Districts (SIDs). SIDs must carry liability insurance up to the maximum amount of damages available under the act, he said.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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