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TO AMEND TITLE 15, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO CIVIL REMEDIES AND PROCEDURES, BY ADDING CHAPTER 41, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT IN AN ACTION FOR PERSONAL INJURY, PROPERTY DAMAGE, OR WRONGFUL DEATH, THE LIABILITY FOR EACH DEFENDANT IS SEVERAL ONLY AND MUST BE ALLOCATED TO THE DEFENDANTS BASED ON EACH DEFENDANT'S PERCENTAGE OF FAULT, TO ESTABLISH CRITERIA FOR ESTABLISHING THE PERCENTAGES OF FAULT, AND TO PROVIDE EXCEPTIONS FOR INTENTIONAL OR RECKLESS CONDUCT; TO AMEND SECTION 15-3-640, RELATING TO THE STATUTE OF REPOSE FOR CONSTRUCTION DEFECTS, SO AS TO REDUCE THE STATUTE OF REPOSE FROM THIRTEEN TO SEVEN YEARS AND TO DEFINE "SUBSTANTIAL COMPLETION"; TO AMEND 15-7-30, RELATING TO VENUE FOR A CIVIL ACTION, SO AS TO ESTABLISH PROCEDURES FOR DETERMINING THE PROPER VENUE; TO AMEND 15-7-100, RELATING TO A CHANGE OF VENUE OF A CIVIL ACTION, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT WHEN VENUE IS CHANGED, AN ACTION IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE PROCEDURES FOR DETERMINING PROPER VENUE; TO AMEND SECTION 15-36-10, RELATING TO FRIVOLOUS CIVIL PROCEEDINGS, SO AS TO ADOPT THE REASONABLE ATTORNEY STANDARD FOR CIVIL FILINGS BY ALL LITIGANTS AND TO REQUIRE THE REPORTING OF VIOLATIONS OF THE ARTICLE; TO AMEND SECTION 34-31-20, RELATING TO POSTJUDGMENT INTEREST, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT POSTJUDGMENT INTEREST SHALL ACCRUE AT THE PRIME RATE PLUS FOUR PERCENT; TO AMEND SECTION 36-2-803, RELATING TO PERSONAL JURISDICTION OF THE COURTS, SO AS TO REMOVE THE REQUIREMENT THAT JURISDICTION UNDER THIS SECTION PRECLUDES A CHANGE OF VENUE; BY ADDING SECTION 39-5-39, SO AS TO MAKE IT AN UNLAWFUL TRADE PRACTICE FOR AN ATTORNEY TO ADVERTISE HIS SERVICES IN A FALSE, DECEPTIVE, OR MISLEADING WAY, INCLUDING THE USE OF A NICKNAME THAT CREATES AN UNREASONABLE EXPECTATION OF RESULTS; TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, RELATING TO INSURANCE SAVINGS, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE MUST REVIEW DATA REPORTED BY LIABILITY INSURERS IN ORDER TO DETERMINE IF ANY SAVINGS ARE REALIZED AS A RESULT OF A DECREASE IN LITIGATION OR CLAIMS PAID AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS ACT; TO REPEAL SECTIONS 15-36-20, 15-36-30, 15-36-40, 15-36-50, RELATING TO FRIVOLOUS CIVIL PROCEEDINGS; AND TO REPEAL SECTION 58-23-90, RELATING TO THE PROPER VENUE TO BRING AN ACTION AGAINST A LICENSED MOTOR CARRIER.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. The General Assembly finds that the sections presented in this act constitute one subject as required by Article III, Section 17 of the South Carolina Constitution, in particular finding that each change and each topic relates directly to or in conjunction with other sections to the subject of tort and other civil action reform as clearly enumerated in the title.
The General Assembly further finds that a common purpose or relationship exists among the sections, representing a potential plurality but not disunity of topics, notwithstanding that reasonable minds might differ in identifying more than one topic contained in the act.
SECTION 2. Title 15 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding Chapter 41 to read:
SECTION 3. Section 15-3-640 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
SECTION 4. Section 15-7-30 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
SECTION 5. Section 15-7-100 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
SECTION 6. Section 15-36-10 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
SECTION 7. Section 34-31-20 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
SECTION 8. Section 36-2-803 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
SECTION 9. Article 1, Chapter 5, Title 39 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
SECTION 10. The Department of Insurance shall review data reported on annual statements by liability insurers, including, but not limited to, paid claims, reserves, loss adjustment expenses, and such additional data as the department may require by promulgation of bulletin, to determine savings related to a decrease in litigation and claims paid pursuant to litigation after the effective date of this act. The department may require special reports from insurers to determine if savings are realized as a result of the provisions of this act. The department shall compile a report of savings realized and submit it for General Assembly review upon request. Costs or expenses associated with the compilation of this report of savings shall be paid by the insurers pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 13 of Title 38. The Department of Insurance shall review premium and losses by line of insurance to determine if appropriate adjustments have been made based upon the department estimates of savings realized pursuant to the provisions of this act.
SECTION 11. Sections 15-36-20, 15-36-30, 15-36-40, 15-36-50, and 58-23-90 of the 1976 Code are repealed.
SECTION 12. The provisions of this act do not affect any right, privilege, or provision of the South Carolina Tort Claims Act as contained in Chapter 78, Title 15 of the 1976 Code of South Carolina or the South Carolina Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act as contained in Chapter 56 of Title 33.
SECTION 13. The repeal or amendment by this act of any law, whether temporary or permanent or civil or criminal, does not affect pending actions, rights, duties, or liabilities founded thereon, or alter, discharge, release, or extinguish any penalty, forfeiture, or liability incurred under the repealed or amended law, unless the repealed or amended provision shall so expressly provide. After the effective date of this act, all laws repealed or amended by this act must be taken and treated as remaining in full force and effect for the purpose of sustaining any pending or vested right, civil action, special proceeding, criminal prosecution, or appeal existing as of the effective date of this act, and for the enforcement of rights, duties, penalties, forfeitures, and liabilities as they stood under the repealed or amended laws.
SECTION 14. If any section, subsection, item, subitem, paragraph, subparagraph, sentence, clause, phrase, or word of this act is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such holding shall not affect the constitutionality or validity of the remaining portions of this act, the General Assembly hereby declaring that it would have passed this act, and each and every section, subsection, item, subitem, paragraph, subparagraph, sentence, clause, phrase, and word thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more other sections, subsections, item, subitem, paragraphs, subparagraphs, sentences, clauses, phrases, or words hereof may be declared to be unconstitutional, invalid, or otherwise ineffective.
SECTION 15. Upon approval by the Governor, this act takes effect July 1, 2005, and applies to actions filed after the effective date.
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