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S. 1546 (108th): Small Business Liability Reform Act of 2003

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

7/31/2003--Introduced. Small Business Liability Reform Act of 2003 - Allows punitive damages to be awarded against a small business only if the claimant establishes by clear and convincing evidence that conduct carried out by the defendant with a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of others was the proximate cause of the harm that is the subject of the action. Limits such punitive damages to the lesser of three times the amount awarded for economic and noneconomic losses, or $250,000. Makes such limitation inapplicable if the court finds that the defendant acted with specific intent to cause the type of harm for which the action is brought. Provides liability limitation exceptions. States that in any civil action against a small business: (1) each defendant shall be liable only for the amount of noneconomic loss allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to the percentage of responsibility of that defendant for the harm caused to the plaintiff; and (2) the court shall render a separate judgment against each defendant describing such percentage of responsibility.Excepts from such liability limitations specified misconduct of a defendant.Mandates that, in any product liability action covered by this Act, a product seller other than a manufacturer shall be liable to a claimant only if such claimant establishes that: (1) the product that caused the harm was sold, rented, or leased by the seller, the seller failed to exercise reasonable care with respect to the product, and such failure was the proximate cause of harm to the plaintiff; (2) the seller made an express warranty applicable to such product, the product failed to conform to the warranty, and such failure caused the harm to the plaintiff; or (3) the product seller engaged in intentional wrongdoing, and such wrongdoing caused the harm to the plaintiff.