Actual Harms Act


Public policy, legal precedent, and common sense judgment support the view that the civil justice system should be reserved for individuals who have experienced real injuries and actual losses. Stretching the civil justice system beyond that perimeter to permit awards of damages to persons who have no physical injury, no objectively verifiable emotional harm, and no actual economic loss will dissipate assets and court resources needed for persons suffering real injuries, augment the potential for fraudulent actions, and impose wasteful litigation costs. The purpose of this model policy is to end or significantly reduce “no-injury” litigation to reserve state civil justice systems for individuals who have experienced real injuries and actual losses.

Actual Harms Act

Section 1 [Title]

The Actual Harms Act

Section 2 [Purpose]

The purpose of this Act is to assure that the [state] civil justice system is reserved for individuals who have experienced real injuries and actual losses.

Section 3 [Findings]

Allowing civil claims for damages when an individual has not shown an actual economic loss as a result of a physical harm, emotional harm with an objective symptom, or damage to property dissipates resources that should be preserved for persons suffering actual harm, results in highly speculative litigation, and leads to an unnecessary expenditure of judicial time and resources.

Section 4 [Actual Injury Required for Damages]

(a) To state a viable civil claim for damages, a plaintiff must assert that a defendant’s wrongful acts caused the plaintiff:

(1) physical harm, emotional harm, or damage to property or a recognized property interest; and

(2) economic loss.

(b) A court shall dismiss a claim that fails to assert facts meeting this requirement or where plaintiff cannot provide evidence of such facts after a reasonable opportunity for discovery.

(c) No court shall certify a class action that includes an uninjured member.

Section 5 [Definitions]

As used in this Act, the term:

(a) “Economic loss” means an actual monetary loss.

(b) “Emotional harm” means severe emotional distress manifested by objective symptomology.

(c) “Physical harm” means a present, existing and diagnosable physical disease, illness, or injury manifested by objective symptomology.

(d) “Uninjured member” means an individual who has not alleged a loss of money or property as a result of the defendant’s conduct that is likely to be redressed by a favorable decision.

Section 6 [Exceptions]

(a) This Act shall not apply to the following intentional torts: assault, battery, false imprisonment, or trespass to real property.

(b) This Act shall not alter principles of contract law.

Section 7 [Rule of Construction]

This Act provides minimum requirements for a civil claim for damages where not otherwise specified by statute.  The Act shall not be construed to reduce or eliminate any requirement for a civil claim recognized by statute or common law.  This Act does not create a cause of action.

Section 8 [Effective Date]

This Act shall apply to all civil claims pending on the effective date and thereafter regardless of when the claim arose.