HOUSE BILL 4

55th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2021

INTRODUCED BY

Georgene Louis and Brian Egolf and Joseph Cervantes

and Patricia Roybal Caballero

 

 

 

 

AN ACT

RELATING TO CIVIL RIGHTS; ENACTING THE NEW MEXICO CIVIL RIGHTS ACT; PERMITTING AN INDIVIDUAL TO BRING A CLAIM AGAINST A PUBLIC BODY OR PERSON ACTING ON BEHALF OF OR UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF A PUBLIC BODY FOR A VIOLATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL'S RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES OR IMMUNITIES ARISING PURSUANT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF NEW MEXICO; PROHIBITING THE USE OF THE DEFENSE OF QUALIFIED IMMUNITY; MANDATING ATTORNEY FEES; PROVIDING A THREE-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:

     SECTION 1. [NEW MATERIAL] SHORT TITLE.--This act may be cited as the "New Mexico Civil Rights Act".

     SECTION 2. [NEW MATERIAL] DEFINITION.--As used in the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, "public body" means a state or local government, an advisory board, a commission, an agency or an entity created by the constitution of New Mexico or any branch of government that receives public funding, including political subdivisions, special tax districts, school districts and institutions of higher education.

     SECTION 3. [NEW MATERIAL] CLAIM FOR VIOLATION OF STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.--

          A. A public body or person acting on behalf of, under color of or within the course and scope of the authority of a public body shall not subject or cause to be subjected any resident of New Mexico or person within the state to deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities secured pursuant to the constitution of New Mexico.

          B. A person who claims to have suffered a deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities pursuant to the constitution of New Mexico due to acts or omissions of a public body or person acting on behalf of, under color of or within the course and scope of the authority of a public body may maintain an action to establish liability and recover actual damages and equitable or injunctive relief in any New Mexico district court.

          C. The remedies provided for in the New Mexico Civil Rights Act are not exclusive and shall be in addition to any other remedies prescribed by law or available pursuant to common law.

     SECTION 4. [NEW MATERIAL] PROHIBITING THE USE OF THE DEFENSE OF QUALIFIED IMMUNITY.--In any claim for damages or relief under the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, no public body or person acting on behalf of, under color of or within the course and scope of the authority of a public body shall enjoy the defense of qualified immunity for causing the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities secured by the constitution of New Mexico.

     SECTION 5. [NEW MATERIAL] MANDATORY ATTORNEY FEES.--The court shall award reasonable litigation expenses and attorney fees for all work reasonably necessary to obtain a successful result to any person who prevails in a court action to enforce the provisions of the New Mexico Civil Rights Act. When determining litigation expenses and reasonable attorney fees, the court shall not exclude work on other claims that were inextricably intertwined with work performed to obtain a successful result pursuant to the New Mexico Civil Rights Act.

     SECTION 6. [NEW MATERIAL] STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS AND ABATEMENT.--

          A. A claim made pursuant to the New Mexico Civil Rights Act shall be commenced no later than three years from the date of the conduct alleged to result in a deprivation of a right, privilege or immunity pursuant to the constitution of New Mexico, and any claim made after three years from the date of the conduct alleged to result in a deprivation of a right, privilege or immunity pursuant to the constitution of New Mexico shall be barred.

          B. An action made pursuant to the New Mexico Civil Rights Act that is pending in any court shall not abate upon the death of either or both parties to the action.

     SECTION 7. [NEW MATERIAL] INDEMNIFICATION BY PUBLIC BODY.--A judgment awarded pursuant to the New Mexico Civil Rights Act against a person acting on behalf of, under color of or within the course and scope of the authority of the public body shall be paid by the public body.

     SECTION 8. [NEW MATERIAL] WAIVER OF SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY.-- The state shall not have sovereign immunity for itself or any public body within the state for claims brought pursuant to the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, and the public body or person acting on behalf of, under color of or within the course and scope of the authority of the public body provided pursuant to that act shall not assert sovereign immunity as a defense or bar to an action.

     SECTION 9. [NEW MATERIAL] RECORDS OF CLAIMS.--Each public body shall maintain a record of all final judgments and settlements paid by the public body for claims made pursuant to the New Mexico Civil Rights Act and attach a copy of the complaint to each record. All judgments, settlements and complaints are subject to disclosure pursuant to the Inspection of Public Records Act.

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