Recognizing that the courts have a vital, and sometimes debilitating, role in Wisconsin’s litigation climate, WCJC established its Appellate Program.
Under the Wisconsin Court Watch initiative, WCJC supports the Great Lakes Legal Foundation’s effort to monitor Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Supreme Court decisions. As needed, the WCJC Appellate Committee will determine it is appropriate to file amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs with the Wisconsin Supreme Court. These briefs are prepared by Great Lakes Legal Foundation lawyers or outside counsel under our supervision.
To date, WCJC has filed amicus briefs in three Wisconsin Supreme Court cases:
MercyCare Ins. Co. et al. v. Wis. Commissioner of Ins. – In this case, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance claimed the “general rule” in Wisconsin is that courts should accord great weight deference to an agency’s interpretation of a statute. Given agencies are administering an ever-growing and intrusive book of laws, such deference would be highly detrimental to the regulated community.
In our brief, WCJC asked that the Wisconsin Supreme Court reject this assertion and otherwise clarify the level of deference to be accorded to an agency’s interpretation of a statute.
In its July 16, 2010, decision, the Court rejected the broad application of great weight deference and clarified all three levels of deference, generally consistent with WCJC’s position.
Casper, et al. v. American Int. South Ins. Co., et al. – This case involved three issues – judicial discretion for refusing to enter default judgment, interpretation of the direct action statute, and corporate officer liability.
While briefing all three issues, WCJC was most interested in reversing the Court of Appeals decision pertaining to officer liability.
In its July 19, 2011, decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision and found the corporate officer’s actions “too remote to provide a basis for personal liability.”
Rasmussen, et al. v. General Motors Corp., et al. – The issue before the Wisconsin Supreme Court was whether Wisconsin’s personal jurisdiction statute, Wis. Stat. § 801.05, allows for general or specific jurisdiction over a foreign parent corporation based on an agency theory.
WCJC’s brief argued that the court maintain the distinction between parent and subsidiary corporations, which limits personal jurisdiction.
In its July 1, 2011, decision, consistent with our brief, the Wisconsin Supreme Court found that the statutory requirements for general personal jurisdiction were not met.