Archive for the ‘Editorials’ Category
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports on the close relationships between some doctors who treat mesothelioma patients, and the plaintiffs’ attorneys who litigate asbestos lawsuits.
The report details significant contributions to mesothelioma research made by some such attorneys, as well as some asbestos lawyers sending “elaborate gift baskets” to doctors, providing tickets to “professional sporting events,” or offering “paid work as expert witnesses.” According to the report, the doctors then serve as referrers and marketing tools, giving an edge to doctor-favored attorneys seeking to represent mesothelioma clients.
The article explains the cases are a hot commodity in the legal world because “Mesothelioma patients are in high demand by plaintiffs’ attorneys. A single successful mesothelioma case against companies that made asbestos products can be worth an average of $1.5 million to $2 million, according to legal consultants. The plaintiffs’ lawyers get anywhere from 30% to 40% in fees.”
The Wisconsin Assembly has scheduled a floor vote for Wednesday, May 8 on three bills that are a priority for the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC).
- Personal Injury Trust Claims Transparency (AB 19): The purpose of this legislation is to provide transparency and prevent fraud involving personal injury trusts by creating certain discovery requirements during litigation. Numerous types of personal injury trusts have been created under the federal bankruptcy code and state laws to ensure that injured people can be properly compensated. In some instances, plaintiffs who file (or could file) claims with these personal injury trusts may also seek compensation for their injuries through a second channel – lawsuits against solvent defendants (i.e., businesses) in the courts. The ability of plaintiffs to seek multiple recoveries – without any transparency regarding these multiple recoveries – is what this bill addresses. For more information, see WCJC’s talking points. Also, click here to read a Wall Street Journal editorial discussing a similar law enacted in Ohio.
- Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TIPAC) (AB 27): The interests of private plaintiffs’ attorneys are not always aligned with the interests of a state and its citizens. Private plaintiffs’ attorneys who are given complete control of litigation may seek settlements and judgments that maximize their profit rather than the benefit to a state and its citizens. And private attorneys have received excessive fees for their work on behalf of states in some cases. This legislation ensures that consumers, victims, and taxpayers receive their fair share of any recovery. For more information, see WCJC’s talking points. Also, click here to read a Wall Street Journal article discussing similar legislation that has been enacted in other states.
- Physician Informed Consent (AB 139): This legislation clarifies a negative Wisconsin Supreme Court decision (Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund) dealing with a physician’s duty of informed consent.
The Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC) fully supports and has the utmost respect for the men and women who have served in the military and protected our country. We also have the utmost sympathy for veterans who are injured as a result of their service. The WCJC would not support legislation that attempts to unfairly limit the remedies available to veterans and their families.
Certain veterans groups’ comments on Assembly Bill 19/Senate Bill 13, which the WCJC supports, appear to be based on misrepresentations made to veterans by individuals and groups that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. As explained below, their assertions about the supposed impact of the proposed legislation are simply not true. In fact, by protecting the limited funds available to trusts and the limited resources of solvent businesses, AB 19/SB 13 will help ensure that veterans and other legitimate victims receive fair compensation in the future. (more…)
The past few weeks have been very active for WCJC. The Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees have held a number of public hearings on bills supported by WCJC and its Partners. Below is a summary of each bill and its current status. (more…)
On April 2, incumbent Justice Patience Roggensack will face Marquette Law professor Ed Fallone for her chance to win another 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. While it may not ignite the same political passions as the 2011 Prosser-Kloppenburg race, the 2013 contest is critical to determining the balance of power on the high court. (more…)