WCJC Legislative Priorities

WCJC’s preferred approach is to develop and advance civil justice reforms working with the business community, elected officials and others who share our goals. Often, however, it is necessary to fight an aggressive anti-business agenda advanced by the plaintiffs’ bar that would weaken the state’s ability to attract new or keep existing businesses. WCJC has been successful at both promoting positive legislation and defeating harmful legislation.

The bills listed below are of particular importance and an analysis and links to key documents are provided by clicking the issue title. WCJC’s Tracking Report, prepared by the Hamilton Consulting Group, provides a status of all bills of interest to WCJC.

Please contact Bob Fassbender with any questions.

2017-2018 Legislative Session

The Wisconsin litigation reform agenda for 2017-18 includes common sense reforms to address the high transactional cost of litigation. For example, reforms to discovery and class action suits will save all litigants time and money, including state and local government. Other reforms will promote efficiency and reduce costs while assuring the Wisconsin civil justice system remains fair to all parties.

Civil Procedures – Discovery & Litigation Financing

Class Action Statute

Third-Party Litigation Funding
Statute of Limitations and Repose
Use of Private Audit Firms to Collect Unclaimed Property

According to the 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 85 percent of corporate attorneys believe that a state’s litigation environment is likely to impact business decisions at their companies, such as where to locate or do business.[1] This is a significant increase from 75 percent in 2015 and 70 percent in 2012. Having a competitive legal environment has never been more important.

Yet, despite nationally recognized civil justice reforms in recent years, corporate attorneys perceive Wisconsin’s litigation climate as, at best, stagnant. From 2012 to 2015, the U.S. Chamber survey dropped us five spots to 20th in the nation for litigation climate. Wisconsin kept that 20th slot in the 2017 survey.

This view does not reflect significant improvements in Wisconsin’s business climate over the past years, resulting in transformational new job opportunities. But we can improve this negative perception to further enhance our ability to retain and grow existing businesses and attract new jobs to Wisconsin.

This impediment to growth caused by our litigation climate is not limited to “deep-pocket” corporations. A typical small business is six times more likely to be sued than to sue.[2] Litigation costs, whether transactional or damage awards, are more likely to cripple a small business.

The Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC) is supporting a package of common sense civil litigation reforms that will go a long way to reverse this perception. These reforms address the high transactional cost of litigation by modernizing our rules of civil procedure; for example, relating to discovery and class action suits. This will, in turn, save all litigants, including state and local government, time and money. Other reforms will promote efficiency and reduce costs while assuring the Wisconsin civil justice system remains fair to all parties.

[1] 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey – Ranking the States, U.S. Chamber ILR (Sept. 2017).

[2] NFIB Education Foundation Study: Small Business: Plaintiff or Defendant? Small Business Matters (1995).



Policy Papers

In a defining effort, the Wisconsin Legislature, with Gov. Walker’s leadership, enacted sweeping civil justice reforms during the contentious 2011-12 Legislative Session. Landmark reforms relating to product liability, expert opinion testimony, risk contribution, and caps on punitive damages, among others, turned Wisconsin’s souring litigation and business climate into one of the most competitive jurisdictions in the country from a litigation standpoint. Click here to read WCJC’s in-depth summary of the reforms.

Wisconsin Civil Justice Council

10 East Doty Street
Suite 500
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 310-5312

Your contribution to the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council will help WCJC promote fairness and equity in Wisconsin's civil justice system, with the ultimate goal of making Wisconsin a better place to work and live.

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