Policy Development & Advocacy
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 ones WCJC actively lobbied for or against, and additional information and analysis is provided. WCJC’s Tracking Report, prepared by the Hamilton Consulting Group, provides a list of all bills of interest to WCJC.
Limiting Phantom Damages
Rep. André Jacque and Sen. Paul Farrow have introduced legislation (SB 22/AB 29) that will allow juries in personal injury cases to see all the evidence when determining the amount required to compensate a plaintiff for his or her past medical expenses. While the legislation applies to personal injury cases, the bill also addresses the recent Orlowski v. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court which extended the collateral source rule to underinsured motorist (UIM) cases.
- WCJC Talking Points
- Andrew Cook, Eliminating Phantom Damages- It’s Time to Amend Wisconsin’s Collateral Source Rule, Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal, Spring 2012, at 15.
- Bill G. Smith, Jerry Deschane and Scott Manley: Eliminate ‘phantom damages’ and let the jury decide: The Cap Times, April 7, 2013.
- Bill G. Smith, Jerry Deschane and Scott Manley: Let the Jury Decide on Reimbursement: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 25, 2013.
Transparency in Government Retention of Plaintiffs’ Attorneys
Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) have introduced legislation (SB 19/AB27) that provides greater transparency and oversight when the State of Wisconsin hires private plaintiffs’ attorneys on a contingency fee basis.
- WCJC Talking Points
- Other states have passed similar laws, as described by a Wall Street Journal editorial.
- Written Testimony of Bill McCollum, SNR Denton, Submitted on Behalf of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council and the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform in Support of AB 27/SB 19, Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Judiciary, March 28, 2013.
- WisconsinEye’s video of the March 28, 2013 hearing on AB 27.
- Excerpt from The Rule of Lawyers by Walter K. Olson discussing tobacco settlement fees awarded to attorneys in Wisconsin.
- How much is an attorney worth? WI bill caps legal contingency fees: Wisconsin Reporter, May 9, 2013.
Limiting Double-Dipping in Personal Injury Cases
Rep. André Jacque (R-DePere) and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) recently introduced SB 13/AB 19, which provides transparency and prevents fraud in lawsuits involving personal injury trusts by creating certain discovery requirements during litigation.
- WCJC Talking Points
- WCJC Background Memo
- A similar law passed late last year in Ohio, as discussed in this Wall Street Journal editorial.
- Video of the April 4, 2013 hearing on AB 19 in the Assembly Committee on Judiciary from WisconsinEye
- Bill would put restrictions on asbestos suits: Associated Press, April 4, 2013.
- Testimony of Trevor Will to the Assembly Judiciary Committee regarding SB13/AB19, April 4, 2013.
- Testimony of Marc Scarcella to the Assembly Judiciary Committee regarding SB13/AB19, April 4, 2013.
- Response to Groups Claiming that the Bill Negatively Affects Veterans, April 22, 2013.
- Explanation of Amendments to AB 19
Physician’s Duty of Informed Consent in Wisconsin: Overturning Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund
AB 139/SB 137, authored by Rep. Jim Ott and Sen. Glenn Grothman, overturns a negative Wisconsin Supreme Court decision (Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund) dealing with a physician’s duty of informed consent.
- WCJC’s case brief of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Jandre decision
- Wisconsin Hospital Association testimony in support of SB 137, April 11, 2013.
- Wisconsin Medical Society testimony in support of SB 137, April 11, 2013.
Lemon Law Reforms
Rep. Kramer and Sen. Petrowski are circulating legislation relating to revisions to Wisconsin’s Lemon Law.
- Coalition memo supporting the legislation.
- Press Releases from Coalition Members:
- Auto Alliance: Automakers Applaud Lemon Law Reform Legislation, April 30, 2013.
- Recreation Vehicle Industry Association: RV Industry Supports Lemon Law Reform By Wisconsin Legislature, April 30, 2013.
- Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association: Truck and Engine Manufacturers Support Lemon Law Reform in Wisconsin, April 30, 2013.
- Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce: WMC Calls for Lemon Law Reform Predatory “Lemon Lawyers” Squeezing Consumers, April 30, 2013.
- Wisconsin Lemon Law Reform Q&A, May 2, 2013.
- GOP bill would limit damages under Wis. lemon law: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 3, 2013.
- Proposal would peel back Wisconsin lemon law: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 7, 2013.
- Lemon law king Vince Megna targets GOP lawmakers in new video: Capital Times, May 13, 2013.
- Video Speaks to Character of Wisconsin’s ‘Lemon Law King’ Now Fighting Reform: ATRA, May 13, 2013.
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.
Tort Reform Update: Recently Enacted Legislative Reforms and State Court Challenges, written by WCJC’s Andy Cook was published by the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies in its January 2013 State Court Docket Watch.