2009-2010 Legislative Session

Assembly Bill 792/Senate Bill 447 – False Claims

Allows private parties to file lawsuits on behalf of the state alleging that a person knowingly presented a false claim and deceived the state for the purpse of getting a false claim paid. See WCJC’s written testimony.

Assembly Bill 480/Senate Bill 319 – Gender-based Acts

AB 480 creates a new civil cause of action for a person who suffers physical, emotional or economic harm as a result of a gender-based act. See WCJC’s written testimony.

Assembly Bill 453 – Reviver Statute for Child Abuse Claims

AB 453 would provide a three-year reviver window for plaintiffs to file childhood sexual abuse claims, regardless of the previous expiration of the statute of limitations. The bill also would eliminate the applicable statute of limitations prospectively.

Key Documents

WCJC Testimony in Opposition to AB 453

ATRA Testimony in Opposition to AB 453

State Proposals to Eliminate Statutes of Limitations (and Do So Retroactively) in Child Sexual Abuse Cases – Talking Points

Assembly Bill 291/Senate Bill 203 – Loss of Society and Companionship in Medical Malpractice Cases

AB 291 and SB 203 add a new section (Wisconsin Statutes § 655.018) allowing adult children to recover for damages for the loss of society and companionship “against the person who committed the medical malpractice.” The bill also would allow a parent of an adult child to recover damages against the person who committed medical malpractice. The bill also amends Wis. Stat. § 655.007 by adding the words “adult or minor” child.

Key Documents

WCJC Memo to Senate – Opposition to SB 203, Jan. 19, 2010

Wisconsin Civil Justice Council Written Testimony in Opposition to SB 203/AB 291

Wisconsin Medical Society Written Testiomony in Opposition to SB 203/AB 291

Assembly Bill 367 – Prohibiting the Use of Credit Histories for Employment Purposes

AB 367 would prohibit employment discrimination based credit history. The bill provides a narrow exception where circumstances of an individual’s credit history are “substantially related to the circumstances of a particular job or licensed activity” and where the employment “depends on the bondability of the individual and the individual may not be bondable due to his or her credit rating.” Would also allow an applicant to sue an employer that violates the law to seek punitive and compensatory damages of up to $300,000, including actual damages, court costs, and attorney fees.

Key Documents

Wisconsin Civil Justice Council – Written Testimony in Opposition to AB 367 – Aug. 27, 2009

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce – Written Testimony in Opposition to AB 367 – Aug. 27, 2009

Consumer Data Industry Association – Memorandum Opposing AB 367 – Aug. 21, 2009

2009 Budget (AB 75) – Contributory Negligence

Key Documents

Wisconsin Editorial Boards Agree: Remove Liability Provisions from State Budget

Joint Memo to Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus on Liability Provisions in Budget – June 15, 2009

Memo to Wisconsin Senate on Liability Provisions in the Budget – June 15, 2009

Memo to Wisconsin Assembly Members on Liability Provisions in the Budget – June 9, 2009

Memo to Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Caucus on Liability Provisions in the Budget – June 5, 2009

Joint Finance Liability Motion Analysis – June 3, 2009. These changes are NOT a compromise; in fact, they worsen Gov. Doyle’s budget provisions in a convoluted scheme that benefits only trial lawyers. These provisions create legal traps never before seen in Wisconsin and to say they merely revert to Wisconsin law prior to the 1995 reforms is false. Wisconsin citizens and businesses will be litigation targets in ways not seen in any other state.

Legal Opinion on JFC Joint and Several Liability “Compromise” (Noreen Parrett) – June 3, 2009.

Memo to Wisconsin Assembly Regarding Joint Finance Changes to Liability Provisions – June 2, 2009

Wisconsin Medical Society – Memo to Assembly Regarding Medical Liability Change in Budget – June 2, 2009

Memo to Joint Committee on Finance Regarding Liability Provision in State Budget – May 26. 2009

Memo Wisconsin Legislators Regarding Liability Provisions in Budget and Editorial Board Positions – WCJC, May 13, 2009.

Memo to Wisconsin Legislators Requesting Removal of Contributory Negligence Provisions from Budget – WCJC, Mar. 24, 2009.

2009 Budget Bill – Contributory Negligence Provisions – Fact Sheet

Bi-Partisan Poll shows Strong Opposition Across Political Spectrum – April 6, 2009.

Budget Pages Containing Policy Provisions – AB 75, with LRB Analysis.

1995 Reform Legislation (SB-11/Act 17), with legislative history and roll call votes. AB 75 would repeal 1995 Act 17 that unlike AB 75 had public hearings, the full deliberation of elected officials, and passed by wide bi-partisan support (24-8 in the Senate and 69-27 in the Assembly).

Midwestern States’ Joint and Several Liability Laws – Table summarizing the various forms of joint and several liability laws of the 12 Midwest Governor’s Association states.

Wisconsin Joint and Several Liability Cases – Examples in Wisconsin where a defendant, despite being minimally at fault, was responsible for paying close to all of the damages.

See the list of Groups Oppposing the contributory negligence provisions in the Budget.

Sample Documents

Other Wisconsin Groups and Their Positions on Civil Justice Issues

See the list of Groups Oppposing the contributory negligence provisions in the Budget.

Local Governments

Wisconsin Restaurant Association

City of Milwaukee

Wisconsin Tourism Federation – Tom Diehl

Alliance of Wisconsin Retailers

Tyrol Basin (Jonathan Barry)

Wisconsin Insurance Alliance

Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association

Wisconsin Hospital Association

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce

Wisconsin Defense Counsel

Wisconsin Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau

Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accounts

Wisconsin Railroad Committee

Wisconsin Supreme Court Decisions

Wisconsin Supreme Court: No Right to Jury Trial under Wisconsin’s Family or Medical Leave Act Harvot v. Solo Cup Co. & Solo Cup Operating Co., 2009 WI 85. (July 17, 2009).

Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled (5-2) ruled that the Wisconsin Family or Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) does not grant a right to jury civil trial in an action to recover damages.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules on Lemon Law Tammi v. Porsche Cars North America, Inc., 2009 WI 83 (July 17, 2009).

Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a consumer who brings a claim under Wisconsin’s Lemon Law, who then decides to purchase the defective vehicle, is not entitled to recover the amount the purchase price.

Strict Products Liability Claim Rejected by High CourtHorst v. Deere & Co., 2009 WI 75 (July 14, 2009).

The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed (4-2) an appeal from a lower court that Deer & Company was not liable under strict products liability for an injury caused to a bystander.

Supreme Court Upholds Dismissal of Lead Pigment Design Defect Claim Godoy v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. 2009 WI 78 (July 14, 2009).

Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the circuit court in Milwaukee correctly concluded that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a claim of defective design of white lead carbonate pigment ultimately used in paint and coatings. The ruling upheld the dismissal of design defect claims in a suit alleging that certain manufacturers are liable under theories of strict (product) liability and negligence.

Other Issues

Lead Paint Update