2011-2012 Legislative Session

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 and here to see a list of the reforms.

The bills listed below are ones WCJC actively lobbied for or against, and additional information and analysis is provided.

Fair Employment Act – Convicted Felons

Fair Employment Act – Compensatory and Punitive Damages

Factors Determining Reasonable Attorney Fees

Trespasser Responsibility Act

Setting Reasonable Interest on Judgments

Adoption of more reasonable product liability standards for manufacturers and sellers.

Elimination of the deeply flawed “risk contribution” theory in manufacturing lawsuits.

Adoption of sound science principles (Daubert principles).

Limits on punitive damages.

Sanctions on frivolous lawsuits.

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.

Andrew Cook, Legislative Director of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council and a lobbyist and attorney with the Hamilton Consulting Group, was asked to present his paper Fairly Allotting Liability Among Defendants at the August 2 meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council in New Orleans.

Special Legislative Committee Studies Judicial Discipline and Recusal – The Wisconsin Supreme Court in the 2009-10 term issued a number of controversial decisions, two of which had to do with how the Court itself operates and how justices are disciplined.

This memorandum provides an overview of the significant changes instituted by Act 2 to Wisconsin’s civil liability law in areas of product liability, expert witness testimony, risk contribution, frivolous law suits, punitive damages, and health care quality improvement programs. Additional information  is available on our issue page.

The Summer 2011 edition of the Federalist Society’s State Court Docket Watch features an article co-authored by Andrew Cook and  Emily Kelchen titled State Court Challenges to Legislatively Enacted Tort Reforms. The article provides a summary of recent state supreme court cases in which opponents of civil liability reform have challenged reform laws, mostly on constitutional grounds. The article also provides a summary of the recent reforms in Wisconsin law and an analysis of past Wisconsin reforms that were found unconstitutional.