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.
Fair Employment Act – Convicted Felons
- AB 286/SB 207
- WCJC Fact Sheet
- Milwaukee Board of School Directors v. Labor and Industry Review Commission
- Data on Arrest/Conviction Decisions from the Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC)
- LIRC’s Equal Rights Decision Digest of Arrest/Conviction Decisions
- How Disqualifying Are Conviction Records?, Joe Vanden Plas, In Business: Madison, January 2012, at 32.
- The Unwisdom of the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act’s Ban on Employment Discrimination on the Basis of Conviction Records, Thomas M. Hruz, 85 Marq. L. Rev. 779, 781 (Spring 2002).
- Criminals Escaping Affliction: Gerald Turner and Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Law, Thomas M. Hruz, Wisconsin Interest, Winter 2000, at 7.
- “Fair Employment Act” Protects Convicted Felons, Costs Employers: AB 286/SB 207 would protect businesses by reducing unjustified litigation threats while aligning Wisconsin law with the vast majority of other states. AB 286/SB 207
- Employers, felons fight over hiring bill: Wisconsin Reporter, Oct. 24, 2011.
Fair Employment Act – Compensatory and Punitive Damages
- 2011 Wis. Act 219/AB 289/SB 202
- WCJC Fact Sheet
- 2009 Wisconsin Act 20: Changes to Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Law, Wisconsin Lawyer, September 2009
- Myths v. Facts: SB 202
- Proposed Bill would Repeal Punitive and Compensatory Damages under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act: Last session, Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law 2009 Wisconsin Act 20, which allows circuit courts to award punitive and compensatory damages in cases of employment discrimination, unfair genetic testing, or unfair honesty testing. This legislation would repeal the punitive and compensatory damages. AB 289/SB 202
- Wisconsin legislation could restrict punitive damages for job bias: Green Bay Press Gazette, Oct. 24, 2011.
Factors Determining Reasonable Attorney Fees
- This bill sets forth a number of criteria courts are to consider when awarding attorneys’ fees in fee-shifting cases. The bill also sets a rebuttable presumption that attorneys’ fees are no more than three times compensatory damages.
- 2011 Wis. Act 92 /Special Session SB 12/Special Session AB 12
- Wisconsin Assembly bill would limit attorney fee judgments: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 24, 2011.
Trespasser Responsibility Act
- This bill codifies current law is it relates to the duty of care owed to a trespasser by a possessor of land. The purpose of the bill is to prevent the courts from adopting the new Restatement (Third) of Torts, which expands the duty of care owed to trespassers and exposing possessors of land to greater liability.
- 2011 Wis. Act 93/Special Session AB 22/Special Session SB 22
- WCJC Fact Sheet
- WCJC Supports the Trespasser Responsibility Act: Would codify existing common law as it pertains to a landowners duty of care to trespassers. Special Session AB 22/SB 22.
- Trespasser liability: Wisconsin Legislature votes to codify existing law: State Bar of Wisconsin, Nov. 16, 2011
Setting Reasonable Interest on Judgments
- On November 16, Governor Walker signed Special Session Senate Bill 14 into law. The new law changes Wisconsin’s pre- and post-judgment interest from 12 percent – the highest in the nation – to the Federal Reserve prime rate plus one percent. The final bill included amendments that apply the interest on judgments to all cases – not just tort law-, and set the rate twice a year (January 1 and July 1).
- 2011 Wis. Act 69/Special Session AB 14/Special Session SB 14
- WCJC Fact Sheet
- Setting Reasonable Interest on Judgments: Sets the interest rate on judgments for tort cases and consumer protection cases at one percent plus the prime rate. Special Session Assembly Bill 14/Senate Bill 14.
- Judgment Interest: Bill reducing interest rates on court judgments awaits final signature: State Bar of Wisconsin, Nov. 16, 2011
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).
- 2011 Wisconsin Act 2
- Additional information is available on our issue page.
- Daubert Comes to Wisconsin — CLE Summit on Expert Opinion One of the most important pieces of legislation supported by the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council earlier this year was the adoption of the Daubert standards for the admission of expert opinion evidence, bringing Wisconsin in line with the entire federal system and a majority of states. A comprehensive understanding of decisions and trends from other jurisdictions will be critical for Wisconsin lawyers as the standards are implemented in Wisconsin. In an effort to educate the legal community on these important new standards, WCJC organized and hosted Daubert Comes to Wisconsin – A CLE Summit on Expert Opinion Evidence on January 11, 2012.
Limits on punitive damages.
Sanctions on frivolous lawsuits.
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.