WMC - Wisconsin's Business Voice

Government Issues & Policy

Civil Justice

Legislative Bill Tracking Report: Civil Justice

Jason Culotta, Director of Tax & Transportation Policy
Bill Number/Author Summary/Status WMC Position
AB 19/SB 13 - (Jacque/Grothman)
Bill Text
Bill History
Summary: This legislation provides transparency in claims made against personal injury trusts created under the federal bankruptcy code and also filed in the tort system against existing businesses.  This legislation does not deny plaintiffs access to proper compensation but does limit the ability to seek multiple recoveries for the same claim.
Status: Assembly Bill 19 received a public hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 4th and a substitute amendment with a clarifying amendment was voted out of committee on May 1st by a 6-2 margin. The bill was placed on the Assembly floor on May 8th and passed on a party-line 58-39 vote.
Support
AB 27/SB 19 - (Kuglitsch/Grothman)
Bill Text
Bill History
Summary: This legislation requires the state to make a written determination that outside representation is cost-effective and in the public good.  The bill also ensures that government attorneys maintain control of the litigation and places a cap on attorney fees paid under a contingency fee contract basis with the state.  The contingency fee contract, payments made under the contract, and the state’s determination of need for outside counsel would be posted online.
Status: Assembly Bill 27 received a public hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on March 28th and was voted out of committee with a clarifying amendment on April 4th by a 5-3 vote.  The bill was placed on the Assembly floor on May 8th and passed on a 60-36 vote. Companion Senate Bill 19 received a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee on April 11th and voted Assembly Bill 27 out of committee on October 1st by a margin of 4-1. The full Senate approved the bill on October 8th by a vote of 23-10 and it was signed into law by Governor Walker as 2013 Wisconsin Act 105 on December 13th.
Support
AB 29/SB 22 - (Jacque/Farrow)
Bill Text
Bill History
Summary: Several Wisconsin Supreme Court rulings presently allow for billed amounts  (collateral source or third-party payments) to be revealed to juries in personal injury cases, but not the actual costs of payments made for the injured person’s obligations or reimbursement resulting from these payments.  The difference between the billed amounts and the actual payments are referred to as “phantom damages.” This legislation allows actual payments to be admitted into evidence along with the billed amounts, rather than just the billed amounts as allowed under current law.
Status: Assembly Bill 29 received a public hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 11th and has had no action since that time. Companion Senate Bill 22 was referred to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee and has not yet received a public hearing.
 Support
AB 120/SB 129 - (Severson/Vukmir)
Bill Text
Bill History
Summary: This legislation protects statements of condolence or apology by health care providers to patients and families from being in a lawsuit.
Status: Assembly Bill 120 received a public hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on May 29th and was voted out of committee with a clarifying amendment on June 5th by a 7-4 vote. Companion Senate Bill 129 was referred to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.  No action has yet been taken on the bill.
 Support
AB 139/SB 137 - (J. Ott/Grothman)
Bill Text
Bill History
Summary: This bill is a legislative response to the Jandre decision issued by the state Supreme Court in 2012.  That decision created a new “reasonable patient standard” for physicians to provide informed consent to patients.  The new standard would force physicians to engage in defensive medicine practices that would drive up the cost of health care for those paying premiums. This legislation would re-establish the law in effect prior to the Court’s decision and avert the increase to health care costs which would inevitably result from that ruling.
Status: Assembly Bill 139 received a public hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 11th and was voted out of committee on April 25th by a 6-2 vote. The bill was placed on the Assembly floor on May 8th and passed with a clarifying amendment on a 65-31 vote. Companion Senate Bill 137 received a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee on April 11th.  Assembly Bill 139 was approved by the Senate committee with an amendment on October 9th by a vote of 3-2.  The full Senate passed the amended bill on October 15th; the Assembly concurred in the amendment on November 5th.  Governor Walker signed the bill into law as 2013 Wisconsin Act 111 on December 13th.
Support
AB 161/SB 154 - (Craig/Grothman)
Bill Text
Bill History
Summary: Under current law, a judicial injunction may not be stayed after the entry of a judgment or while an appeal is outstanding. This legislation makes an injunction that suspends or restrains the enforcement of a state law subject to immediate appeal to the state Supreme Court or an appellate court.  The bill also allows for a judicial injunction to be stayed if certain actions are taken by the Supreme Court or an appellate court.
Status: Assembly Bill 161 received a public hearing in the Assembly Government Operations and State Licensing Committee on May 1st and was voted out of committee on May 8th by a 7-4 vote. The bill was placed on the Assembly floor on June 6th and passed with a 57-39 vote.  The bill has now been referred to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee. Companion Senate Bill 154 received a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee on May 2nd and was voted out of committee on August 20th by a 3-1 vote.  Either bill is available for scheduling in the Senate.
 Support
AB 200/SB 182 - (Kramer/Petrowski)
Bill Text
Bill History
Summary: Wisconsin currently has the only lemon law in the nation that requires mandatory double damages rather than requiring replacement with a comparable vehicle or a cash refund for the purchase value of the car as other states provide.  This distinction is symbolic of the challenging business climate particular to our state. This legislation provides a more balanced approach to the lemon law by repealing double damages, reducing the statute of limitations from six years to three, and allowing manufacturers 45 days to provide a replacement vehicle and 120 days for a heavy-duty truck rather than the 30 days provided for either under current law.  The 30-day refund period allowed under current law is retained. The bill contains several other provisions designed to resolve disputes pertaining to lemon vehicles. A balanced lemon law serves the public interest.  The current state law has been abused by lemon lawyers to run up huge costs to manufacturers exceeding up to ten times the replacement cost of a lemon vehicle.  This law is long overdue for reform.
Status: Assembly Bill 200 received a public hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on May 29th and a substitute amendment was voted out of committee on June 5th by a 6-2 vote. The bill was placed on the Assembly floor on June 12th and passed with a clarifying amendment by a vote of 88-8.  The bill was referred to the Senate Transportation Committee, received a public hearing on July 18th, and was passed out of committee on August 22nd by a 5-0 vote. The full Senate passed Assembly Bill 200 on September 17th with a margin of 32-1.  The bill was signed into law by Governor Walker on December 13th as 2013 Wisconsin Act 101.
 Support
AJR 67/SJR 57 (Hutton/Tiffany)
Bill Text
Bill History
Summary: The selection of the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court is currently done based on seniority.  As amended by the Senate, this constitutional amendment would remove seniority as the basis for selecting the Chief Justice. To become law, a constitutional amendment requires two consecutive legislatures to adopt identical language that is then placed before voters in a referendum for approval.  This legislation would be the first consideration of this amendment. Status: Assembly Joint Resolution 67 received a public hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on October 29th and was voted out of committee by a 5-3 margin on October 31st. Senate Joint Resolution 57 received a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 24th and was passed out of committee by 3-2 vote on October 29thThe full Senate passed the constitutional amendment on November 12th with an amendment by a margin of 18-15.  The Assembly adopted the amendment on November 14th by a 54-38 vote.  Support

Click here to view Bill Tracking for Civil Justice - Legislative Session 2011-12