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WMC Urges Senate Passage of Lawsuit Reforms

MADISONWisconsin’s largest business group Tuesday urged the state Senate to pass comprehensive lawsuit reform to improve the state’s business climate.

“Passage of these common sense reforms will bring Wisconsin’s legal system into the mainstream and encourage businesses to create jobs,” said James A. Buchen, vice president of government relations for WMC. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce represents 3,500 companies that have 500,000 employees.

Buchen participated in a Capitol news conference Tuesday morning shortly before the state Senate was slated to vote on the legislation. A coalition of business groups and individual businesses also participated in the news conference.

The lawsuit reforms have been proposed by Governor Scott Walker and lawmakers as part of a series of initiatives aimed at improving the state’s business climate. Walker called the Legislature into special session earlier this month to pass the bills.

“The legal reforms are mainstream and common sense,” Buchen said. “Governor Walker’s reforms will send a message to employers that our state is serious about improving our business climate.”

Governor Walker and legislative sponsors of the lawsuit reforms are proposing:

  • Adoption of various changes to product liability law to bring Wisconsin in line with other states and assist Wisconsin manufacturers and small businesses.
  • Requiring expert witnesses to base their opinions on sound science and well-established theories.
  • Elimination of the “risk contribution” theory in manufacturing lawsuits. The Wisconsin Supreme Court created the standard allowing plaintiffs to sue any lead paint manufacturer that sold paint in the state without proving which product caused the harm.
  • A cap on punitive damage awards.

“We need to pass these mainstream reforms quickly and get them to the governor’s desk so he can sign them into law and we can put families back to work,” Buchen said.

James A. Buchen, (608) 258-3400

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