As an advocate for the legal rights of all Wisconsin citizens, the Wisconsin Association for Justice works with the state legislature and other governmental bodies to preserve our civil justice system and ensure everyone has the ability to seek justice - even when taking on the most powerful wrongdoers.
Senate Bill 22 and Assembly Bill 29 -- Changing the Collateral Source Rule
Senate Bill 22 and Assembly Bill 29 were introduced by Rep. Andre Jacque and Sen. Paul Farrow. The bills were referred to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
On April 11, 2013 the Assembly Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on Ab-29. WisconsinEye taped the hearing. The hearing on teh collateral source rules starts at minute 53 in the 3rd segment. The testimony from the public hearing can be viewed online here.
Testifying against the legislation was Mark Perelshtein, a small business owner from Grafton. Read his story here.
Click to view Talking Points and Press Release.
Click here to read Frank Pasternak's Blog. View Jeff Pitman's column.
Senate Bill 13 and Assembly Bill 19 -- Asbestos Protection Act
Senate Bill 13 and Assembly Bill 19 were introduced by Rep. Andre Jacque and Sen. Glenn Grothman. The bills were referred to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Click to view Talking Points.
On April 4, 2013 the Assembly Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on AB-19. WisconsinEye videotaped the hearing. It begins at part 2 of the hearing. To view the testimony from the public hearing, click here.
Prior to the hearing, groups and individuals opposed to AB-19 held a press conference. It was also videotaped by WisconsinEye. Speaking at the press conference against the bill were:
Robert Kraig, Executive Director, Wisconsin Citizen Action
John Schmitt, President and Business Manager, Wisconsin Laborers’ Council
Keith Kemper, Business Representative, Sheet Metal Workers Local #18
Craig Peachy, State Director, United Transportation Union
Brendan Fischer, Staff Counsel, Center for Media and Democracy
Jeff Pitman, President, Wisconsin Association for Justice
Betty Beyer, her husband, Edmund Beyer, died of mesothelioma
Michael Pollack with clients, Marybeth Nuutinen and Scott Nuutinen, Marybeth's husband and Scott's father died of mesothelioma
On April 11, 2013, the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee held a public on SB-13. Click here to view the testimony submitted at the hearing.
Rep. Ott introduced a Substitute Amendment, (ASA-1) along with a simple amendment to the Substitute Amendment. While some concerns were addressed in ASA-1, the amendment continues to delay cases, still forces plaintiffs to file claims with bankruptcy trusts and treats the submission of a claim with a bankruptcy trust the same as a finding negligence Click here for a full list of objections.
Rep. Wachs introduced a Substitute Amendment (ASA-2) which deals only with discovery issues — requiring plaintiffs to provide information on claims they file with bankruptcy trusts. It does not include any stays or how evidence of the trust claims could be used during the trial. The amendment would only apply to personal injury actions where a person had filed a claim with a bankruptcy trust and not all personal injury actions.
On April 25, 2013, the Assembly Judiciary Committee voted to reject ASA-2 by a 2-6 vote. (Reps. Wachs and Goyke voted in favor. Reps. J. Ott, Jacque, August, Kerkman, Larson and Craig voted against. Rep. Hebl was absent.) The Committee than voted to adopt ASA-1 and recommended passage by a 6-2 vote. (Reps. J. Ott, Jacque, August, Kerkman, Larson and Craig voted in favor. Reps. Wachs and Goyke voted against. Rep. Hebl was absent.)
On May 8th, the State Assembly took up the bill. Democrats introduced two amendments. The first was a subsitute amendment that limited the bill to the discovery of claims filed with bankruptcy trusts. The second was a simple amendment that would have exempted the claims of people who served in the military. Both failed on a party line vote. The bills, as amended in the Judiciary Committee, passed 58-39 (2 not voting).
iHere is a link to the Assembly debate from WisconsinEye. The debate begins at about 1:40:40 and lasts about 1.5 hours. Rep. Hebl reads the letter or Renee Simpson on the Assembly Floor. (At about 2:10 in the debate) Renee is sitting in the Gallery and recognized by her Assembly Representative. (At about 2:20 in the debate)
Clck here to view "Dying to Get Their Day in Court" story by Tim Morrissey of Wisconsin Public News Service on 2/25/13.
Click to view article "Critics say bill would hold up asbesots lawsuits until plaintiffs die" by Steve Elbow of the Capital Times on 3/1/13.
Stories on passage of the bill were carried by a number of outlets: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Daily Reporter, WISC-TV 3, Fox 11, Dubuque Telegrah Herald, Pierce County Herald, and WPR. In addition, here are statements by Rep. Wachs, Rep. Kahl and Rep. Milroy.
Senate Bill 137 and Assembly Bill 139 — Changing Wisconsin's Informed Consent Law
Senate Bill 137 and Assembly Bill 139 guts Wisconsin's Informed Consent law, Wis. Stat. § 448.30. The bill changes the "reasonable patient standard" to a "reasonable physician standard" that requires the disclosure of information that a reasonable physician would know and disclose under the circumstances. The bill also provides that the physician's duty does not require the disclosure of information about alternate medical modes of treatment for a condition that the physician does not believe the patient has at the time the physician informs the patient.
In 2012, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the requirements of the informed consent law that require a physician disclose information necessary for a reasonable person to make an intelligent decision with respect to the choices of treatment or diagnosis. In that particular case, Jandre v. Physicians Insurance Company of Wisconsin, 2012 WI 39, 340 Wis. 2d 31, 813 N.W.2d 627, the doctor diagnosed Bells Palsy, but did not advise the patient of a diagnostic test (a carotid ultrasound) that was available to rule out the possibility of a stroke. Subsequently the patient suffered a massive stroke. The jury did not find the doctor negligent in the diagnosis of Bells Palsy, but did find the doctor violated the informed consent statute in not advising the patient of the test to rule out a stroke. AB-139/SB-137 was drafted in response to this case.
On April 11, 2013 both the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee held a public hearing on the bill. Click here to view the testimony submitted at the Assembly Hearing and click here to view the testimony submitted at the Senate hearing.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee held an Executive Session on AB-139 on April 25, Rep. Wachs introduced Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 (ASA-1) which would leave in place the reasonable physician standard, but delete the provision that eliminates the duty of the physician not to disclose information about alternative medical treatments for a condition the physician does not believe the patient has. ASA-1 was defeated 2-6. (Reps. Wachs and Goyke voted in favor. Reps. J. Ott, Jacque, August, Kerkman, Larson and Craig voted against. Rep. Hebl was absent.)
The Assembly Judiciary Committee took up AB-139 and a motion for passage was adopted 6-2. (Reps. J. Ott, Jacque, August, Kerkman, Larson and Craig voted in favor. Reps. Wachs and Goyke voted against. Rep. Hebl was absent.)
On May 8th the Assembly took up AB-139 for passage. Democrats offered two amendments. The first was a Substitute Amendment that would have established a Blue Ribbon Commission, based on a suggestion from Justice Prosser in his concurring opinion in Jandre v. Physicians Insurance Company of Wisconsin. The Substitute Amendment was defeated.
The second Substitute Amendment, similar to one introduced in Committee, would eliminate the section of the bill that allows a physician not to provide information on alternative medical treatments if the physician does not believe the patient has the condition. The Amendment was defeated.
The bill then passed, unamended, 65-31 (3 people not voting). Read WAJ's statement on passage.
Click for Talking Points and Press Release.
Click here to view, "UW Legal Expert: Proposed Change Puts Patients' Rights at Risk" by Tim Morrissey at Public News Service on 4/24/13.
Click here to view, "Patients' right-to-know at heart of Wisconsin debate" by Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on 4/28/13.
WAJ will lobby legislators on these bills, giving a strong voice to Wisconsin consumers. If you would like to help, please contact your area legislators and make sure they join the Wisconsin Association for Justice in standing with Wisconsin consumers. Here the link to contact your legislators.
In the past legislative session, several bills were introduced that affected the civil justice system. To check what bills WAJ lobbied on, check the Government Accountability Board's website, which lists the bills.
Governor Walker's Attacks on Consumer Rights, 2011-2012
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