For Immediate Release: Friday, October 21, 2011
For More Information, Contact: Jane Garrot, Executive Director, (608) 257-5741

Consumers Get Less, Advantage to Big Businesses: Walker’s Anti-Consumer Legislation Up for Hearing Today

MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Assembly Judiciary & Ethics Committee will hold a hearing today on a proposal to cut the rate of interest consumers may receive on civil judgments yet maintain them for local governments, businesses, banks, insurance companies and credit card companies.

Special Session Bill 14 would limit the amount consumers can receive in interest from insurers or wrongdoers on tort and consumer judgments to 1 percent plus prime rate – presently equaling 4.25 percent – while keeping Wisconsin’s current 12 percent for judgments owed by consumers.

“This proposal discriminates against Wisconsin consumers in favor of big businesses,” said Ed Vopal, president-elect of the Wisconsin Association for Justice (WAJ).  “And to include this proposal in a special session on job creation is wrong.”

Wisconsin consumer groups, including WisPIRG, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, and the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, have signed a letter stating their opposition to the legislation, which is being promoted as a “job-creating” bill.

Current law provides an incentive to pay judgments on time, while the change would give insurance companies, for example, reason to delay payment on claims.

“As lawyers who represent injured consumers, we at the Wisconsin Association for Justice are not only in favor of fairness in our courtrooms, but also in our economy,” Vopal said.  “This bill is a direct attempt to further stack the deck in favor of businesses against Wisconsin citizens.  It has nothing to do with getting people back to work in Wisconsin.”

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The Mission of the Wisconsin Association for Justice is to promote a fair and effective justice system - one that ensures justice for all, not just a privileged few.

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