Crowd Urges Lawmakers to Reject Governor's Changes to Civil Lawsuits

By Marcie Kobriger
Jan. 11, 2011

State legislators met in special session in Madison Tuesday and heard the public's thoughts on Governor Scott Walker's first proposals.

The governor's first four proposals are up for discussion at the Capitol. All, he says, are designed to improve the state's economy or jobs outlook.

Public hearings were held about tax, franchise, and business credits, but one bill, which would make significant changes to civil lawsuits, is being met with staunch opposition.

"It deals with really accountabilities and relieving people of accountabilities, and I don't believe that's right," said Richard Witt, who opposes the bill.

Witt was among a crowd at the Capitol urging lawmakers to vote down the bill.

He says his wife survived five types of cancers, but it was time spent in a long-term care facility that he says killed her.

"She took an unattended fall, hit her head on the floor while she was standing there, and the next day passed away," he said.

One provision in the proposed bill would cap the amount for which Witt and others could sue long-term care facilities.

While the opposition says the bill could let those at fault off the hook, the governor's chief legal counsel defends it, saying it could make Wisconsin's businesses healthier.

"Litigation is a cost for job creators. The higher the cost of litigation, the more difficult it is for businesses to flourish and create more jobs," Brian Hagedorn said.

Governor Walker is urging quick action on the proposal. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill next week.

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