Family Justice Bill Gains Bi-Partisan Support 

Legislation to Remove Legal Double-Standard Will Get Vote in Full Senate

MADISON - The Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers, soon to be the Wisconsin Association for Justice, today praised the members of the State Senate Health, Human Services, Insurance and Job Creation Committee after they voted 6-1 to pass Senate Bill 138, known as the Family Justice Bill, out of committee. 

The legislation would amend a current law that denies the parents of a single adult child, or the adult children of unmarried or widowed parents to seek recourse for medical malpractice through the civil justice system.  Wisconsin is one of just handful of states with such a law and it is considered to be the most restrictive.

"A bi-partisan majority of the Committee cast a vote in favor of justice for all Wisconsin families and we applaud them for doing so," said Association President Christine Bremer Muggli.  "We would hope for unanimous support on the Family Justice Bill when it reaches the Senate floor.  You have to wonder how anyone could believe that parents shouldn't be able to seek justice when their child dies as a result of medical negligence."

Under the current law, for example, if a developmentally disabled young woman, who was 19-years old, single and living at home under the care of her parents, were to die due to a doctor's negligence - the parents would be unable to file a wrongful death claim and seek justice for her death.  If the young lady were 17 at the time her parents would have a claim and could seek justice.

It is important to note that the Family Justice Bill does not expand the number of people who can file a claim to more members of the same family.  Rather, it ensures all families are treated the same way, and are able to hold the wrongdoer accountable.  The law would continue to require proof that family members show they have suffered a loss of society and companionship, and a jury would make the final decision of whether damages should be awarded.

"Under Wisconsin's current law a family can take a case to court when a doctor causes the death of a married parent, but not a widowed or divorced parent," said Bremer Muggli.  "This illogical double-standard must be removed from Wisconsin law to ensure all families are able to seek justice when they have been wronged."

With the Committee's passage, Senate Bill 138 will be available for a floor vote in the State Senate.

"The Association will continue to stand up for the right of all Wisconsin citizens to seek justice, even when taking on the most powerful interests," said Bremer Muggli.  "We thank the committee members who voted in favor of this important legislation, but our efforts will not end until the Family Justice Bill is signed into law."


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