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.
2013 Wisconsin Act 101 -- Changes in Wisconsin's Lemon Law
2013 Wisconsin Act 101 was signed by Governor Walker on December 13 and published on December 14.
The new law changes Wisconsin's Lemon law in the following ways:
- Limits the amount of time a consumer would have to file suit from 6 years to 3 years.
- Eliminates mandatory double damages compensation ro manufacturers who didn't meet the 30 day deadline to replace or refund the cost of the vehicle to consumers.
- Creates a definition of "out of service":
- The vehicle is in the possession of the manufacturer, lessor or dealer to repair a nonconformity; or
- The vehicle is in the consumer’s possession and the vehicle has a nonconformity that substantially affects the use or safety of the vehicle.
- If the consumer requests a refund, manufacturers must provide the refund with a check within 30 days. If a refund is provided, there is no deduction for reasonable allowance for use.
- If the consumer requests a replacement vehicle, the manufacturer has 30 days to agree in writing to provide the vehicle or a refund of the full purchase price plus other taxes, fee and collateral costs. It then gives the manufacturer 15 days – 45 days total – to provide the comparable new vehicle or refund.
- Creates definition of “heavy-duty vehicle” which is a vehicle more than 10,000 lbs. For heavy duty vehicles, the manufacturer must inform the consumer within 30 days of the notice to provide a comparable vehicle or a refund. The manufacturer than has another 90 days – 120 days altogether – to provide the comparable vehicle or refund.
- If a heavy vehicle consumer enters into a written settlement agreement, then the provisions of the Lemon Law shall not apply to the vehicle.
- If a party failed to reasonably cooperate to meet the obligations of this bill and hinders the other party’s ability to comply, the Court may extend deadlines, reduce damages, attorneys or costs, strike pleadings or enter a default judgment against the offending party.
This new law takes effect on the first day of the 3rd month beginning after publication or March 1, 2014.
Background on bill
2013 Wisconsin Act 101 was introduced as Assembly Bill 200 and Senate Bill 182 by Rep. Bill Kramer and Sen. Jerry Petrowski. The Assembly Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on AB-200 on May 29, 2013. WisconsinEye taped the hearing and it can be viewed here. To view the testimony from the public hearing, click here. On June 12 the State Assembly voted 88-8 to support the amended bill.
The Senate Transportation, Public Safety, and Veteran and Military Affairs Committee held a hearing on July 18. The State Senate concurred in AB-200 on September 17 by a 32-1 vote. The bill was enrolled on September 26.
Click here to view: "WI Attorney: Don’t Change Our Lemon Law" by Tim Morrissey at Wisconsin Public News Service.
Click here to view: "Polticians' plan could make your next new car buy way too expensive" by Terrence Polich.
2013 Wisconsin Act 111 — Changing Wisconsin's Informed Consent Law
2013 Wisconsin Act 111 makes several changes toWisconsin's Informed Consent law, Wis. Stat. § 448.30. The informed consent law requires a physician to inform the patient about the availability of reasonable alternate medical modes of treatment and about the benefits and risks of these treatments. The bill changes the "reasonable patient standard" to a "reasonable physician standard." The reasonable physician standard requires disclosure only of information that a reasonable physician in the same or a similar medical specialty would know and disclose under the circumstances. If the physician fails to inform the patient about reasonable alternate modes of medical treatment, including the benefits and risks of these treatments, the physician failed to use reasonable care and is negligent. The legislature added a new exception: "Information about alternate medical modes of treatment for any condition the physician has not included in his or her diagnosis at the time the physician informs the patient."
Background of legislation:
In 2012, the Supreme Court decided Jandre v. Physicians Insurance Company of Wisconsin, 2012 WI 39, 340 Wis. 2d 31, 813 N.W.2d 627, which 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, 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. Senate Bill 137 and Assembly Bill 139 were introduced in response to this case.
On April 11, 2013 both the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee held public hearings 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 passed the AB-139 on May 8 by a 65-31 vote. Read WAJ's statement on passage.
In Senate, Senator Glenn Grothman introduced an amendment, which revised the bill. AB-139 passed the Senate, as amended, by a voice vote on October 15. The Assembly concurred in the Senate Amendment and passed the revised legislation on November 5. The Governor signed the legislation on December 13. Read WAJ 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.
Check out the Citizen Action of Wisconsin video featuring an injured patient.
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 the 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 substitute 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).
Here 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)
Click 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 asbestos 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.
Assembly Bill 120 and Senate Bill 129 -- I'm Responsible, but Not Accountable Bill
Assembly Bill 120 (AB-120) and Senate Bill 129 (SB-129) were introduced by Rep. Erik Severson and Sen. Leah Vukmir. The bills were referred the Assembly Health Committee and the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.
The Wisconsin Association for Justice (WAJ) believes health care providers should be encouraged to openly express apologies and condolences for unanticipated outcomes with patients and their families. But AB-120/SB-129 go far beyond that. It would make inadmissible statements and conduct that express “fault,” “liability” or “responsibility.”
A foundation of Wisconsin’s system of justice is that people injured by the negligence of another should receive fair compensation for their injuries. Enactment of AB-120/SB-129 without deleting the words “fault,” “liability,” and “responsibility” would make it even more difficult than it already is for Wisconsin citizens injured by medical negligence to recover compensation.
In most states that have “I’m Sorry” legislation, the admission of “fault,” “liability” and “responsibility” would be admissible. (See chart) However under AB-120 it would be inadmissible. Wisconsin would not be in the mainstream with other states if AB-120 passes.
On Wednesday, May 29th, the Assembly Health Committee held a public hearing on AB-120. Jeff Pitman testified against the bill on behalf of WAJ. The hearing is available for viewing on WisconsinEye. (Beginning at time 4:17 and lasts about 2 hours.) Click here to view testimony submitted at the public hearing.
Rep. Severson introduced Assembly Amendment 1, which would limit the inadmissibility of statements to those prior to a legal proceeding or administrative hearing commencing. It still covers expressions of “fault,” “liability” and “responsibility.” At the executive session on June 5, the amendment was adopted 7-4. Representatives Severson, Stone, Sanfelippo, Strachota, August, Kapenga and Petersen supported the amendment and Representatives Pasch, C. Taylor, Kolste and Riemer opposed it.
View Talking Points and Medical Malpractice Facts and I'm Sorry Legislation
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
2011-12 Session Highlights