Lawsuit reforms raise concerns
Wisconsin Radio Network
by Andrew Beckett
January 6, 2011
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:18)
A group representing Wisconsin’s trial lawyers is worried about proposed lawsuit reforms from the Governor Walker.
The series of changes to state law would help shield businesses from lawsuits, which Walker says will create a more job friendly legal environment. However, Wisconsin Association for Justice President Mike End argues they will only weaken laws protecting the public, and make it even harder for those injured or the families of those killed by negligence to be compensated.
End also questions whether the bill will help to create jobs in Wisconsin, the stated goal of the special session ordered by the Governor this week. He says the changes would protect businesses from liability if a product is made outside of Wisconsin, so those doing business in the state would have an even greater motivation to manufacture their goods in other places. End says it’s more likely to create jobs in China than in Wisconsin.
The proposed bill would also increase the burden of proof for collecting punitive damages, requiring plaintiffs to prove the defendant intended to cause harm. End says that’s almost impossible to do because there’s almost no way to show someone, such as a drunk driver, actually planned to go out and injure someone.
The measure is one of several included in the Governor’s special session agenda.