Assembly Advances Civil Justice Legislation

The Wisconsin Assembly has passed three bills, AB 19, AB 27 and AB 139, that will improve Wisconsin’s litigation climate, making Wisconsin a more attractive place to do business.

Video of the floor debate is available from WisconsinEye.

Personal Injury Trust Claims Transparency (AB 19): The purpose of this legislation is to provide transparency and prevent fraud involving personal injury trusts by creating certain discovery requirements during litigation. Numerous types of personal injury trusts have been created under the federal bankruptcy code and state laws to ensure that injured people can be properly compensated. In some instances, plaintiffs who file (or could file) claims with these personal injury trusts may also seek compensation for their injuries through a second channel – lawsuits against solvent defendants (i.e., businesses) in the courts. The ability of plaintiffs to seek multiple recoveries – without any transparency regarding these multiple recoveries – is what this bill addresses.

“As a state with a strong manufacturing sector, Wisconsin businesses stand to lose if double-dipping and fraud are not limited by the stronger discovery requirements contained in AB 19. The jury deserves to know all the information when it is making an award decision,” said Scott Manley, Secretary of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council and Vice President, Government Relations, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC).

Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TIPAC) (AB 27): The interests of private plaintiffs’ attorneys are not always aligned with the interests of a state and its citizens. Private plaintiffs’ attorneys who are given complete control of litigation may seek settlements and judgments that maximize their profit rather than the benefit to a state and its citizens. And private attorneys have received excessive fees for their work on behalf of states in some cases. This legislation ensures that consumers, victims, and taxpayers receive their fair share of any recovery.

“AB 27 ensures contingency fee contracts with private plaintiffs’ attorneys are awarded openly and that the state and it citizens receive the maximum practicable amount of any settlement or award,” said Bill Smith, President of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council and State Director, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Physician Informed Consent (AB 139): This legislation clarifies a negative Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, dealing with a physician’s duty of informed consent.

“Wisconsin physicians are dedicated to providing quality care of real value to patients,” said Smith. “Addressing the Jandre decision will prevent physicians from having to practice defensive medicine, encouraging efficient, effective, and less costly healthcare,” added Smith.

For more information about each of these bills, visit the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council’s website: