Financial Exploitation Cause of Action Legislation Introduced

Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Racine) has introduced legislation (SB 41) that would create a new civil cause of action for financial exploitation of a vulnerable person. The bill awards prevailing plaintiffs treble damages (economic and noneconomic), attorney fees, and fees for services of any guardian ad litem incurred because of the litigation.

The bill allows the injured vulnerable person, the person’s guardian, or a representative of the person’s estate to bring an action for financial exploitation. SB 41 defines “vulnerable person” as an elderly, financially incapable, or incapacitated person, or a person with a disability who is susceptible to coercion because of his or her impairment.

According to Wirch’s cosponsorship memo, the bill is modeled after an Oregon law. Only three other states (Arizona, California, and Florida) have adopted similar laws.

SB 41 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition to Wirch, the bill has 12 Democratic cosponsors – three senators and nine assembly representatives.