Governor Walker Signs Civil Justice Reforms into Law

Building off of the historic reforms signed into law in 2011-12, Gov. Scott Walker on Friday, December 13 signed three more important civil justice reforms into law.

Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting: Authored by Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), Act 105 reins in excessive attorneys’ fees by setting tiers for contingency fees as a percent of recovered amounts ranging from 25% to 5%. Transparency is achieved through the requirement that a copy of the executed fee contract be posted online. In addition, the private attorney must maintain time records and keep detailed records of expenses, disbursements, etc. for four years after the contract terminates.

Physician’s Duty of Informed Consent: Authored by Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), Act 111 protects Wisconsin physicians and hospitals from unnecessary and costly lawsuits. Passed on a bipartisan vote, the Act overturns the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund and clarifies the proper standard for physicians when informing patients of alternate medical modes of treatment and about the benefits and risks of those treatments.

Lemon Law Reforms: Authored by Rep. Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) and Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), Act 101 removes Wisconsin’s previously dubious reputation of having the worse lemon law in the nation. The new law makes a number of changes, including: 1) eliminating mandatory double damages, 2) adding time for manufacturers to deliver a comparable vehicle, 3) reducing the statute of limitations, 4) adding a good faith requirement, and 5) clarifying what it means for a vehicle to be out of service.