For Manufacturing Jobs in Wisconsin, Civil Justice Reform

By January 10, 2011Briefly Legal

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the NAM’s partner in the Badger State, has come out in strong support of a package of civil justice reform measures proposed by new Gov. Scott Walker and legislative Republicans. Introduced on Jan. 6 in Assembly, the bill is Assembly Bill 1 . The Assembly’s Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 11.

The bill proposes the following, the WMC reports:

  • Adoption of various changes to product liability law to bring Wisconsin in line with other states and assist Wisconsin manufacturers and small businesses.
  • Requiring expert witnesses to base their opinions on sound science and well-established theories.
  • Elimination of the “risk contribution” theory in manufacturing lawsuits. The Wisconsin Supreme Court created the standard allowing plaintiffs to sue any lead paint manufacturer that sold paint in the state without proving which product caused the harm.
  • Heightened standards for the award of punitive damages.

In a release, James A. Buchen, WMC vice president of government relations, said: “These are common sense reforms that will ensure our legal system is fair and predictable so that employers can be confident that they won’t be sued out of business. These reforms will improve our business climate and will help encourage job creation while protecting victims.”

The Wisconsin Bar Association, which opposes many of the provisions, still did a good job summarizing the bill in a report, “Republicans introduce omnibus tort reform bill, public hearing scheduled for Tuesday.” More …

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