Upon taking office, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker quickly called the Legislature into special session to pass jobs-related legislation, including a major tort reform package. As we report at Point of Law, the Senate is expected to debate the bill on the floor today, the House could act on Thursday, and the legislation could go to the governof for his signature by the end of the week.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, representing the people who create jobs, is proving an effective advocate for the reforms, testifying last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. From WCM, “Lawsuit Reforms Needed to Help Job Creation”
MADISON– Lawsuit reforms proposed by Governor Scott Walker and lawmakers will send a signal to employers that Wisconsin is open for business and is a great place to create jobs, WMC said Tuesday.
“Wisconsin businesses need to know that our legal system is fair and predictable,” said James A. Buchen, vice president of government relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. “Governor Walker has put forward a common sense set of legal reforms that send a message to employers that our state is serious about improving our business climate.”
After being amended by the Senate committee, the bill would impose a cap of punitive damages of twice compensatory damages or $200,000, whichever is greater. State standards of proof would now reflect the Daubert standard, discouraging suits based on “junk science,” and the law’s provisions would be applied prospectively only. The bill would eliminate “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.
In Texas, similar issues — and the results of the 2010 gubernatorial and legislative elections — are encouraging passage of tort reform, as well. From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry, news release, Jan. 13, “Gov. Perry Calls for Expanded Lawsuit Reform in Texas”: (continue reading…)