October 22, 2014

Bill could delay personal injury lawsuits

Legislation being considered at the state Capitol could lead to delays in personal injury lawsuits, especially those that target businesses over asbestos-related illness claims.

The legislation from state Representative Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) would force a stay in those lawsuits, until the plaintiffs disclose whether they also plan to seek payments from trust funds set up by bankrupt companies. Jacque says it’s intended to allow defendants to fully and fairly defend themselves, by making all liability information available at the start of the process.

The legislation received a hearing at the Capitol Thursday, during which opponents criticized it as an attempt to delay justice. Attorney Jill Rakauski, who has represented several people who developed diseases from asbestos exposure, says it could keep those individuals from ever seeing a resolution to their case.

Rakauski and others say the bill is about protecting businesses from having to compensate the victims they have injured and killed. Jacque denied that’s the case though, and called it a “sickening accusation.”

The bill is currently being considered by a state Assembly committee.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:10)