Trial lawyers say too many immunity laws mean fewer people get their day in court.
The leader of a group representing trial lawyers says criminal immunity makes it difficult to get justice. “What we’re trying to do is educate the public that when you grant immunity to someone, you allow them to be as irresponsible as you want them to be and it’s going to be the taxpayer who pays the freight if someone else doesn’t pay when they are specifically responsible.”
Chris Stombaugh is president of the Wisconsin Association for Justice. A bill (AB-447) at the state Capitol would protect heroin users who call 911 to report an overdose. Stombaugh is in “total agreement” with such good Samaritan laws. He says, “We support that fully 100 percent. You know when there’s a greater good that is being served, it makes sense.”
Also, he says, immunity for first responders is good policy; but, shooting ranges (AB-691), for example, should not be granted immunity from a civil lawsuit. Stombaugh also cites the Castle Doctrine, signed into law two years ago, as bad policy. Immunity is a license to be careless, he says, and there are no civil consequences.
Supporters argue immunity is needed in cases of self-defense and for certain recreational activities, including hunting, operating ATVs, ballooning, climbing observation towers, and sport shooting.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:33