Much media has been given to the so-called “stimulus package” recently passed and signed into law without members of Congress or the President knowing fully what was contained in the over 1500 pages. Evidently, no one read the whole bill before taking the decisive action.
A similar approach seems to be occurring here in Wisconsin. Buried in the governor’s budget bill (A 75 2009-2010 Legislature), at pages 1588 and 1605, are significant modifications of state tort law that have as much to do with the state budget as chewing gum has to do with nuclear fusion.
Section 3223 of the bill contains a provision requiring the court to explain to a jury “the effect on awards and liabilities of the percentage of negligence found by the jury to be attributable to each party.” Translation: “If you find the plaintiff more negligent than that rich old defendant, the plaintiff and his or her lawyer won’t recover a dime!” Aren’t juries supposed to be finders of fact and not charity institutions?
Section 3271 of the bill changes the Wisconsin comparative negligence rule in two significant respects.