April 7, 2009

There isn't too much litigation in Wisconsin.

Says the University of Wisconsin Law School.
"The notion that somehow civil justice is hurting business in the state is just totally unfounded," said UW law professor emeritus Marc Galanter....

Galanter said one intent of the report was to look at what he called the "consistent drumbeat" put forth by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce... that claimed excessive litigation was hurting the state's business climate.
A Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce spokesman responds:
"It should come as a surprise to no one that the UW Law School is trying to say that we don't have enough litigation in Wisconsin... They have a vested interest in trying to graduate as many future lawyers as they can accommodate. So they have an interest in expressing that point of view."

31 comments:

TosaGuy said...

We will never know all the businesses that didn't locate to Wisconsin because they looked at the lawsuit environment and decided that Wisconsin just wasnt' for them.

SteveR said...

Perhaps its not excessive litigation that is hurting Wiscosin's business climate but the threat of litigation and the costs of preventative action to avoid litigation.

Of course I'm not a smart guy like Mr. Galanter.

traditionalguy said...

Wisconsin needs to let Mexican lawyers into their courts to keep the hourly rates down.

Peter V. Bella said...

"recent State Supreme Court decisions have thrown Wisconsin's economy into a liability crisis… opened the door for manufacturers to be sued even where a plaintiff cannot prove that they (a company) made the product that caused them harm…

Huh? Is this an accurate statement or an opinion? Just curious.

Who would want to manufacture anything in Wisconsin with a decision like that.

American Liberal Elite said...

MORTICIANS FOR EUTHANASIA

tim maguire said...

Too bad he didn't finish that statement with, "just as we have an interest in turning a profit and in opposing those trends that interfere with running a profitable business." Afterall, there wouldn't be a "consistent drumbeat" if there weren't some truth to it. They're mostly busy people.

The Drill SGT said...

I have a great idea on how to increase litigation.

Drop the lawyer licensing requirement. Let anyone practice, and make sure that you allow a free and open legal malpractice process.

That will increase the legal business,increase litigation, lower costs to the normal public and let the law practicers practice on each other. :)

EDH said...

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION,
Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY
OF WISCONSIN SYSTEM,
Defendant-Appellant.

Argued February 15, 2002--Decided April 30, 2002
Following the jury determination that there was a willful violation of the Age Discrimination Act, the UW moved for judgment as a matter of law, as it did following the trial on damages...In addition, the UW contends that it enjoys Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity which should have barred this suit from even going to trial.

Maybe if UW surrendered all its defenses based upon sovereign immunity it would have a little more credibility on the issue.

MadisonMan said...

We will never know all the businesses that did not locate in Wisconsin because they looked at the per capita spending on education and decided it just wasn't enough and that therefore Wisconsin wasn't for them.

We will never know all the businesses that didn't locate to Wisconsin because they looked at the State Penal Codes and decided that Wisconsin just wasn't for them.

We will never know all the businesses that didn't located to Wisconsin because they looked at the weather in Wisconsin and decided that Wisconsin just wasn't for them.

I've often thought that WMC's techniques for advancing the business climate in WI are counterproductive. They should be quietly lobbying the legislature, using easily-shown and easily-proven facts. Instead, they work to hire politicians -- whom they then own -- by throwing around unproven accusations. In the meantime, Wisconsin gains a reputation that I don't think it deserves.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Once Obama passes his carbon tax system most of the manufacturing is going to leave the country anyway.

Don't worry, be happy.

TosaGuy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TosaGuy said...

WMC can be its own worst enemy.

Businesses invest a tremendous amount of research in the places where they want to go. They want to know everything about the place and weigh those facts and make the decision that is best for them. Litigation is an important factor that weighs on those decisions. MadisonMan wants facts, well state liability laws are facts, as is the historical record of past lawsuits.

What rarely happens is when a business decides to go somewhere, it doesn't put out a press release saying we didn't pick Wisconsin because of reasons A, B and C. Instead, it rightfully focuses its energy on the location it did pick.

Some things Wisconsin can't change (weather), others it can (litigation).

MadisonMan said...

Well, the facts, apparently, are that litigation is dropping quickly in Wisconsin. I look forward to WMC's press release noting that.

lawprof2 said...

The WMC is full of hypocrites and wealthy political extremists who have lost touch with reality.

Want to know who usually sues big business? Other business owners! Imagine that. They love to bash lawyers and litigation, when the truth is that they are very often either the plaintiffs in large lawsuits, or the wrong-doing defendants who got caught. Sure, frivolous suits get filed. But they almost always get dismissed very early on.

And please don't link to all of those fake outrageous case results. First, when you track them down, most of them are fake. Second, out of the hundreds of thousands of reasonable lawsuits, you're going to choose one or two bad eggs.

WMC is one of the groups that fund outrageous--and flat wrong-- attack ads for cadidates, including the supreme court. As a result, we have two sitting justices who are unbelievably unqualified, both of whom have had serious breaches in ethics that would cost an ordinary attorney his or her license. Good job, WMC!

rhhardin said...

Way back when, there was a free market idea about regulating product safety. You don't want too much safety because it costs too much, and you don't want too little, designed into products.

The idea was to use the justice system and lawsuits. If people injured by products could sue for damages, then manufacturers would design in just the right amount of safety, balancing cost against features. If the product is too unsafe, lawsuits increase, and payout goes up. If the product is too safe, it costs too much and payout goes up again. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot, where either more safe or less safe reduces profits.

A brilliant idea, and we tried it.

It forgot juries. Juries want not only to compensate injury, which was the original plan; but also to ``send a strong message'' with punitive damages, that unsafety would not be tolerated.

That changed the result. The actual damages were what was needed to find the perfect amount of safety, not populist strong messages.

So as a result, via the legal system, we now have safety set by idiots and morons, encouraged by attorneys for the plaintiff.

A perverse side effect conservatives had not anticipated.

Peter V. Bella said...

...they looked at the State Penal Codes...

MM,
Are the penal codes too tough on criminals or too lenient? Or are the penal codes designed to punish businesses? Just asking as I am not familiar with WI penal codes.

Pete the Streak said...

The present jury system takes 12 citizens off the street, and requires them to make multi-million dollar decisions on design and engineering 'defects' on products as complex as aircraft. Their only education on these disciplines is what they will hear during the course of a product liability trial. It's absurd.

MM, the only opinions that count on Wisconsin's reputation are those of the business/manufacturing concerns that will, or will not locate/remain there.

Revenant said...

Lawyers say there isn't too much litigation! Film at 11.

MadisonMan said...

I think this story is that facts show a decline in litigation, and the conclusion (made by lawyers) is that there isn't too much, which I agree is a debatable conclusion, but you can't argue with the first fact.

Pete (the streak), my point is that WMC goes about changing things in a way that actually runs counter to their goals. As TosaGuy says, they really can be their own worst enemy.

Pogo said...

The problem with liberal thought, and one that affects Obama to a great degree, is that they actually believe that no matter what regulations or taxes or lawsuits are thrown on the goose, they will still get the golden egg.

And they never are aware of their role in its demise.

Take Michigan (please!), fast becoming a third world country because honest folk cannot succeed in business. But they blame the profiteers and capitalist pigs, no doubt.

Cedarford said...

In a follow-up to the story, Attorney Marc Galanter announced that he is suing Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce spokesman for interfering with lawyers livelihood by falsely alledging there is too much litigation.

Revenant said...

can't argue with the first fact [that litigation has declined]

I don't know if that is a fact or not, but I won't argue it.

But a decline in something isn't necessarily an indication that it has become less of a problem. It can indicate that society has accommodated that problem. For example, suppose the government started shooting people who criticized it. I would expect an initial surge in shootings, followed by a steady drop until such shootings were rare. Not because it was any less of a problem that the government shot dissidents, but because people would become afraid to dissent.

I think that's how companies have started to act. The fear of bullshit litigation causes them to back away from useful activities if those activities could expose them to litigation. The litigation rate drops because companies waste enormous wealth desperately trying to avoid it. Good for lawyers, bad for everyone else in the world.

Pogo said...

Perfect, Rev.

dick said...

All you have to do is look at doctors to prove that. Just think of all the unnecessary tests that are run at the doctor's request just because they are afraid of malpractice suits. Chances are that between the cost of malpractice insurance and the unnecessary testing that is going on our medical costs are double what they should be. And still the lawyers file ridiculous lawsuits.

matthew said...

Does it bother anyone else that the WMC's reply to the study is that people who are interested in the outcome can't be trusted.

Doesn't that pretty much mean that the WMC can't be trusted either? They're far more of an interested party than the UW Law School - and especially a single professor who specializes in empirical studies.

WMC has been for years been spreading mis-information (mostly related to WI as a "tax hell") - for years.


http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/article.php?article=6214


http://www.waxingamerica.com/2007/08/your-wisconsin-.html

I have no problem with lobbying, but I wish, along with some people here, that the WMC would not try to force change by mis-representing the business realities of the Wisconsin to all who will listen.

matthew said...

And Rev, you are right - when you assume that the stats and facts don't matter, anything could be what's happening.

Yet I somehow don't believe the most logical analysis of the litigation rate going down is that it's obviously a false number because business are afraid of dissent. Maybe I just believe in Occam's razor more than you do.

And this is especially true after the WMC spend millions in campaigning to change the structure of the WI supreme court.

Revenant said...

And Rev, you are right - when you assume that the stats and facts don't matter, anything could be what's happening.

What I did was illustrate why ONE particular statistic -- the reduction in the rate of lawsuits -- doesn't automatic imply that lawsuits are becoming less of a problem. Certainly some statistics and facts are relevant to a discussion of whether litigation is crippling businesses. But the rate of litigation, taken in isolation, isn't sufficient to establish that it isn't.

Yet I somehow don't believe the most logical analysis of the litigation rate going down is that it's obviously a false number because business are afraid of dissent.

Well, you're wrong. That is the most obvious and logical explanation.

What's your preferred explanation? That despite the increasing number of lawyers, the legal community decided out of the kindness of its heart to not sue as much? That corporate America changed its behavior to avoid lawsuits, but not because it was AFRAID of lawsuits?

Come on, Matt. Share your theory with the group.

EDH said...

lawprof2 said...
The WMC is full of hypocrites and wealthy political extremists who have lost touch with reality.

Want to know who usually sues big business? Other business owners! Imagine that. They love to bash lawyers and litigation, when the truth is that they are very often either the plaintiffs in large lawsuits, or the wrong-doing defendants who got caught. Sure, frivolous suits get filed. But they almost always get dismissed very early on.


I think lawprof2 reveals a lot here about the law school faculty mindset. Specifically, casting the issue within the framework of Marxian class struggle.

What proponent of tort reform has ever argued that capitalists suing other capitalists isn't part of the problem? The issue is simply the human and economic cost of one party using litigation costs to extort money from another party with deep pockets.

A quick, incremental reform: change Rule 68 so that "reasonable attorney fees" are included in the "costs" deducted from a jury verdict that is less than a prior Offer of Judgment by the defendant to settle the claim, payable jointly and severably by the plaintiff and his lawyer.

Watch the trial lawyers squirm.

Revenant said...

I think lawprof2 reveals a lot here about the law school faculty mindset. Specifically, casting the issue within the framework of Marxian class struggle.

Well said. Arguing that lawsuits can't be bad for business because businesses file most of the lawsuits is like arguing that murder can't be bad for people because the murderers are people too.

EDH said...

Even better said.

bob said...

Our small high school in Iowa -- Waukee High -- is being sued by Univ of Wisconsin because our W logo looks like theirs. Clearly, they have too many law schools there.