Monday, January 16, 2006


Doyle Veto Jeopardizes Manufacturing Jobs
Illinois Trial Lawyers Already Suing State Firms

MADISON – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Friday criticized Governor Jim Doyle for vetoing a bill overturning a Supreme Court ruling that created a “guilty-until-proven-innocent” standard for all manufacturers in some lawsuits.

“Clearly, without this legislation, Wisconsin is becoming a magnet for personal injury lawyers from other states who don’t care how many jobs they kill,” said James A. Buchen, vice president of government relations for WMC. “This bill protects all manufacturers who are now sitting ducks for trial lawyers.”

At least 13 Wisconsin companies have been sued so far under the new court ruling. None of those firms produced lead paint. “This is only the beginning of what experts believe will be an avalanche of lawsuits using this bizarre legal theory,” Buchen said.

Doyle vetoed SB 402 – The Job Preservation Act – Friday in Milwaukee. The bill would have re-established the nearly 1,000-year-old legal tradition that a plaintiff must prove which defendant caused a harm in order to win a claim.

Wisconsin is the only state in the nation that has a “guilty-until-proven-innocent” standard in product liability cases. In 2005, Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector did not expand as rapidly as other sectors, possibly in reaction to new liability standards created by the Supreme Court.

“In the wake of this veto, we hope Governor Doyle will take leadership and offer proactive solutions to our state’s liability crisis and protect jobs for our families,” Buchen said.

The Supreme Court ruling has drawn national attention, including an editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

Jim Pugh, (608) 219-0157


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