The Wis. Legislature just passed the following bill. It is being presented to Governor Walker on April 2, 2018. It makes significant changes to Wis. civil court procedures in the following areas: bill concerns discovery procedures, class action, consumer lending statute of limitations and timely payment of claims.
Here is the law under Assembly Bill 773:
This bill creates detailed procedures relating to class actions where previously Wisconsin had few procedural requirements relating to class actions. The procedures implemented in the bill closely track the federal procedures for filing and maintaining a class action, and are similar to changes proposed by the Wisconsin Judicial Council in 2017 petition number 17-03 to the Supreme Court. The bill creates prerequisites for filing a class action; differentiates between three different types of class actions that may be certified; creates requirements that the court must follow with regard to certifying a class, notifying potential class members, and entering a judgment; enumerates procedures for conducting a class action; requires the court to be involved in settling a class action; describes certain aspects of
appellate procedure for a class action; requires the court to select counsel for the class in a class action; and creates a procedure for recovery of attorney fees.
This bill creates provisions governing consumer lawsuit lending transactions. Under the bill, a “consumer” is an individual who is or may become a plaintiff or claimant in a civil action or other proceeding (dispute). “Consumer lawsuit lending” means 1) providing money to a consumer, for the consumer to use for any purpose other than prosecuting the consumer’s dispute, with repayment of the money
conditioned on and derived from the consumer’s proceeds of the dispute; or 2) purchasing from a consumer a contingent right to receive a share of the potential proceeds of the consumer’s dispute. In a consumer lawsuit lending transaction, all of the following apply: 1) the lender may charge interest at a rate of no more than 18 percent per year; 2) the consumer may prepay the transaction at any time and,
upon prepayment in full, is entitled to a refund of unearned interest charged; 3) the transaction term may not exceed 36 months; 4) the lender may not charge fees of more than $360 per year; 5) the lender may not pay commissions or referral fees to attorneys or health care providers; and 6) there must be a written agreement between the lender and the consumer that contains specified information, including
the interest rate and the consumer’s right to receive a refund of interest charged if prepayment is made in full, as well as provisions that disclose all one-time fees charged to the consumer, disclose the amount to be received by the consumer and the amount the consumer assigns to the lender, state that the consumer has a right to cancel the agreement within five days, state that the lender has no right to make decisions or otherwise participate in the dispute, and state that the lender may be paid only from the consumer’s proceeds of the dispute and is not entitled to be repaid if there are no such proceeds. A lender that violates any of these requirements or restrictions is subject to a civil forfeiture of not less than $25 nor more than $5,000, unless the lender establishes that the violation was the result of an unintentional good faith error and the lender had in place policies or procedures designed to achieve compliance. The Department of Trade, Agriculture and Consumer Protection has enforcement authority over violations. The bill requires a consumer, upon commencing a lawsuit or within ten days after entering into a consumer lawsuit lending transaction, to provide the court and all parties to the lawsuit with a copy of the consumer lawsuit lending transaction agreement and any documents the consumer provided to the lender in connection with the agreement.
Statutes of limitation
Under current law, the statute of limitations for an action for injury to character is six years. Under the bill, the statute of limitations is shortened to three years.
Under current law, the statute of limitations for an action for injury resulting from improvements to real property is ten years. Under the bill, the statute of limitations is shortened to six years.
Under current law, the statute of limitations for an action upon a liability created by statute when a different limitation is not prescribed by law and for an action for relief on the ground of fraud is six years. Under the bill, the statute of limitations is shortened to three years.
Timely payment of claims
This bill changes the interest rate that an insurer must pay for overdue insurance claims from 12 percent to the Federal Reserve Board’s bank prime loan rate on January 1 of the year in which the insurer is furnished written notice of the fact of a covered loss plus 1 percent. Current law requires an insurer to promptly pay every insurance claim and, generally, a claim is considered overdue if the claim is not
paid within 30 days after the insurer has written notice of the fact and amount of a covered loss.
Contact Attorney John Mitby