When Scott W. Hansen joined Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, s.c., after graduating from law school in 1976, he says he had intended to set up his own boutique litigation firm after a few years with some friends. “But I enjoyed it so much, I stayed put.”
Now, Hansen is the chair of the Milwaukee firm’s roughly 70-member litigation department.
Hansen has prevailed in some of the most complex litigation in Wisconsin in recent years.
Recently, Hansen obtained summary judgment for his clients in a case involving the largest damage award ever in Wisconsin, involving the cleanup of the lower Fox River. $1.5 billion in damages have been awarded for remediation and natural resource damages. But the federal district court last year absolved Hansen’s clients — which include paper recycling mills and wastewater treatment facilities — of responsibility for contributing to the cost of the cleanup.
Hansen also recently successfully defended Milwaukee County in a $200 million lawsuit over allegedly unlawful pension benefits.
He also successfully defended General Motors against a claim that the automaker infringed on patents in developing its Onstar system.
In litigation, though, even victories can be bittersweet. Hansen represented gubernatorial candidate Mark Green in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, challenging an ex post facto rule change that prohibited the transfer of campaign funds from a federal congressional fund to a campaign for governor. Rep. Green had followed prior candidates’ precedents in doing so, but the state later changed the rules to prohibit such transfers.
Ultimately, the state conceded that Green had followed the rules and could use the funds, but it did not do so until after the election, meaning the funds could not be used for the campaign. “That ‘victory’ leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” Hansen says.
Hansen is also active in the community, serving on the board of the Milwaukee Chapter of the American Constitution Society, a progressive legal organization, and on the Board of Visitors of the University of Wisconsin Law School, his alma mater. In addition, he is a former alderman and president of the City of Mequon Common Council.