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Lawmakers propose product liability change

A legislative proposal would require plaintiffs to retroactively name the manufacturers of defective products in lawsuits in order to have a valid claim.

Senate Bill 373, introduced by Sen. Glenn Grothman on Jan. 10, enhances tort reforms adopted a year ago by Gov. Scott Walker. Those reforms are designed to prevent lawsuits from being filed against companies, especially producers of lead paint, that did not have direct liability.

Grothman’s bill, which received a public hearing Thursday, strengthens the requirement that plaintiffs must name a manufacturer, contrary to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 2005 ruling in Thomas v. Mallet, 2005 WI 129.

The court ruling said that attorneys representing children allegedly impaired by lead paint did not have to name manufacturers of the product to recover damages.

According to the proposed legislation, the law change would apply to all product liability actions filed before the effective date of the law.

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