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Change to state class-action rule on way to Supreme Court

A proposal to update Wisconsin’s rules for class-action lawsuits will soon be filed with the state Supreme Court.

The Judicial Council — a group of lawyers, judges, lawmakers and others — approved final language for the recommended changes last week. The council also gave its staff attorney the green light to submit the proposal and a supporting memorandum to the state’s high court.

The changes would bring the state rules of civil procedure into conformity with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The federal rules were amended in 1938 in a way that included the adoption of Rule 23, which governs procedures for class-action lawsuits.

Although Wisconsin approved the bulk of those changes about 40 years ago, it chose not to adopt the class-action rule. That decision left in place a rule dating to the 1840s that many say is not helpful to state court judges, who often end up consulting federal law when they encounter issues relating to class-action lawsuits.

Once the rules proposal is filed, the justices will discuss it in an open conference and vote on whether they should take it up. If the justices decide to take it up, they will invite members of the public to testify at a public hearing or comment on the proposed change in writing. After that, the justices will vote on whether to adopt the proposal and then issue orders explaining their decision.

About Erika Strebel, [email protected]

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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