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Judicial Council files proposal to update class-action statute

A group of lawyers, judges and lawmakers have filed a proposal to revise the state’s class-action statute so that they mirror federal rules.

The state’s Judicial Council, a board charged with proposing changes to the court system’s procedures, submitted its proposal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday. The proposal would bring the state’s rules of civil procedure into conformity with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The federal rules were amended in 1938 to, among other things, include Rule 23, which governs procedures for class-action lawsuits.

Although Wisconsin adopted many of those changes about 40 years ago, it chose not to adopt the class-action rule, instead leaving in place a vague provision dating to the 1840s.

The result has been that when Wisconsin judges now need guidance on class-action procedures, they end up relying on federal case law.

Following months of work, the council had voted in January to move forward with its proposal. The next step in the process will be for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to discuss at an open-rules conference whether to take up the petition.

If the justices choose to do so, they will solicit written comments from the public and invite them to testify at a public hearing before voting on the proposal.

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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