Senate Approves Consumer Fraud Limits

10/28/11 – Wisconsin senators passed a bill Thursday afternoon to limit the amount attorneys can charge when they help consumers win fraud cases against businesses. The bill caps legal fees at three times the amount of an award when only monetary damages are granted. But senators also approved a last-minute change that lets judges grant higher fees when they see fit. Still, none of the 15 Democrats on hand today voted in favor of the measure. All 17 Republicans voted yes, and they sent their bill onto the Assembly. Pewaukee Senate Republican Rich Zipperer and Racine County Assembly Republican Robin Vos sponsored the caps. Vos took action when one of his campaign contributors, a Burlington car dealer, was hit with 151-thousand-dollars in legal fees after losing a battle over a five-thousand-dollars in a customer’s truck repairs. Zipperer said the purpose of the bill is to stop hog-tying businesses with large legal bills in cases with much smaller amounts of damages. But Mike End of the Wisconsin Association for Justice says attorneys will still be hesitant to take small consumer fraud cases, knowing they won’t be paid what those cases cost them to prepare. Democrats said it effectively wipes out a major consumer protection for lots of people. Madison Democrat Fred Risser called it an “anti-small business, anti-middle class bill.” Legislators Voting To Tighten Restrictions On Felons 10/28/11 – The Wisconsin Senate agreed Thursday afternoon to let public schools fire convicted felons on their staffs – or not hire them in the first place. The current law allows only allows schools to reject a felon if the offense is directly related to the type of job the person’s holding or seeking. But under the bill passed today, a school employee could be rejected or fired for any prior felony conviction – whether it has to do the job or not. Felons who’ve been pardoned would still have their current job protections. The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote, but that doesn’t mean it got unanimous support. Milwaukee Democrat Lena Taylor says the bill would hurt the chances of convicted felons to re-enter society once they’ve served their sentences. The measure now goes to the Assembly.