January 5, 2011

Scott Walker reveals special legislative agenda

His first order of business should be to parse this gobbledegook:
Limiting noneconomic damages awarded in [1] actions against long-term care providers; [2] actions against manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and promoters of certain products; [3] confidentiality of health care services reviews; [4] use as evidence of information regarding health care providers; [5] reporting of quality indicators identifying individual hospitals; [6] homicide or injury by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire; [7] criminal abuse of individuals at risk; [8] criminal abuse and neglect of patients and residents; [9] evidence of lay and expert witnesses; [10] damages for frivolous claims; and [11] punitive damage awards.
I've numbered the individual clauses.

Presumably [2] is to be read as leading directly from the prefatory language, i.e., "Limiting noneconomic damages awarded in actions against manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and promoters of certain products." At least, that's what the drafter's use of semicolons would appear to indicate. But then that method of construction collapses, as "Limiting noneconomic damages awarded in confidentiality of health care services reviews" doesn't make any sense at all.

Three of the clauses refer to damages awarded by juries: [1], [2], and [11]. One clause refers to damages awarded by the court: [10] (juries are not empaneled to assess the legal meritoriousness of civil claims, unless Walker is contemplating a new cause of action for filing frivolous lawsuits). Two clauses refer to the rules of evidence: [4] and [9]. Clauses [3] and [5] have something to do with privacy.

Clauses [6], [7], and [8] maybe have some application to the State criminal code, or maybe refer to civil actions. Or both. Who knows, where reference is made to "homicide" and "negligence" in the same breath. Furthermore, negligent handling of weapons and explosives fall into entirely separate categories of defendants' liability.

In either scenario, Scott Walker's proposed adjustments — whatever they turn out to be — hopefully are weighted toward protecting victims rather than corporate defendants. The latter were apparently the objects of his vague campaign promises invoking "tort reform."

On the other hand, the paragraph is presented pursuant to Walker's alleged finding that "Wisconsin has for too long been stifled by burdensome regulation and costly litigation," so perhaps he actually wants to relax sanctions for "criminal abuse of individuals at risk," or else restrict those individuals' access to the judicial system.

Because it's manifestly unclear which of the clauses relate to the introductory language, or how. As a whole, this paragraph of his Executive Order # 1 effectively scans as hastily assembled gibberish.

Related: Prosser will "complement" GOP political branches

h/t Xoff.


Brett said...

Actually, the bill is out, and it seeks to accomplish each one of the independent points. How this is a "jobs bill" is beyond me (apart from the caveman generalization that lawsuit = bad for business). What's more interest is whether the Tea Party be up in arms about this government intrusion into the liberty of citizens? Or will we see eyes glaze over with general Republican contentment at kicking the downtrodden?

illusory tenant said...

I hope it makes more sense than this.

illusory tenant said...

(Adopting Daubert is probably a good move.)

Brett said...

(cripes I should proof read before commenting).

I don't have strong feelings on Daubert, but I do think it will end up hurting insurance companies, and hence business, more than they think. The experts that they presently field give far reaching opinions well beyond their specialities. I'd welcome a reliability restraint there. The hue and cry against Daubert will be from the DAs, and Walker's reaction to that will be interesting.

illusory tenant said...

"Wisconsin does not require that expert testimony be grounded in data, facts or reliable scientific principles. The bill would impose such standards to ensure against unfair verdicts based on questionable testimony." -- NFIB

The creationists on the West Bend school board can kiss all of their prospective witnesses goodbye, also.

illusory tenant said...

"The bill provides that a health care provider is not guilty of the crimes of causing the death of, or bodily harm to, an individual by negligent operation or handling of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, if the health care provider is acting within the scope of his or her practice or employment."

What the.

Free Lunch said...

Does Walker want [7] and [8] to be retroactive so his totally irresponsible management of Milwaukee County's institutions are no longer reviewable?

illusory tenant said...

Here's the relevant proposed amendment:

940.295 (3) (a) 3. of the statutes is amended to read:

940.295 (3) (a) 3. [strike] Abuses [/strike] [new] Except as provided in par. (am), abuses [/new], with negligence, or neglects a patient or a resident.

940.295 (3) (am) of the statutes is created to read:

940.295 (3) (am) Paragraph (a) 3. does not apply to a health care provider acting in the scope of his or her practice or employment who commits an act or omission of mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, or failure in good performance as the result of inability, incapacity, inadvertency, ordinary negligence, or good faith error in judgment or discretion.