Letter to the Editor Reaction: CTCW Members Are Not Necessarily Benefitted by Laws Helping Clients

WDC Journal Edition: Spring 2006
By: Greg Cook

I read the article by Michael Crooks [President’s Page] in the Fall 2005 edition of the CTCW Journal and I asked myself, “are we still trial lawyers?”

I am continually amazed at how much our organization allows the business and insurance interests to sway our opinion on the development of the law as it relates to civil litigation. It seems that when it is argued that the law has expanded the right to bring claims or receive increased compensation, we are supposed to beat our breasts and worry about the sky falling in on Wisconsin business.

The simple fact is that if our clients do not get sued, we do not get paid. We are not farmers. The state or federal government is not paying us to put our talents in a trial conservation program, so to speak. If we don’t litigate, we don’t eat.

Justice Bradley wrote an article a while back bemoaning the fact that in one year (I believe it was 2002), only 600 civil jury trials were recorded in the entire state composing 72 counties. That is less than 10 cases per county per year. She warned that the lack of civil litigation would slow the development of the law. I fully agree. How many of us can say we are trying more cases these days than 10 years ago? The change in joint and several liability was a boon to business and insurance interests and had a tremendous impact on civil litigation.

The economic loss doctrine has also done a great deal to limit or eliminate tort theories in business litigation. Does anyone really think that the lead poisoning decision is going to stop an unrelated manufacturer from coming to our state? Paint companies do not even sell lead based paint anymore so I doubt that would stop one from coming here if they so chose.

Wake up and smell the coffee ladies and gentlemen. We are the Civil Trial Counsel of Wisconsin. Let us act as such and quit worrying about whether business interests are being harmed or not. That is not our fight to carry. If we keep it up, and are forced to support laws we may not personally agree with, we are going to legislate ourselves out of work.


Greg Cook

Milwaukee, Wisconsin