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Court Case Filings Up In WI

June 14, 2010

MADISON, Wis. - The business community often blames personal injury litigation for clogging the court system, and demands tort reform. According to newly-released figures from the Wisconsin state court system, however, it's not those cases tying up the courts – it is a four-fold increase in foreclosures over the past decade. Kenosha attorney Paul Gagliardi, president of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, says the increase is no mystery.

"It would be primarily mortgage foreclosures, which is no big surprise to anybody. That problem has led to a lot of the financial problems we have."

Gagliardi says too many people believe that personal injury or product liability cases are creating bottlenecks that slow the court system, but the numbers don't bear that out. Personal injury cases, including car wrecks, medical malpractice, and personal injury, actually decreased in 2009. State court figures show personal injury cases make up just over five percent of all filings, while contract and real estate cases now account for 40 percent of the courts' cases.

Gagliardi points out that financial settlements awarded in injury and death cases hold wrongdoers accountable, which can be important to protect others from future harm. It does not remedy the loss a family suffers, however.

"If you ask that person, 'Hey, give me Helen back in my life or give me $3 million,' they'd take Helen."

He says the civil justice system works best when it works for all Wisconsin citizens, which means access shouldn't be limited, either for individuals or businesses, to seek remedies.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI