Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Walk-O-Meter

Establish laws protecting gun ranges from "frivolous lawsuits"

Will establish laws protecting gun ranges from "frivolous lawsuits." ... "Reforms to the DNR must be accompanied by laws that protect safe, legal gun ranges from frivolous lawsuits that are an all too common weapon of Madison special interests who want to shut them down."


Subjects: Recreation

Updates

None targeting gun ranges specifically, but some impact from broader measures

As a candidate for governor, Scott Walker expressed support for shooting ranges when he promised to establish laws protecting them from "frivolous lawsuits.”

Walker did not, as he indicated he would, produce a law that targets gun ranges. But he has taken other steps.

In January 2011, Walker signed a bill to make it more difficult to win damage awards in civil suits.

The Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, a business coalition that lobbies for tighter lawsuit controls, had pushed the measure, saying it would reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits against businesses generally. It cited a part of the law allows courts to hold a party liable for costs for frivolous claims.

Randall Reinhardt, a personal injury attorney in Milwaukee, told us that provision has only minimal impact. It would only discourage a person not represented by a lawyer from filing a marginal or frivolous claim. Lawyers already faced the possibility of sanctions for filing a frivolous claim -- one deemed by a judge to be without merit, he said.

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson also cited as a benefit to gun ranges another 2011 law signed by the governor, which makes it more difficult for a trespassers to collect damages if they are injured while trespassing.

Our rating

Walker singled out shooting ranges in promising to adopt laws to protect them from what he described as frivolous lawsuits. Two bills he signed offer some protection to businesses generally. We rate this promise as a Compromise.

Sources:

Email interview, Gov. Scott Walker press secretary Tom Evenson, Sept. 17, 2013

Wisconsin Legislative Council, Act 2 memo, Feb. 1, 2011

Wisconsin Legislative Council, Act 93 memo, Dec. 13, 2011

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Walker signs bill limiting court awards in injury cases,” Jan 27, 2011

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Walker scores on tort reform, HSAs,” Jan. 20, 2011

Interview, personal injury attorney Randall Reinhardt, Sept. 18, 2013

Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, news release, Jan. 4, 2011

Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, "Wisconsin civil justice reforms,” December 2012

PolitiFact Wisconsin, "National Federation of Independent Business says Wisconsin"s lawsuit rules are among the most anti-business in the nation,” Jan. 9, 2011