2001 - 2002 LEGISLATURE
February 18, 2002 - Introduced by Representatives Montgomery, Lassa, Rhoades,
Ryba, Olsen, Musser, Ladwig, J. Fitzgerald, Gunderson, F. Lasee, Hahn,
Hoven, Urban, Turner, Sykora, Vrakas, M. Lehman, Wieckert, Ainsworth,
McCormick, Krawczyk, Petrowski, Owens, Suder, Kestell, Bies, Nass, Stone,
Seratti, Ott, Skindrud, Gard, Townsend, Huebsch
and Albers, cosponsored
by Senators Hansen, Huelsman, Plache, Darling, Erpenbach, Shibilski,
Breske, Schultz, Roessler
and Cowles, by request of Midwest Equipment
Dealers Association, Midwest Hardware Dealers Association, National
Federation of Independent Businesses, Tavern League of Wisconsin,
Wisconsin Alliance of Hearing Professionals, Wisconsin Association of
Convenience Stores, Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association,
Wisconsin Automotive Parts Association, Wisconsin Automotive After
Market Trade Association, Wisconsin Civil Recovery Council, Wisconsin
Collectors Association, Wisconsin Grocers Association, Wisconsin Fitness and
Health Alliance, Wisconsin Independent Businesses Inc., Wisconsin Jewelers
Association, Wisconsin Merchants Federation, Wisconsin Motorcycle Dealers
Association, Wisconsin Restaurant Association and Wisconsin Retail Lumber
Association. Referred to Committee on Small Business and Consumer Affairs.
AB820,2,4 1An Act to repeal 814.04 (1) (b); to amend 16.007 (6) (a), 799.01 (1) (c), 799.01
2(1) (d) (intro.), 799.01 (2), 802.04 (1), 812.34 (2) (a), 812.34 (2) (b) 1., 812.37 (1),
3812.37 (2), 812.38 (1) (b), 812.38 (2), 812.44 (3) (form) 3., 812.44 (4) (form) 1.,
4812.44 (4) (form) 3., 814.04 (1) (a), 814.04 (2), 814.07, 814.634 (1) (b), 814.634
5(1) (c), 815.18 (3) (k), 895.035 (2), 895.035 (4), 895.80 (1), 895.80 (2), 895.80 (3)
6(b), 938.245 (2) (a) 5. am., 938.32 (1t) (a) 1m., 938.45 (1r) (a), 938.45 (1r) (b),
7943.212 (7), 943.24 (3) (b), 943.24 (3) (c), 943.245 (3), 943.245 (4), 943.245 (8),
8943.51 (3), 943.51 (3m) and 943.51 (6); to repeal and recreate 895.80 (3) (a)
9and 895.80 (4); and to create 29.962, 218.04 (9j), 799.01 (1) (e), 812.34 (2) (c),
10895.08, 895.80 (3) (c) and 895.80 (6) of the statutes; relating to: parental
11liability for acts of their minor child, recovery of damages for certain criminal
12actions, increasing the jurisdictional amount in small claims court,

1garnishment, attorney fees, exemption from execution of accounts, civil actions
2by collection agencies, earnings garnishment, retail theft, recovery in actions
3involving worthless checks, and revocation of fish and game approvals for
4which payment is made by worthless checks.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill increases the jurisdictional limit in small claims actions from $5,000
to $10,000, except for actions based on negligence, which remain at the $5,000 limit.
This change results in a corresponding increase in the amount that the claims board
pays a claimant without submitting a bill to the legislature but maintains the $5,000
limit on the amount a parent may have to pay for damages caused by his or her child.
Current law provides for limited payment of attorney fees by the unsuccessful
litigant to the successful litigant in all civil actions. In a civil action concerning
money damages or property, the successful litigant is entitled to attorney fees based
on the following schedule: - See PDF for table PDF
This bill changes the amount of attorney fees allowed in these cases as follows: - See PDF for table PDF
The bill also increases the amount of attorney fees recoverable in civil cases that
do not involve money damages or property from a maximum of $100 to a maximum
of $300.
Under current law, in civil cases certain disbursements, such as those made for
the costs of certified copies of public papers or records, postage, and depositions, are
recoverable by the successful litigant, but are limited to $50 for each item. This bill
expands the list of disbursements that are recoverable to include such items as
overnight delivery and facsimile transmissions and increases the limit to $100 for
each item. The bill also increases the amount that a successful litigant may recover
for the cost of each expert witness testifying on behalf of the successful litigant from
$100 to $300 and for filing a motion from $50 to $300.
Under current law, the earnings exemption in earnings garnishment actions
provides that a debtor's earnings are totally exempt if the debtor's income is below

the poverty line or if the garnishment would cause that result. Under this bill, a
debtor's earnings are totally exempt if the debtor's income is below the poverty line,
but if the garnishment would result in the debtor's income being below the poverty
line, the amount garnished is limited to the debtor's income in excess of the poverty
line. The bill requires debtors who claim earnings exemptions to submit with their
answer to the garnishment the schedules and worksheets that were given to them
with the garnishment, plus any supporting documents. The bill restricts the
exemption from execution for depository accounts to those depository accounts that
are for the debtor's personal use.
Under current law, a person who suffers damage as a result of certain crimes
against property may sue the person that caused the damage. Currently, the person
may recover treble damages plus the costs of the investigation and litigation. Under
the bill, the person may recover his or her actual damages, including the value of the
damaged property, the costs of the investigation and litigation, and the value of the
time spent by an employee, and exemplary damages of not more than three times the
amount of actual damages. Any recovery is reduced by any amount received as
Current law provides that the total amount a person may receive for exemplary
damages and attorney fees in an action to recover damages resulting from the
issuance of a worthless check or retail theft is limited to $500. This bill provides that
the $500 limit applies for each violation.
This bill allows licensed collection agencies to consolidate a creditor's accounts
related to a particular debtor with those of other creditors related to that debtor and
bring an action on behalf of those creditors against the debtor. The bill provides that
the collection agency that brings the action is a real party in interest for purposes of
maintaining the action under the rules of civil procedure. The bill requires the
collection agency, when it brings an action consolidated on behalf of a number of
creditors, to include the names of the creditors in the caption of the action.
The bill also authorizes certain issuing agents appointed by the department of
natural resources (DNR) to report to DNR persons who pay for fish and game
licenses, stamps, and other approvals with worthless checks. An issuing agent may
make such a report after having attempted to receive payment from the person who
paid for the approval. Upon receipt of the report, DNR must revoke the approval.
The bill requires the approval holder to return the approval to DNR.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
AB820, s. 1 1Section 1. 16.007 (6) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,4,42 16.007 (6) (a) Except as provided in par. (b), whenever the claims board by
3unanimous vote finds that payment to a claimant of not more than the amount

1specified in s. 799.01 (1) (d) is justified, it may order the amount that it finds justified
2to be paid on its own motion without submission of the claim in bill form to the
3legislature. The claim shall be paid on a voucher upon the certification of the
4chairperson and secretary of the board, and shall be charged as provided in sub. (6m).
AB820, s. 2 5Section 2. 29.962 of the statutes is created to read:
AB820,4,16 629.962 Worthless checks for approvals. If a person tenders a check or other
7order for payment to an issuing agent appointed under s. 29.024 (6) (a) 3. to make
8payment for an approval issued under this chapter to an issuing agent, and the check
9is drawn on an account that does not exist or on an account with insufficient funds,
10or is otherwise worthless, the issuing agent may give notification to the department
11of the fact after having made an effort to receive payment from the person who
12tendered the check or other payment. If the issuing agent gives such notification, the
13department shall revoke the approval and send notification to the holder of the
14approval that it has been revoked for failure to make payment for the approval. The
15holder of the approval shall return the approval to the department within 7 days
16after receiving the notification.
AB820, s. 3 17Section 3. 218.04 (9j) of the statutes is created to read:
AB820,4,2418 218.04 (9j) Civil action by licensee. A licensee may, after receiving
19authorization from a creditor, consolidate the creditor's account or accounts relating
20to a particular debtor with those of any other creditor or creditors relating to that
21debtor and may bring an action on behalf of the creditor or creditors. A licensee that
22brings an action under this subsection is the real party in interest under s. 803.01
23(2) for purposes of maintaining an action. A licensee that brings an action under this
24subsection shall comply with the caption requirements of s. 895.08.
AB820, s. 4 25Section 4. 799.01 (1) (c) of the statutes is amended to read:
1799.01 (1) (c) Replevins. Actions for replevin under ss. 810.01 to 810.13 where
2the value of the property claimed does not exceed $5,000 $10,000.
AB820, s. 5 3Section 5. 799.01 (1) (d) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,5,54 799.01 (1) (d) Other civil actions. (intro.) Other civil actions where the amount
5claimed is $5,000 $10,000 or less, if the actions or proceedings are:
AB820, s. 6 6Section 6. 799.01 (1) (e) of the statutes is created to read:
AB820,5,87 799.01 (1) (e) Negligence claims. Notwithstanding par. (d), civil actions arising
8out of a claim based on negligence where the amount claimed is $5,000 or less.
AB820, s. 7 9Section 7. 799.01 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,5,1310 799.01 (2) Permissive use of small claims procedure. A taxing authority may
11use the procedure in this chapter in an action to recover a tax from a person liable
12for that tax where the amount claimed, including interest and penalties, is $5,000
13$10,000 or less. This chapter is not the exclusive procedure for those actions.
AB820, s. 8 14Section 8. 802.04 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,6,515 802.04 (1) Caption. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the
16name of the court, the venue, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation
17as in s. 802.01 (1). If a pleading contains motions, or an answer or reply contains
18cross-claims or counterclaims, the designation in the caption shall state their
19existence. In the complaint the caption of the action shall include the standardized
20description of the case classification type and associated code number as approved
21by the director of state courts, and the title of the action shall include the names and
22addresses of all the parties, indicating the representative capacity, if any, in which
23they sue or are sued and, in actions by or against a corporation, the corporate
24existence and its domestic or foreign status shall be indicated. In pleadings other
25than the complaint, it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side

1with an appropriate indication of other parties. Every pleading commencing an
2action under s. 814.61 (1) (a) or 814.62 (1) or (2) and every complaint filed under s.
3814.61 (3) shall contain in the caption, if the action includes a claim for a money
4judgment, a statement of whether the amount claimed is greater than the amount
5under s. 799.01 (1) (d) or, if the claim is based on negligence, s. 799.01 (1) (e).
AB820, s. 9 6Section 9. 812.34 (2) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,6,97 812.34 (2) (a) Unless the court grants relief under s. 812.38 (2) or par. (b) or (c)
8applies, 80% of the debtor's disposable earnings are exempt from garnishment under
9this subchapter.
AB820, s. 10 10Section 10. 812.34 (2) (b) 1. of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,6,1211 812.34 (2) (b) 1. The debtor's household income is below the poverty line, or the
12garnishment would cause that result; or
AB820, s. 11 13Section 11. 812.34 (2) (c) of the statutes is created to read:
AB820,6,1714 812.34 (2) (c) If the garnishment of 20% of the debtor's disposable income under
15this subchapter would result in the debtor's household income being below the
16poverty line, the amount of the garnishment is limited to the debtor's household
17income in excess of the poverty line before the garnishment is in effect.
AB820, s. 12 18Section 12. 812.37 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,7,519 812.37 (1) Except as provided in s. 812.34 (1), the debtor may claim an
20exemption under s. 812.34 (2) (b) or a limit to the garnishment under s. 812.34 (2)
, or may assert any defense to the earnings garnishment, by completing the answer
22form and delivering or mailing it to the garnishee, along with the schedules and
23worksheets provided under s. 812.35 (4) (b) and any other documents supporting his
24or her answer, such as a wage statement, a court order regarding the payment of
25support or a document showing the receipt of aid to families with dependent children,

1relief funded by a relief block grant under ch. 49, relief provided by counties under
2s. 59.53 (21), medical assistance, supplemental security income, food stamps, or
3veterans benefits based on need under 38 USC 501 to 562 or s. 45.351 (1)
. The debtor
4or debtor's spouse may file an answer or an amended answer and documentation at
5any time before or during the effective period of the earnings garnishment.
AB820, s. 13 6Section 13. 812.37 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,7,127 812.37 (2) Whenever the garnishee receives a debtor's answer or amended
8answer and the schedules, worksheets, and other documents, the garnishee shall
9mail a copy of the answer, schedules, worksheets, and any other documents the
10debtor included with the answer
to the creditor by the end of the 3rd business day
11after receiving the debtor's answer and documents, writing on that copy the date of
12receipt of the answer and documents by the garnishee.
AB820, s. 14 13Section 14. 812.38 (1) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,7,1914 812.38 (1) (b) The debtor may file with the court a written petition for relief
15from the earnings garnishment if the exemption percentage under s. 812.34 (2) (a)
16is insufficient for the debtor to acquire the necessities of life for the debtor and his
17or her dependents. The petition shall state with reasonable specificity the grounds
18for the relief requested and shall include any additional information necessary to
19support the petition.
AB820, s. 15 20Section 15. 812.38 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB820,8,1121 812.38 (2) A motion or petition under sub. (1) may be made at any time during
22the pendency of the earnings garnishment. Within 5 business days after a motion
23or petition is filed under sub. (1), the court shall schedule the matter for a hearing
24to be held as promptly as practicable. The court shall notify the parties of the time
25and place of the hearing. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the court shall make

1findings of fact and conclusions of law. If the debtor has failed to produce the
2schedules and worksheets or other documents necessary to support a claim for
3exemptions or other defenses, the court shall award the creditor his or her costs
4related to the motion in an amount of not less than $50. An award under this
5subsection may not substitute for or replace an award made under sub. (3).
The court
6shall make such order as required by these findings and conclusions. If the order
7permits the garnishment to proceed, the date on which the order is served upon the
8garnishee shall substitute for the original date of service of the garnishment upon
9the garnishee under s. 812.35 (3) for the purpose of determining any 13-week period
10under s. 812.35 (5) or (6). A court order shall bind the garnishee from the time the
11order is served upon him or her.