Liability of manufacturer.
In an action for damages caused by a manufactured product based on a claim of strict liability, a manufacturer is liable to a claimant if the claimant establishes all of the following by a preponderance of the evidence:
That the product is defective because it contains a manufacturing defect, is defective in design, or is defective because of inadequate instructions or warnings. A product contains a manufacturing defect if the product departs from its intended design even though all possible care was exercised in the manufacture of the product. A product is defective in design if the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by the adoption of a reasonable alternative design by the manufacturer and the omission of the alternative design renders the product not reasonably safe. A product is defective because of inadequate instructions or warnings only if the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by the provision of reasonable instructions or warnings by the manufacturer and the omission of the instructions or warnings renders the product not reasonably safe.
That the defective condition rendered the product unreasonably dangerous to persons or property.
That the defective condition existed at the time the product left the control of the manufacturer.
That the product reached the user or consumer without substantial change in the condition in which it was sold.
That the defective condition was a cause of the claimant's damages.
(2) Liability of seller or distributor. 895.047(2)(a)(a)
A seller or distributor of a product is not liable based on a claim of strict liability to a claimant unless the manufacturer would be liable under sub. (1)
and any of the following applies:
The claimant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the seller or distributor has contractually assumed one of the manufacturer's duties to manufacture, design, or provide warnings or instructions with respect to the product.
The claimant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that neither the manufacturer nor its insurer is subject to service of process within this state.
A court determines that the claimant would be unable to enforce a judgment against the manufacturer or its insurer.
The court shall dismiss a product seller or distributor as a defendant based on par. (a) 2.
if the manufacturer or its insurer submits itself to the jurisdiction of the court in which the suit is pending.
If the defendant proves by clear and convincing evidence that at the time of the injury the claimant was under the influence of any controlled substance or controlled substance analog to the extent prohibited under s. 346.63 (1) (a)
, or had an alcohol concentration, as defined in s. 340.01 (1v)
, of 0.08 or more, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the claimant's intoxication or drug use was the cause of his or her injury.
Evidence that the product, at the time of sale, complied in material respects with relevant standards, conditions, or specifications adopted or approved by a federal or state law or agency shall create a rebuttable presumption that the product is not defective.
The damages for which a manufacturer, seller, or distributor would otherwise be liable shall be reduced by the percentage of causal responsibility for the claimant's harm attributable to the claimant's misuse, alteration, or modification of the product.
The court shall dismiss the claimant's action under this section if the damage was caused by an inherent characteristic of the product that would be recognized by an ordinary person with ordinary knowledge common to the community that uses or consumes the product.
A seller or distributor of a product is not liable to a claimant for damages if the seller or distributor receives the product in a sealed container and has no reasonable opportunity to test or inspect the product. This paragraph does not apply if the seller or distributor may be liable under sub. (2) (a) 2.
(4) Subsequent remedial measures.
In an action for damages caused by a manufactured product based on a claim of strict liability, evidence of remedial measures taken subsequent to the sale of the product is not admissible for the purpose of showing a manufacturing defect in the product, a defect in the design of the product, or a need for a warning or instruction. This subsection does not prohibit the admission of such evidence to show a reasonable alternative design that existed at the time when the product was sold.
(5) Time limit.
In any action under this section, a defendant is not liable to a claimant for damages if the product alleged to have caused the damage was manufactured 15 years or more before the claim accrues, unless the manufacturer makes a specific representation that the product will last for a period beyond 15 years. This subsection does not apply to an action based on a claim for damages caused by a latent disease.
This section does not apply to actions based on a claim of negligence or breach of warranty.
History: 2011 a. 2
A New Era: Products Liability in Wisconsin. Edwards & Ozlap. Wis. Law. July 2011.
Wisconsin Is Open for Business or Business Just as Usual? The Practical Effects and Implications of 2011 Wisconsin Act 2
. Irgens. 2012 WLR 1245.
Recovery by auto or motorboat owner limited.
The owner of a motor vehicle or motorboat which, while being operated by the spouse or minor child of such owner, is damaged as the result of an accident involving another vehicle or boat, may not recover from the owner or operator of such other vehicle or boat for such damages, if the negligence of such spouse or minor child exceeds that of the operator of such other vehicle or boat. In the event that it is judicially determined that a spouse or minor operator of the motor vehicle or motorboat is found to be guilty of less than 50% of the causal negligence involved in an accident, then in that event the owner of the motor vehicle or motorboat involved shall be entitled to recover in accordance with the contributory negligence principles as laid down in s. 895.045
. For the purposes of recovery of damages by the owner under s. 895.048
, and for this purpose only, the negligence of the spouse or minor operator shall be imputed to the owner.
Recovery by a person who fails to use protective headgear while operating certain motor vehicles.
Notwithstanding s. 895.045
, failure by a person who operates or is a passenger on a utility terrain vehicle, as defined in s. 23.33 (1) (ng)
, a motorcycle, as defined in s. 340.01 (32)
, an all-terrain vehicle, as defined in s. 340.01 (2g)
, or a snowmobile, as defined in s. 340.01 (58a)
, on or off a highway, to use protective headgear shall not reduce recovery for injuries or damages by the person or the person's legal representative in any civil action. This section does not apply to any person required to wear protective headgear under s. 23.33 (3g)
or 347.485 (1)
History: 2003 a. 148
; 2011 a. 208
When this section applies to prohibit a reduction of damages, it necessarily also precludes a person's failure to wear a helmet from being considered a form of negligence. Hardy v. Hoefferle, 2007 WI App 264
, 306 Wis. 2d 513
, 743 N.W.2d 843
Damages in actions for libel. 895.05(1)
The proprietor, publisher, editor, writer or reporter upon any newspaper published in this state shall not be liable in any civil action for libel for the publication in such newspaper of a true and fair report of any judicial, legislative or other public official proceeding authorized by law or of any public statement, speech, argument or debate in the course of such proceeding. This section shall not be construed to exempt any such proprietor, publisher, editor, writer or reporter from liability for any libelous matter contained in any headline or headings to any such report, or to libelous remarks or comments added or interpolated in any such report or made and published concerning the same, which remarks or comments were not uttered by the person libeled or spoken concerning the person libeled in the course of such proceeding by some other person.
Before any civil action shall be commenced on account of any libelous publication in any newspaper, magazine or periodical, the libeled person shall first give those alleged to be responsible or liable for the publication a reasonable opportunity to correct the libelous matter. Such opportunity shall be given by notice in writing specifying the article and the statements therein which are claimed to be false and defamatory and a statement of what are claimed to be the true facts. The notice may also state the sources, if any, from which the true facts may be ascertained with definiteness and certainty. The first issue published after the expiration of one week from the receipt of such notice shall be within a reasonable time for correction. To the extent that the true facts are, with reasonable diligence, ascertainable with definiteness and certainty, only a retraction shall constitute a correction; otherwise the publication of the libeled person's statement of the true facts, or so much thereof as shall not be libelous of another, scurrilous, or otherwise improper for publication, published as the libeled person's statement, shall constitute a correction within the meaning of this section. A correction, timely published, without comment, in a position and type as prominent as the alleged libel, shall constitute a defense against the recovery of any damages except actual damages, as well as being competent and material in mitigation of actual damages to the extent the correction published does so mitigate them.
History: 1993 a. 486
One who contributes a nondefamatory photograph of the plaintiff to a newspaper to accompany a defamatory article is not liable absent knowledge or control of the article. Westby v. Madison Newspapers, Inc. 81 Wis. 2d 1
, 259 N.W.2d 691
A newscaster did not act with knowledge of falsity or with reckless disregard for the truth by broadcasting that the plaintiff had been charged with a crime when the newscaster was told by a deputy sheriff that charges would be filed. Prahl v. Brosamle, 98 Wis. 2d 130
, 295 N.W.2d 768
(Ct. App. 1980).
A contract printer had no reason to know of libel and was entitled to summary judgment. Maynard v. Port Publications, Inc. 98 Wis. 2d 555
, 297 N.W.2d 500
Sub. (2) applies to non-media defendants, but relates only to libelous publications in print media, not broadcast media. Hucko v. Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. 100 Wis. 2d 372
, 302 N.W.2d 68
(Ct. App. 1981).
The trial court properly dismissed a defamation claim based on a letter by a medical director charging that a foundation conducted a sham nonprofit operation since the director established the defense of truth. Fields Foundation, Ltd. v. Christensen, 103 Wis. 2d 465
, 309 N.W.2d 125
(Ct. App. 1981).
"Public figure" is defined. Constitutional protections of the news media and an individual defamer are discussed. Denny v. Mertz, 106 Wis. 2d 636
, 318 N.W.2d 141
A former legislator who had gained notoriety within the district while in office and who was allegedly defamed in a radio broadcast within the district was a "public figure" for purposes of a defamation action. Lewis v. Coursolle Broadcasting, 127 Wis. 2d 105
, 377 N.W.2d 166
A computer bulletin board is not a periodical and not subject to sub. (2). It's In the Cards, Inc. v. Fuschetto, 193 Wis. 2d 429
, 535 N.W.2d 11
(Ct. App. 1995).
If a defamation plaintiff is a public figure, there must be proof of actual malice. The deliberate choice of one interpretation of a number of possible interpretations does not create a jury issue of actual malice. The selective destruction by a defendant of materials likely to be relevant to defamation litigation allows an inference that the materials would have provided evidence of actual malice, but the inference is of little weight when uncontroverted testimony makes the malice assertion a remote possibility. Torgerson v. Journal/Sentinel, Inc. 210 Wis. 2d 524
, 563 N.W.2d 472
For purposes of libel law, a "public figure" who must prove malice includes a person who by being drawn into or interjecting himself or herself into a public controversy becomes a public figure for a limited purpose because of involvement in the particular controversy. "Public figure" status can be created without purposeful or voluntary conduct by the individual involved. Erdmann v. SF Broadcasting of Green Bay, Inc. 229 Wis. 2d 156
, 599 N.W.2d 1
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-2660
A "public dispute" is not simply a matter of interest to the public. It must be a real dispute, the outcome of which affects the general public in an appreciable way. Essentially private concerns do not become public controversies because they attract attention; the dispute's ramifications must be felt by persons who are not direct participants. Maguire v. Journal Sentinel, Inc. 2000 WI App 4
, 232 Wis. 2d 236
, 605 N.W.2d 881
In defamation cases, circuit courts should ordinarily decide a pending motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim before sanctioning a party for refusing to disclose information that would identify otherwise-anonymous members of an organization. Lassa v. Rongstad, 2006 WI 105
, 294 Wis. 2d 187
, 718 N.W.2d 673
Actual malice requires that an allegedly defamatory statement be made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. Actual malice does not mean bad intent, ill-will, or animus. Repeated publication of a statement after being informed that the statement was false does not constitute actual malice so long as the speaker believes it to be true. Actual malice cannot be inferred from the choice of one rational interpretation of a speech over another. Donohoo v. Action Wisconsin, Inc. 2008 WI 56
, 309 Wis. 2d 704
, 750 N.W.2d 739
There are two kinds of public figures: public figures for all purposes and public figures for a limited purpose. Like public officials, public figures for all purposes must prove actual malice in all circumstances. Limited purpose public figures, on the other hand, are otherwise private individuals who have a role in a specific public controversy. Limited purpose public figures are required to prove actual malice only when their role in the controversy is "more than trivial or tangential" and the defamation is germane to their participation in the controversy. Biskupic v. Cicero, 2008 WI App 117
, 313 Wis. 2d 225
, 756 N.W.2d 649
The plaintiff was a public figure for all purposes when he was involved in highly controversial and newsworthy activities while in public office; the publicity and controversy surrounding these events continued well after the term of office ended; the plaintiff remained in the news after leaving office as a result of new developments in the various inquiries into his official conduct; and he had a connection with another public official in the news. Biskupic v. Cicero, 2008 WI App 117
, 313 Wis. 2d 225
, 756 N.W.2d 649
In general, the destruction of notes allows an inference that the notes would have provided evidence of actual malice. However, this rule is not absolute. In this case, because the plaintiff had not shown any way the destroyed notes might show actual malice, the destruction of the notes did not create a material factual dispute preventing summary judgment. Biskupic v. Cicero, 2008 WI App 117
, 313 Wis. 2d 225
, 756 N.W.2d 649
Sub. (2) provides that an opportunity to correct libelous matter "shall be given by notice in writing specifying the article and the statements therein which are claimed to be false and defamatory and a statement of what are claimed to be the true facts." The optional provision: "The notice may also state the sources, if any, from which the true facts may be ascertained with definiteness and certainty," does not nullify the requirement that the notice contain a statement of what are claimed to be the true facts. Once a claimant has been found to not meet the notice requirements, the action cannot be revived by again attempting to comply with the notice provisions. DeBraska v. Quad Graphics, Inc. 2009 WI App 23
, 316 Wis. 2d 386
, 763 N.W.2d 219
Publishers' privileges and liabilities regarding libel are discussed. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. 418 U.S. 323
A public figure who sues media companies for libel may inquire into the editorial processes of those responsible when proof of "actual malice" is required for recovery. Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153
The "public figure" principle in libel cases is discussed. Wolston v. Reader's Digest Assn., Inc. 443 U.S. 157
If wire service accounts of a judge's remarks are substantially accurate, a defamation suit by the judge is barred under sub. (1). Simonson v. United Press Intern., Inc. 500 F. Supp 1261
A Misplaced Focus: Libel Law and Wisconsin's Distinction Between Media and Nonmedia Defendants. Maguire. 2004 WLR 191.
Defamation law of Wisconsin. Brody, 65 MLR 505 (1982).
The "public interest or concern" test: Have we resurrected a standard that should have remained in the graveyard? 70 MLR 647 (1987).
Defamation by radio and television.
The owner, licensee or operator of a visual or sound radio broadcasting station or network of stations, and the agents or employees of any such owner, licensee or operator, shall not be liable in damages for any defamatory statement published or uttered in, or as a part of, a visual or sound broadcast by a candidate for political office in those instances in which, under the acts of congress or the rules and regulations of the federal communications commission, the broadcasting station or network is prohibited from censoring the script of the broadcast.
Gaming contracts void. 895.055(1)
All promises, agreements, notes, bills, bonds, or other contracts, mortgages, conveyances or other securities, where the whole or any part of the consideration of the promise, agreement, note, bill, bond, mortgage, conveyance or other security shall be for money or other valuable thing whatsoever won or lost, laid or staked, or betted at or upon any game of any kind or under any name whatsoever, or by any means, or upon any race, fight, sport or pastime, or any wager, or for the repayment of money or other thing of value, lent or advanced at the time and for the purpose, of any game, play, bet or wager, or of being laid, staked, betted or wagered thereon shall be void.
This section does not apply to contracts of insurance made in good faith for the security or indemnity of the party insured.
This section does not apply to any promise, agreement, note, bill, bond, mortgage, conveyance or other security that is permitted under chs. 562
or under state or federal laws relating to the conduct of gaming on Indian lands.
A Puerto Rican judgment based on a gambling debt was entitled to full faith and credit in Wisconsin. Conquistador Hotel Corp. v. Fortino, 99 Wis. 2d 16
, 298 N.W.2d 236
(Ct. App. 1980).
Recovery of money wagered. 895.056(1)(a)
"Property" means any money, property or thing in action.
"Wagerer" means any person who, by playing at any game or by betting or wagering on any game, election, horse or other race, ball playing, cock fighting, fight, sport or pastime or on the issue or event thereof, or on any future contingent or unknown occurrence or result in respect to anything whatever, shall have put up, staked or deposited any property with any stakeholder or 3rd person, or shall have lost and delivered any property to any winner thereof.
A wagerer may, within 3 months after putting up, staking or depositing property with a stakeholder or 3rd person, sue for and recover the property from the stakeholder or 3rd person whether the property has been lost or won or whether it has been delivered over by the stakeholder or 3rd person to the winner.
A wagerer may, within 6 months after any delivery by the wagerer or the stakeholder of the property put up, staked or deposited, sue for and recover the property from the winner thereof if the property has been delivered over to the winner.
If the wagerer does not sue for and recover the property, which was put up, staked or deposited, within the time specified under sub. (1)
, any other person may, in the person's behalf and the person's name, sue for and recover the property for the use and benefit of the wagerer's family or heirs, in case of the wagerer's death. The suit may be brought against and property recovered from any of the following:
The stakeholder or a 3rd person if the property is still held by the stakeholder or 3rd person, within 6 months after the putting up, staking or depositing of the property.
The winner of the property, within one year from the delivery of the property to the winner.
This section does not apply to any property that is permitted to be played, bet or wagered under chs. 562
or under state or federal laws relating to the conduct of gaming on Indian lands.
Action against judicial officer for loss caused by misconduct.
Any judicial officer who causes to be brought in a court over which the judicial officer presides any action or proceeding upon a claim placed in the judicial officer's hands as agent or attorney for collection shall be liable in a civil action to the person against whom such action or proceeding was brought for the full amount of damages and costs recovered on such claim.
History: 1993 a. 486
Recovery of divisible personalty.
When personal property is divisible and owned by tenants in common and one tenant in common shall claim and hold possession of more than the tenant's share or proportion thereof his or her cotenant, after making a demand in writing, may sue for and recover the cotenant's share or the value thereof. The court may direct the jury, if necessary, in any such action to find what specific articles or what share or interest belongs to the respective parties, and the court shall enter up judgment in form for one or both of the parties against the other, according to the verdict.
History: 1993 a. 486
Radioactive waste emergencies. 895.065(1)(a)
"Association" means a relationship in which one person controls, is controlled by or is under common control with another person.
"Company" means any partnership, joint-stock company, business trust or organized group of persons, whether incorporated or not, and any person acting as a receiver, trustee or other liquidator of a partnership, joint-stock company, business trust or organized group of persons. "Company" does not include a state or local governmental body.
"Control" means to possess, directly or indirectly, the power to direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of a company, whether that power is exercised through one or more intermediary companies, or alone, or in conjunction with, or by an agreement with, any other company, and whether that power is established through a majority or minority ownership or voting of securities, common directors, officers, stockholders, voting trusts, holding trusts, affiliated companies, contract or by any other direct or indirect means. "Control" includes owning, holding or controlling, directly or indirectly, at least 5% of the voting power in the election of directors of a company. "Control" has the same meaning as the terms "controlled by" and "under common control with".
"Emergency provider" means any person who provides emergency care or facilities and includes emergency management.