Litigation Blog | Litigation Section

This blog discusses issues important to attorneys engaged in civil litigation, insurance law, and tort law. Topics include changes in the statutes, important appellate and Supreme Court decisions, insurance law, practice tips and pointers, procedural issues, evidentiary issues, jury trials, and more. Published by the State Bar of Wisconsin's Litigation Section.

The section strives to further the development and improvement of the civil litigation practice by monitoring, commenting upon, and proposing legislation, and by sponsoring and presenting CLE programs. The section has an email list, and supports law students’ trial advocacy training and the protection of the adversarial and jury systems.

Members of the State Bar of Wisconsin may join the section by visiting https://www.wisbar.org/formembers/groups/pages/join-a-group.aspx (login required).

Website: https://www.wisbar.org/forMembers/Groups/Sections/LitigationSection/pages/home.aspx

If you intend to bring a claim for or find yourself defending a claim for punitive damages, you will likely discover that there is simply not much case law in Wisconsin on the issue (specific to personal injury actions).

However, understanding the current statute, the legislative history behind the “new statute,” and the body of case law that does exist is as good a place as any to start.
Current and ‘New’
The statutory scheme for punitive damages is
Continue Reading A Punitive Damages Primer

Over the past four years, those in the civil litigation sphere – whether plaintiff or defense counsel – have seen a change in the daily practice of many litigators. Initially, this was out of necessity in early 2020 when, for months, many had to work from home as the world dealt with the COVID-19 crisis. Later, as the post-COVID way of life became the norm, many litigators have incorporated these changes into their regular practice. We Attend More Virtual
Continue Reading Practicing Litigation in the Post-COVID Era

In Wisconsin, vehicles driving in a funeral procession generally have the right of way at an intersection. Specifically, Wis. Stat. section 346.20 states:
(1) Except as provided in sub. (4), the operator of a vehicle not in a funeral procession or military convoy shall yield the right-of-way at an intersection to vehicles in a funeral procession or military convoy when vehicles comprising such procession have their headlights lighted.
(2) The operator of a vehicle not in a funeral procession
Continue Reading Funeral Fender Benders: Defending Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Claims

Note: This is the second of two parts in the State Bar of Wisconsin Litigation Blog discussing the agricultural tourism immunity statute for an injury claim that occurred at a barn wedding. For the plaintiff side, see the article by Amy Risseeuw, “Agricultural Tourism Immunity and Barn Weddings: The Plaintiff.”

Weddings held at a farm, ranch, or orchard not only provide a relaxed and fun alternative to traditional venues but can also be an income lifeline to
Continue Reading Agricultural Tourism Immunity and Barn Weddings: The Defense

According to various different wedding websites, approximately 15 to 20 percent of couples are choosing to hold rustic wedding ceremonies and receptions at a barn, farm, or ranch.

While many attorneys practicing personal injury law may have come across a premises liability claim regarding a fall that occurred at a wedding, the agricultural tourism immunity statute, Wis. Stat. section 895.524, adds an interesting layer to an injury claim that occurred at a barn or farm wedding.
The Case
I
Continue Reading Agricultural Tourism Immunity and Barn Weddings: The Plaintiff

“What hath God wrought?”

These words were delivered when Samuel Morse opened the first telegraph line in Washington, D.C., on May 24, 1844. Morse was keenly aware that this innovation in communication would transform the structure of American society.

Are we on the brink of a similar transformation with the advent of generative artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots?

When Open AI released “ChatGPT” to the public last November, it sent reverberations through the tech industry, inducing giants like Microsoft, Google,
Continue Reading Can a Chatbot Assist with Legal Practice? Embrace the Potential of Generative Artificial Intelligence with Caution

Life can turn on a dime. An injury sustained due to the nature of your occupation can set life-changing ripples in motion and cause you to take steps back physically, mentally, and financially.

While we all know that it is possible to attain an injury due to our occupation, we also never take a job expecting that to be the result. Knowing that your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance can give injured workers some peace of mind.

However, it
Continue Reading The Importance of Date of Injury in Occupational Injury Workers’ Compensation Cases

We believe a lot of people think of Medicare like the funny uncle who shows up for the holidays and all you want to do is avoid him. But avoiding the funny uncle … aka Medicare … won’t keep him away from the plate of latkes or the Christmas fruitcake, and he’ll just try harder to get your attention if you don’t deal with him up front. So if you say your polite hellos and talk about the weather
Continue Reading New Year’s Resolution: Stay Out of Medicare’s Crosshairs


Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are a novel type of entity – with profound differences from traditional structures like LLCs. Lately, DAOs are experiencing a surge of interest. According to one estimate, the market capitalization of DAOs was already around $21 billion in January 2022. What Are DAOs? Thankfully, despite their novelty, DAOs are not completely unrecognizable. For example, the New York Times once described a DAO as a “group chat with a bank account.” DAOs share some
Continue Reading The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations

Clients often ask their attorneys whether they can be held liable for serving alcohol to their adult friends, employees, or customers who subsequently injure others. According to Wisconsin law, the answer is generally “no.” Providers of alcohol in Wisconsin have long been shielded from civil liability arising out of accidents caused by intoxicated adults. Historically, Wisconsin law has favored holding intoxicated adults liable for damages caused by their negligence while favoring immunity for the liquor provider. The Immunity Statute:
Continue Reading Holiday Party Primer: Alcohol Providers Are Generally Exempt From Liability

The State Bar of Wisconsin Litigation Section is one of few professional organizations that brings together adversaries.

Hopefully, we don’t normally think of ourselves as adversaries, but this section involves attorneys who consistently advocate for opposing parties with a balance of defense and plaintiff members on the board. While we may be on opposite sides, we understand that many of our struggles are the same and we usually work collaboratively to find solutions.

For those challenges that are
Continue Reading Asking for a Friend: How to Avoid Aggravating Opposing Counsel

“Jury trials are going the way of the dinosaur.” “Mandatory mediation has taken trials away from us.” I have heard some version of these quotes for the better part of the last two decades while practicing across two different states. The words are usually uttered by gray-haireds boasting how they built skills and reputations as top trial attorneys based on trying “hundreds of cases” throughout their careers, yet bemoaning that young lawyers today have no chance to become as
Continue Reading Finding and Developing Our Future Trial Attorneys


Every first-year law student learns about the concept of adverse possession. On the outskirts of these lessons are rules regarding easements. In Wisconsin, these two concepts combine when it comes to utility companies and the placement of their equipment to deliver energy and telecommunications. About Easements An easement is the grant of a nonpossessory property interest that grants an easement holder permission for the use of another person’s property for a limited and specific purpose.1 Easements, therefore,
Continue Reading Prescriptive Easements: Overhead to Underground

Two fairly recent decisions highlight the Wisconsin public records law’s presumption of openness, with limited exceptions, and the mandamus process by which challenges to that policy of openness occur. In the case of
Friends of Frame Park v. City of Waukesha,1 the requested records were disclosed shortly after the petition for mandamus was filed, and the court explained that, even after the records were released, the requester is entitled to relief as the prevailing party if the authority’s
Continue Reading Two Recent Appeals Court Decisions Highlight Open Records Laws

The members of the State Bar of Wisconsin Litigation Section recognize that we serve a diverse community as Wisconsin lawyers. We believe our section, and the legal community at large, is strongest when it reflects (and looks more like) the communities we serve and the people we represent.The Litigation Section welcomes members of every gender, race, culture, age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, geographic domicile, and physical ability.Jacqueline C. Nuckels, Marquette 2004, is an attorney with Jacobs Injury Law,
Continue Reading State Bar Litigation Section Offers Sponsored Memberships to Diverse Attorneys

One case short of a top 10 list, this is a summary of nine recent decisions from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals that discuss insurance coverage.

Readers should note that several of the decisions discussed are unpublished, per curiam decisions, so an understanding of Rule 809.23(3)(a)-(b) is important.

Despite a prohibition on publication, the per curiam decisions discussed in this article are important in that they help the reader understand how courts have analyzed various coverage issues, and ​that
Continue Reading Nine Recent Insurance Coverage Appeals Court Decisions