Improve the health of the people of Wisconsin by supporting and strengthening physicians' ability to practice high-quality patient care in a changing environment.

In the Courtroom

The Society works to ensure the physician voice is heard in the courtroom in all cases with the potential to impact the practice of medicine.

For example, when the state of Wisconsin took $200 million from the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund to balance the budget, the Society fought back. We filed a lawsuit on behalf of physicians and their patients to restore to the Fund the money taken plus interest—and won. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered that the money taken plus interest be paid back, and also issued a permanent injunction preventing the State from transferring money out of the Fund in the future.

But that’s just one example. Our efforts in the courtroom on behalf of physicians and patients are ongoing.

Because the precedents set by appellate courts can affect the health law landscape as much as laws created in the Capitol, it is important that judges understand the impact of those decisions. By filing amicus briefs—also known as “friend of the court” briefs—in cases that have the potential to broadly affect Wisconsin physicians from a legal and/or public policy perspective, the Society is able to present legal and public policy arguments to judges that may not have been made by the parties themselves.

Below are some of the cases in which the Society has filed amicus briefs. Click here to download an overview of these cases.

Papa v. Wisconsin Department of Health Services (ongoing)
A Waukesha County court ruled that a DHS rule allowing it to recoup Medicaid payments from providers based on alleged failure to abide by all technical requirements (aka the “perfection rule”) improperly exceeded the scope of DHS’s rule making authority and was unenforceable. The case has been appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (2018)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wisconsin’s $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability actions is constitutional, reversing lower court decisions and a previous Supreme Court decision.

Loertscher v. Anderson (2018)
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lower court ruling that 1997 Wisconsin Act 292, which permits courts to order treatment and incarceration for pregnant women suspected of habitual drug or alcohol use, is unconstitutional, because the plaintiff had moved out of state and the case was thus moot.

Seifert v. Balink (2017)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled an expert could testify regarding the standard of care applicable in a medical liability action based primarily on his professional preferences without relying on community standards.

Bayer v. Dobbins (2016)
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled experts could testify about alternative theories of causation in a medical liability action based on peer reviewed literature.

Planned Parenthood v. Schimel (2016)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled requirements in several states, including Wisconsin, that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital are unconstitutional.

Buchanan v. Circuit Court of Outagamie County, Branch 1 (2014)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to stay a trial court’s order requiring a peer review committee to release certain information subpoenaed in a medical liability action.

Fiez v. Keevil (2014)
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled the $250,000 cap on total damages recoverable in actions against state employees did not violate the state or federal constitutions.

United States ex rel. Watson v. King Vassel (2014)
Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed their action against a psychiatrist alleging improper off-label prescribing to minors.

Weborg v. Jenny (2012)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that collateral source evidence is admissible in medical liability actions if it is relevant to a dispute regarding damages.

Jandre v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (2012)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the physician should have informed the patient about all alternative methods of diagnosis to rule out a condition the physician did not believe the patient had.