Re-Introducing the Amicus Curiae Committee

WDC Journal Edition: Spring 2021
By: Brian D. Anderson, The Everson Law Firm

The Amicus Committee is here to serve you—the members of the Wisconsin Defense Counsel—and to advance the interests of our organization as an Amicus Curiae in cases before Wisconsin’s appellate courts. The Committee is charged with evaluating requests to participate in appeals by filing an Amicus brief on behalf of the WDC. If the Committee agrees to participate, it works to develop arguments which complement the main briefing in a case, and writes a brief on behalf of the WDC.

In 2019, the Amicus Committee filed a brief with the Supreme Court of Wisconsin on behalf of the WDC in Antionette Lang v. Lions Club of Cudahy Wisconsin Inc.,[1] supporting an interpretation of Wisconsin’s Recreational Immunity Statute that favors civil defendants. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin ultimately ruled (in a plurality decision) in favor of WDC member Neal Schellinger and his client.

Since 2018, the Wisconsin Association of Justice (WAJ) has filed three Amicus briefs in the Wisconsin Supreme Court (including in Lang v. Lion’s Club) and six in the Court of Appeals. While the WDC does not necessarily have to sit opposite WAJ in all cases, there are opportunities for the Amicus Committee to use its members’ time and talents to further WDCs goals in supporting caselaw favorable to civil defendants.

The Amicus process is ad hoc, meeting whenever called on by request from a member, or identification of a case of interest to the WDC. Once a request to review a case is made, the Committee decides if participation would further the interests of the WDC and its members (and if the committee volunteers have the capacity to take on the case). If so, the Committee next brainstorms, in collaboration with lead counsel in the appeal, which legal arguments would be best made by WDC as amicus. One or more members write the brief, and it is circulated for comment and review by those willing to participate in the editing process. Sometimes upwards of nine to ten attorneys can participate; other times as few as two to three are involved. Committee members help out when they can, with what they can.

To be successful, we need you, WDC members. How can you help?

Inform the Amicus Committee about your cases on appeal for which the WDC can act as amicus to protect the rights of individuals and businesses who are defendants in civil lawsuits.

Join the Amicus Committee and volunteer

Recruit colleagues to join – whether young lawyers or experienced practitioners

I am honored to serve as Chair of the WDC Amicus Committee, and to build upon the excellent stewardship of our Committee’s previous Chairperson, Monte Weiss. With your help, we can continue to support each other and advance the mission of the Wisconsin Defense Counsel in Wisconsin’s Appellate Courts.

Author Biography:

Brian D. Anderson is an attorney at The Everson Law Firm in Green Bay. He practices in the areas of insurance defense, insurance coverage, and medical negligence defense, and handles appeals in state and federal courts.

[1] Milwaukee County Case No. 14-CV-3866; Court of Appeals Appeal No. 15-AP-2354; Supreme Court Appeal No. 17-AP-2510.