This is our first of what I hope are many entries. We continue to strive to be the best law firm in Milwaukee and we have had great success along the way. What I hope is that this site becomes a forum to discuss the legal news and issues as they are presented. Often, what we see and read in the media is inaccurate–mostly because reporters are not usually lawyers, Frequently, I find myself speaking to unresponsive TV reporters telling them they are wrong about certain facts. If you have any questions about what you see or hear about the legal system, feel free to post your questions and observations here.
Right now, most every lawyer I speak with is concerned about the path of our Wisconsin Supreme Court. It is clear that the fault lies on both sides and the main players are both wrong. I am critical of Justice Abrahamson for filing her federal lawsuit to try to overturn the Wisconsin Constitutional Amendment. I am also critical of the manner by which Justice Roggensack was elected the new Chief Justice. There are a set of rules–The Supreme Court Rules– that control the Court’s operating procedures. Justice Roggensack’s election was by email, generated by one of the four conservative justices, without any rules in place to determine how the new Chief was to be elected. It is presumed in the legal community that Justice Crooks, a well respected man, was not happy that the four conservative justices elected Justice Roggensack without giving Justice Crooks the opportunity to present himself as a unifying candidate. One thing that is almost universal in the Wisconsin legal community right now is complete embarrassment as to how our Wisconsin Supreme Court has conducted itself in the past few months and years. The choking incident; the influx of big money by interest groups; the Court’s established conflict of interest rules for itself that would be ethics violations if committed by practicing lawyers or even sitting Circuit Court judges; the scheduling of meetings without regard to the rules; the boycott (allegedly) of the Marquette swearing in ceremony, etc. Each member of the Court needs to take a look at himself or herself and look at the damage they are causing the institution and the reputation of the legal community in this state. Both lawyers and laymen have said to me recently that they always regarded courts as neutrals, not politicians. Now, our courts–and particularly our Supreme Court–have lost that respect earned over the centuries. We need change NOW. –Mike Ganzer
I have been contacted by several retirees regarding the pension buy back claims made by the County. Several have indicated that a lawsuit may be needed to stop the County’s actions. This is very different from the medical expense lawsuit we recently completed. The viability of a lawsuit on the buy back mistakes made by the County depends in large part on how the County responds to the problem it created. When we know how the County will address the problem, we will then consider whether there is a viable case. Please stay in touch as things develop.–Mike Ganzer
I just received the Decision of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The three Judge panel ruled that Milwaukee County owes retirees only the same insurance as that which is offered to active employees. We are quite disappointed in the results. The link to the decision is below.
7th Circuit Dec
With Esther passing, we have now opened up an estate (Special Administration) and The Estate of Esther Hussey has been substituted as the party in interest for Esther in our ongoing litigation. If anyone who reads this blog knew Esther, it is clear she would be very happy the case continues on in her absence.
We have also alerted the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals of recent developments in Wisconsin law that we believe are very favorable to the employees, particularly a Court of Appeals case issued last Friday,Stoker vs. Milwaukee County which is right in line with our arguments before the 7th Circuit. Of course, the County is just balancing its budget on the backs of those who can least afford it. I will update the blog as soon as we know more. –Mike Ganzer
I sadly report that our lead plaintiff, Esther Hussey has passed away. Esther was a dogged fighter for fair treatment for Milwaukee County retirees. She wanted action and fast–often getting “on my case” when things were not done in a sufficiently expeditious fashion. She was a character who firmly believed in the cause of this lawsuit and in the welfare of Milwaukee County retirees in general. I will truly miss her. All retirees should be grateful for her many contributions to their cause and her determined leadership.
With Esther’s passing, the question is posed: how does this affect the case pending before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals? We have made the appropriate filings with the Court to advise of Esther’s passing. That was followed by an Order issued today that requires that Esther’s next of kin be substituted for her in order to keep the case alive. I have had some contact with Esther’s daughters to see if they are willing to step into Esther’s shoes, as Esther’s beneficiaries, in order to keep the litigation alive. If they are willing to do so, the 7th Circuit can continue its work and issue its Decision. If they are not willing to do so, the case will be dismissed and we will start the case from scratch with a different plaintiff(s), assuming someone would be so inclined. I have until October 28th to get the approval of Esther’s daughters, open an estate (special administration) and to substitute them as the parties in interest.
I will keep you apprised. Please keep Esther and her family in your thoughts and prayers–she will be missed!
Today the case was argued before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. The 3 Judge Panel Consisted of Judges Manian, Koehn and Lee. They focused their questions on the 1971 Ordinance that granted cost free health insurance. It seemed they were equating that language to the current situation, ie since the 1971 Ordinance was meant to cover both active employees and retirees, shouldn’t that survive? That is, despite many changes since then, the Court was curious why that did not continue to control for both active employees and retirees today. I pointed out that Wisconsin case law pointed in a different direction, though I am not sure the Court was aware of the differences–hopefully they were. I expect a decision in the next 30 days and I will update this blog as soon as it arrives.–Mike Ganzer
The 7th Circuit will hear Oral Argument in Chicago on April 25, 2013 at 10:00am. The argument was previously set to take place in Milwaukee when the 7th Circuit was to convene at the Marquette Law School. That was changed so the arguments will now be heard in Room 2721 at the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit located at 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois.