December 2, 2020

Volume X, Number 337


December 02, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

December 01, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

November 30, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Take Caution with Filing Deadlines During COVID-19 Crisis

On March 22, 2020, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ordered that all in-person proceedings at the trial court and appellate court levels are suspended until April 30, 2020. Despite ordering this suspension, the order explicitly declared that the Wisconsin Courts will remain open. The Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin have issued similar orders, limiting the types of in-person hearings, but keeping the courthouse open for filings. Additionally, the courts and court personnel were declared essential governmental functions under Governor Evers’ Safer at Home Order. Wisconsin state and federal courts allow parties file documents and start lawsuits electronically.

What this means for individuals and businesses is that Wisconsin courts remain open for filings and cases will proceed, even if in-person hearings and trials are rescheduled. Individuals and businesses need to be mindful of filing deadlines.

Filing a New Lawsuit

One of the most important deadlines an individual or business with a lawsuit faces is the “statute of limitations.” A “statute of limitations” is the time in which a person or business can bring a lawsuit. The statute of limitations can range from a few months to a number of years. Typically, in Wisconsin, most statutes of limitations fall between 2 to 6 years. If a person or business doesn’t bring their claim within that defined statutory period, the person or business will lose their right to pursue this claim.

Although some states, such as KansasOklahoma, and New York,[1] have issued orders or passed legislation to temporarily toll the statute of limitations during this time, Wisconsin has not yet done so. It is unclear whether Wisconsin will ultimately toll the statute of limitations.

What is clear is that persons and/or businesses with potential claims facing an expiring statute of limitations must take caution to ensure they file their lawsuit, even now during the COVID-19 crisis, or risk forever losing the chance to pursue the claim.

On-Going Lawsuits

Similarly, for those that may have active litigation, filing deadlines set before the COVID-19 crisis remain in effect. While many courts may be willing to extend previously set deadlines, none of the orders filed by the circuit courts or the Wisconsin Supreme Court automatically extend filing deadlines at the trial court level. Therefore, parties will need to move the court for extensions. Often to be successful, these motions are the product of negotiation and stipulation with an opposing party. Similarly, the time in which a party may file its notice of appeal or petition for review with the Wisconsin Supreme Court have not been extended, except in three narrow circumstances.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has, however, ordered that in all matters pending before the appellate courts with deadlines that would expire between March 19, 2020 and April 3, 2020, these deadlines are extended by 21 days. Therefore, it is imperative that deadlines are not only monitored, but court orders pertaining to the COVID-19 crisis are also monitored, because they may alter these deadlines.

[1] This is an exemplary list of states that have tolled the statute of limitations, but is not an exhaustive list of states.

© 2020 Davis|Kuelthau, s.c. All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 98



About this Author

Sherry Coley Litigation Attorney Davis Kuelthau

Sherry is a member of Davis|Kuelthau’s Litigation Team practicing in the Green Bay office. Her practice primarily focuses on complex business litigation, with an emphasis on contract disputes, business torts, financial services litigation, real estate foreclosures and work-outs, and tax assessment appeals.

Sherry is also a member of the Intellectual Property Team representing clients in district courts across the country, as well as, in the Ninth and Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. She has litigated patent, trademark, copyright, unfair competition and trade secret cases in a wide...

Tiffany Woelfel Davis Kuelthau Litigation Attorney

Tiffany Woelfel is a member of the firm’s Litigation Practice in Davis|Kuelthau’s Green Bay office.

Prior to joining the firm, Tiffany was a judicial law clerk for the Honorable William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and for the Honorable Joe B. McDade, Senior Judge in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. While in law school, she was also a judicial intern for the Honorable William M. Conley, Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin. She gained experience in the federal law and...