Brueggeman v. Jerome Foods, Inc

In Brueggeman v. Jerome Foods, Inc., 227 Wis. 2d 531, 537-538, 597 N.W.2d 744, 749 (1999), plaintiffs' law firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs within one week of a significant change in the law that would affect plaintiffs' recovery, alleging causation "upon information and belief." The causation allegation was made "upon information and belief" because plaintiffs' law firm needed discovery before causation could be conclusively determined. See id., 227 Wis. 2d at 538, 597 N.W.2d at 749. Nine months later, however, plaintiffs' law firm moved to voluntarily dismiss the case after it concluded that a causal connection was tenuous, and that it did not wish to pursue more expensive investigation techniques. See id., 227 Wis. 2d at 538, 545, 597 N.W.2d at 749, 752. The trial court held that plaintiffs' firm "failed to make a reasonable inquiry into the facts underlying the allegation of causation," that no scientific or medical support existed for the allegations, and awarded the defendant $ 716,081 in attorney fees. Id., 227 Wis. 2d at 538, 546, 597 N.W.2d at 749, 752. The supreme court stated that the cornerstone of its conclusion affirming the trial court's decision was that causation "was the critical element of the plaintiffs' claims" and, "for nine months plaintiffs' firm did nothing to try to establish this causation." Id., 227 Wis. 2d at 574, 597 N.W.2d at 765.