Legal Q&A: Jury Waiver Provisions Enforceable in WI

Q: Are Jury Waiver Clauses Contractually Enforceable in Wisconsin?

A: Yes. On April 13, 2017 the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the jury waiver provision in the case of Parsons v. Associated Banc-Corp., 2017 WI 37 was enforceable.

The provision in question appeared within loan documentation, including the promissory note. Language within indicated that both parties waived any right to have a jury participate in resolving any dispute. The issue arose after the borrower filed suit against Associated and demanded a jury trial. The circuit court granted Associated’s motion to strike the jury demand based upon the waiver, but the court of appeals reversed that decision. The Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ position that a contractual waiver of the right to a jury trial was unenforceable.

In Its decision, the Supreme Court indicated that the ability to waive the right to a civil jury trial is already settled law. Under Article I, section 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution a person may waive his or her right to a civil jury trial in all cases in the manner prescribed by law. The Court found that this applies to contracts.

For Wisconsin banks that utilize jury waivers, WBA recommends reviewing them considering the Court’s decision. While the decision was favorable to the jury waiver provision at hand in this case, financial institutions will want to remain mindful of what made it so.

Read the Court's decision here

By, Scott Birrenkott