Category Archives: Court of Appeals

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The New Wisconsin Court of Appeals

Bill Gates once wrote that “[w]e always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” Mr. Gates surely wasn’t thinking about the turnover of judges on Wisconsin’s Court of Appeals when he wrote that, but a review of the court’s membership over … Continue reading this entry

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Enforces Parties’ Stipulation to Remedies and Waiver of Judicial Review in Administrative Proceeding

While many of us spent this past Halloween gorging on a variety of candies and sweets, Wisconsin’s court of appeals was busy rendering an opinion that likely left Travis Technology High School (“Travis Tech”) with a decidedly bitter taste in its mouth. Ceria M. Travis Academy, Inc. v. Evers, No. 2015AP2314, (Wis. Ct. App. Oct. … Continue reading this entry

Wisconsin Court Strikes Clause Restricting Solicitation of Employees

An engineer’s employment contract provision broadly limiting his post-termination solicitation of former co-workers for competitive employment is an unenforceable restraint of trade under a new decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Manitowoc Co. v. Lanning, 2015AP1530 (Aug. 17, 2016). The decision, written by Judge Brian Hagedorn of District II, reversed a judgment for more … Continue reading this entry

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Issues Reminder of Power of Federal Arbitration Act

In the last generation, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly promoted the policy under federal law in favor of arbitrating claims, including in the area of employment law. Among other issues, the Court has held on multiple occasions that employers can require employees to submit statutory employment claims to arbitration, whether via mandatory arbitration agreements … Continue reading this entry

Beware of Unguarded Talk: A Cautionary Tale of Privilege Waiver in Wisconsin

Loose lips sink ships. And, at least according to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, they can sink the protections afforded to privileged communications. A decision last week in a criminal case could have considerable effect on a client’s waiver of the attorney-client privilege, in civil as well as criminal cases.… Continue reading this entry

Does Wisconsin’s Four-Corners Rule Govern an Insurer’s Duty to Defend?

Those who follow the work of the Wisconsin appellate courts might recognize this question as one that District II of the Court of Appeals certified to the Supreme Court nearly five years ago in Wilkinson v. Arbuckle, 2011 WI 1, 330 Wis. 2d 442, 793 N.W.2d 71, before the parties ducked an answer to the … Continue reading this entry

Wisconsin Courts Can Consider Documents Referred to in a Complaint, Even if They Are Not Attached to the Complaint

Wisconsin’s court of appeals recently adopted the incorporation-by-reference doctrine as part of the state’s pleading standard in Soderlund v. Zibolski, No. 14AP2479 (Sept. 22, 2015). The decision, written by Judge Cane of District III (and recommended for publication in the official reports), allows a circuit court to consider documents referred to in a complaint even if those … Continue reading this entry

When “Shall” Means “May”: Wisconsin Court of Appeals Allows Mortgage Lenders to Slow the Foreclosure Sale Process

Last week we discussed the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in Bank of New York v. Carson permitting circuit courts to force a mortgagee to hold a sheriff’s sale. Today we rewind the clock a bit to a decision last December by the Court of Appeals on a different aspect of Wisconsin’s foreclosure regime. In Bank … Continue reading this entry

Is There a Constitutional Right to 12% Interest?

Central bankers have been the bane of a saver’s return for awhile now, but Wisconsin’s court of appeals appears to have carved out a place for litigants to earn a market-beating return. In a decision issued by District II (written by Chief Judge Brown and joined by Judges Reilly and Gundrum), the court recently decided … Continue reading this entry

No Diagnosis, No “Damages”: Wisconsin’s Construction Statute of Repose in Asbestos Cases

How to apply Wisconsin’s construction statute of repose, Wis. Stat. § 893.89, in asbestos cases has recently been a hot topic dividing trial courts. The statute bars a broad category of claims if they are brought more than 10 years after the date of substantial completion of an improvement to real property. Many corporate defendants … Continue reading this entry

In Need of a Tune Up: Wisconsin’s Court of Appeals Considers Personal Jurisdiction in the Internet Age

Last year, we wrote about the Seventh Circuit’s interpretation of the emerging issue of personal jurisdiction in the context of internet activity. Courts understandably have been wary of subjecting businesses to broad jurisdiction in all 50 states based solely on an internet presence. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals continued this trend with its decision last … Continue reading this entry

Undocumented Workers Are Protected by Wisconsin's FMLA

Wisconsin’s court of appeals, in a published opinion written by Judge Reilly, recently decided that undocumented workers are protected by Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Burlington Graphic Systems v. DWD, 14AP762. The decision has no practical effect on employers who comply with Wisconsin’s FMLA (and federal immigration law), but the lesson from the decision is that, if … Continue reading this entry

No Need to Mail Process to the Government on a Saturday, Even if the Post Office Is Open

In Wisconsin, a party seeking judicial review of an administrative decision must, within 30 days of service of the agency decision, file a petition for review in the trial court and serve the agency with a copy of the petition. If the 30th day falls on a Saturday and the agency is closed on Saturday, the party can wait … Continue reading this entry

When Serving Process by Mail, You Can't Send It to the Wrong Address

If personal service of a summons and complaint cannot be accomplished, a plaintiff in Wisconsin is permitted to serve process by publication. A plaintiff serving by publication must also mail a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant’s address when known or ascertainable. Wis. Stat. § 801.11. In O’Donnell v. Kaye, No. 13AP2651 (Ct. App. Dec. 3, … Continue reading this entry

Appraisal of Insurance Losses and the “Actual” Definition of “Actual Cash Value”

Imagine a devastating fire renders your rental property uninhabitable. You dig out your insurance policy and are relieved to find that you are insured up to the “actual cash value” of the building. But what exactly does this phrase mean? The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently grappled with this question in Coppins v. Allstate Indem. Co., No. … Continue reading this entry

When Is the Presence of Lactobacillus Acidophilus an Occurrence Under a CGL Policy?

In Wisconsin Pharmacal Co. v. Nebraska Cultures of California, No. 13AP613 (Wis. Ct. App. Oct. 29, 2014), the Wisconsin Court of Appeals analyzed the circumstances under which a supplier’s negligent provision of an incorrect ingredient to a manufacturer, where the ingredient renders the other ingredients and the final product unusable, constitutes an “occurrence” under a commercial general liability … Continue reading this entry

Suing the State: Class Action or “Mass Action”

Wisconsin’s court of appeals recently clarified the extent to which class-action lawsuits may be brought against Wisconsin governmental entities in Townsend v. Neenah Joint School District, No. 13AP2839 (Oct. 22, 2014). Wisconsin cases have recognized the tension between the class-action device and Wisconsin’s requirement that a plaintiff provide a “notice of claim” to a governmental entity before … Continue reading this entry

Wisconsin's Court of Appeals Rejects Municipality's "Fee in Lieu of Room Tax"

Nothing in life might be certain but death and taxes, but a recent decision from Wisconsin’s court of appeals turned out to be an exception to that rule. In Bentivenga v. City of Delavan, No. 2014AP137 (Ct. App. Oct. 15, 2014), District II held that the City of Delavan could not require certain condominium owners to … Continue reading this entry

Violation of OSHA Standards Now More Costly in Wisconsin

Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court resolved its first case of the year. It affirmed, by an equally divided court, the published opinion of the court of appeals in Sohn v. LIRC, 350 Wis. 2d 469. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals had earlier held that an employer was required to make the “penalty” payment under Wis. Stat. … Continue reading this entry

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Provides a Lesson in Documenting the Settlement

A recent case from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals demonstrates the necessity of properly documenting the details of a settlement after agreement is reached on the amount. In Singler v. Zurich American Insurance Co., 2014AP391, Robert Singler and Zurich American Insurance Co. agreed to settle Singler’s personal injury claims for $1.9 million on the eve … Continue reading this entry

Blackstone and Booze: Wisconsin Court of Appeals Discusses Retroactivity of Judicial Decisions

On August 26, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals released Mixx Night Club v. Milwaukee, 13AP2599, an opinion analyzing the retroactivity of Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions. The case began with a rowdy nightclub in Milwaukee. The City of Milwaukee “non-renewed” Mixx Nightclub’s Class B tavern license, after “numerous disturbances” at Mixx in 2011 and 2012. Mixx sought … Continue reading this entry

Got (Raw) Milk? How About Jurisdiction? Something's Sour in the Raw-Milk Case

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals released its opinion in Farm-To-Consumer v. Wis. DATCP, 11AP2264, a closely watched case involving Wisconsin’s regulation of raw-milk production. A couple of local farmers had sought a declaratory judgment, invalidating a Wisconsin law criminalizing the distribution and sale of raw milk. The court of appeals’ decision was a long time … Continue reading this entry

Wisconsin Adopts Twombly, Though "No One Is Sure What Twombly Means"

In Data Key Partners v. Permira Advisers LLC, 2014 WI 86, the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted the “plausibility” pleading standard articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), which overruled the Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957), “beyond doubt”/”no set of facts” standard. Now, in … Continue reading this entry

Wis. Supreme Court Accepts New Case: When Are Covenants Not to Compete Illusory for At-Will Employees?

Last month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court accepted the Court of Appeals’ certification in Runzheimer Int’l, Ltd. v. Friedlen, No. 13AP1392 (Apr. 15, 2014). The intermediate appellate court had certified the following question: “Is consideration in addition to continued employment required to support a covenant not to compete entered into by an existing at-will employee?” This case arises out of … Continue reading this entry