Category Archives: Wisconsin Decisions

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When “Shall” Means “Shall”: Wisconsin Supreme Court Requires Mortgage Lenders to Sell Abandoned Properties in Foreclosure

Last week the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its decision in Bank of New York v. Carson, 2015 WI 15, a case we previewed here. The case is significant for its potential lasting effects on mortgage foreclosures in Wisconsin. The Carson case involves interpretation of Wis. Stat. § 846.102, which applies to foreclosure of “abandoned” properties. In … 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

More Confusion in Wisconsin's Supreme Court?

We wrote earlier this week about the new opinion drafting procedure in Wisconsin’s supreme court. To recap, the state’s justices voted 4-3 earlier this term to impose deadlines on the drafting process, presumably in response to the recent trend in which most of the court’s work has been released in the final weeks of its … Continue reading this entry

Wisconsin Supreme Court Puts Some Teeth Into Opinion Drafting Rules

An unusual thing happened earlier this month at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Ramon Gonzalez, an inmate, was tried for a fight in the Milwaukee County Jail. To assist the jury in identifying Gonzalez as a participant in the fight, the judge ordered him to show his teeth to the jury. This revealed the dental modifications for which Gonzalez had received … 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

After the Bank Forecloses, Must It Actually Sell Your House?

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will answer this question in Bank of New York v. Carson, No. 2013AP544. It heard argument in this case last Tuesday. The case began more than 3 1/2 years ago when a widow—physically and financially unable to care for her house—vacated her house and did not answer or dispute foreclosure. During the … Continue reading this entry

Wisconsin Supreme Court 2013-2014 Term Summary Part 3: Recap of Cases Affecting Wisconsin Businesses

This post is the third in a series of posts analyzing the 2013-14 term of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. For our previous posts click here and here. This post provides in a nutshell what businesses need to know about the cases from last year’s term of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We already have written about … 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

Wisconsin Supreme Court 2013-2014 Term Summary Part 2: A Divided Court?

This post is the second in a series of posts analyzing the 2013-14 term of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. For our previous post click here. In our last post, we observed that the Wisconsin Supreme Court released unanimous opinions more quickly than non-unanimous opinions and that the court had released opinions very slowly this year. … 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

Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Decision in Associated Bank N.A. v. Collier Changes the Rules for Collecting Judgments

In Wisconsin, supplemental proceedings under Wis. Stat. ch. 816 are the principal tool by which a judgment creditor can discover assets of the judgment debtor in aid of collection. But for the last 15 years, they have also been the mechanism by which sophisticated judgment creditors have obtained a lien in all the personal property … Continue reading this entry

The Doctrine of Equitable Assignment is Alive and Well in Wisconsin

That was the holding of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in an opinion issued on Thursday in Dow Family, LLC v. PHH Mortgage Corporation, 2014 WI 56. The facts of the case are similar to thousands of foreclosure cases prosecuted in Wisconsin every year, but with a couple of interesting twists, which we summarized in a … Continue reading this entry