Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's order that determined that Plaintiffs' claims against Defendant-insurance company were barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion, holding that claim preclusion barred the claims of certain plaintiffs, but the Court was evenly divided as to whether claim preclusion barred the claims brought by a fourth plaintiff. This case arose from a car accident in which a mother and her three daughters were seriously injured. The father was not in the car. The accident resulted in two separate lawsuits. In the first action, the mother brought a negligence claim against the driver of the other vehicle and her insurer, State Farm. The children were also named as plaintiffs. The action settled. The second lawsuit brought by the family, including the father, alleging that the driver of the car in which they were passengers was negligent. Plaintiffs sued the driver's insurer directly. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that the action was barred by claim preclusion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court held (1) claim preclusion barred the claims brought by the mother and daughters in the second action; but (2) the court of appeals properly allowed the father's claims to proceed. View "Teske v. Wilson Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the MacLeish children's claim against the Boardman law firm for legal malpractice, holding that Charles MacLeish's clear testamentary intent was not thwarted by any alleged negligence on the part of Boardman, and therefore, the action was properly dismissed. David, Hayden, Kay, and Robin MacLeish brought this action against Boardman, the law firm that administered their father's estate. The circuit court dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the children failed to demonstrate that Boardman's alleged negligent administration of their father's estate thwarted his clear testamentary intent. The Supreme Court declined the children's request to abandon Auric v. Continental Casualty Co., 331 N.W.2d 325 (1983), and affirmed, holding (1) the Auric exception to the rule of nonliability of an attorney to a non-client applies to the administration of an estate in addition to the drafting and execution of a will; (2) applying Auric to the facts of this case, the father's clear testamentary intent was not thwarted by Boardman's alleged negligence; and (3) therefore, the circuit court correctly dismissed the legal malpractice claim. View "MacLeish v. Boardman & Clark LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s order dismissing Petitioner’s complaint against the Village of Sister Bay alleging that some summer concerts held in a public park were a public and private nuisance, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in failing to view each concert as a new nuisance prompting a new notice of injury period; but (2) Petitioner’s written notice of injury was not timely filed. On appeal, Petitioner asserted that it should not be barred from bringing future nuisance actions against the Village because it failed to complain within 120 days as required by Wis. Stat. 898.80(1d)(a) about a noise nuisance from the date the first concert was held in 2014. The Supreme Court held (1) contrary to the decision of the court of appeals, each concert alleged to be a nuisance constitutes a separate event for purposes of filing a written notice of injury; but (2) Petitioner’s written notice of injury, which was not served within 120 days after the date of the last concert alleged to be a nuisance, was not timely filed. View "Yacht Club at Sister Bay Condominium Ass’n, Inc. v. Village of Sister Bay" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court’s denial of summary judgment to the City of New Berlin and the New Berlin Parks and Recreation Department (collectively, New Berlin) on this negligence action, holding that the known danger exception to governmental immunity applied in this case. Eight-year-old Lily Engelhardt drowned in a swimming pool at an aquatic center in a field trip organized and run by the New Berlin Parks and Recreation Department. While the “playground coordinator” was informed the Lily could not swim, Lily drowned while staff were changing in the locker rooms. After Lily’s parents filed suit, New Berlin moved for summary judgment, asserting that it was immune from suit pursuant to the governmental immunity statute, Wis. Stat. 893.80(4). The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed and granted New Berlin’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the danger to which Lily was exposed at the pool was compelling and self-evident, and therefore, the staff had a ministerial duty to give Lily a swim test before allowing her near the pool; and (2) because the staff did not perform this ministerial duty, New Berlin was not entitled to the defense of governmental immunity. View "Engelhardt v. City of New Berlin" on Justia Law

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At issue was the rule that the company that purchases the assets of another is not responsible for the latter’s liabilities and the rule’s common-law exception when the parties use the transaction to fraudulently escape responsibility for those liabilities. Plaintiff, whose husband died from mesothelioma, sued Fire Brick Engineers Co. and Powers Holdings, Inc. alleging they were negligent in manufacturing or distributing the asbestos products to which Plaintiff’s husband was exposed. The complaint identified Powers Holdings as the successor to Fire Brick. Powers asserted that Plaintiff brought the action against the wrong entity because Powers was not liable for the torts of its predecessor corporations. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Powers. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a determination of whether Powers should be held responsible for the liabilities of its predecessor company, concluding that the question of whether a transfer transaction was entered into fraudulent must be answered in the context of Wisconsin’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Powers was entitled to summary judgment because the Act does not govern the “fraudulent transaction” exception to the rule of successor non-liability. View "Springer v. Nohl Electric Products Corp." on Justia Law

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The business-owners liability insurance policy in this case did not provide coverage for a negligent supervision claim arising out of an alleged employee’s intentional act of physically punching a customer in the face. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the Insurer, concluding that there was no coverage under the policy for either the employee’s intentional act or the negligent supervision claim against the employer arising out of the employee’s intentional act. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that where the negligent supervision claim pled rested solely on the employee’s intentional and unlawful act without any separate bais for a negligence claim against the employer, no coverage existed. View "Talley v. Mustafa" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued Creekside Tree Service, Inc. and its insurer, Selective Insurance Company of South Carolina, after Plaintiffs’ wife and mother was killed when a tree branch cut by Creekside fell on her while she was walking on a public path through the property of Conference Point Center. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Creekside on the ground that the recreational immunity statute, Wis. Stat. 895.52, barred claims against it. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Creekside, as the entity hired by Conference Point to complete a tree-trimming project, was not protected from liability as an “agent” of Conference Point under Wis. Stat. 895.52(2)(b); and (2) Creekside was not entitled to recreational immunity as an occupier of the Conference Point property such that it was a statutory “owner” of the property at the time of the accident. View "Westmas v. Selective Insurance Co. of South Carolina" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued Creekside Tree Service, Inc. and its insurer, Selective Insurance Company of South Carolina, after Plaintiffs’ wife and mother was killed when a tree branch cut by Creekside fell on her while she was walking on a public path through the property of Conference Point Center. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Creekside on the ground that the recreational immunity statute, Wis. Stat. 895.52, barred claims against it. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Creekside, as the entity hired by Conference Point to complete a tree-trimming project, was not protected from liability as an “agent” of Conference Point under Wis. Stat. 895.52(2)(b); and (2) Creekside was not entitled to recreational immunity as an occupier of the Conference Point property such that it was a statutory “owner” of the property at the time of the accident. View "Westmas v. Selective Insurance Co. of South Carolina" on Justia Law

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An employee is not eligible for benefits under Wis. Stat. 102.42(1m) if the disability-causing treatment was directed at treating something other than the employee’s compensable injury. Plaintiff suffered from a soft-tissue strain, which was work-related, and a degenerate disc disease, which was not work-related. In the belief that it was necessary to treat her soft-tissue strain, Plaintiff underwent surgery, which, in actuality, was treating the unrelated degenerative disc disease. The procedure left Plaintiff with a permanent partial disability. Plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim, which the * Commission denied. The circuit court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that, based on its interpretation of section 102.42(1m), an employee need only have a good faith belief that the treatment was required. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and affirmed the Commission’s order dismissing Plaintiff’s claim for disability benefits, holding that Plaintiff’s claim must be allowed because her surgery treated her pre-existing condition, not her compensable injury. View "Flug v. Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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Garland Brothers Joint Venture owned property at which Charter Manufacturing Company had housed its business under a triple net lease. MWF later purchased the property. MWF hired Hunzinger Construction to perform renovation work on the property. Russell Brenner, a Hunzinger employee, was injured while performing the work. Brenner and his wife sued MWF, Garland Brothers, and Charter, alleging negligence and violation of Wisconsin’s safe-place statutes. The circuit court dismissed Charter and Garland Brothers, concluding that the caveat emptor principle precluded judgment against them. The Brenners subsequently settled with Charter and Garland Brothers. MWF appealed Charter’s dismissal. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s summary judgment in favor of Charter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the caveat emptor doctrine applied to Charter, and MWF did not establish any exception to the doctrine in this case. View "Brenner v. National Casualty Co." on Justia Law