Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
by
In this personal injury, the Supreme Court held that a plaintiff need not prove the exact moment the unsafe condition commenced so long as the evidence is sufficient to prove it existed long enough to give the defendant constructive notice of its presence. Plaintiff slipped on an unknown substance at Woodman's Food Market, causing him to fall and suffer injuries. Plaintiff sued Woodman's, alleging that the substance caused an unsafe condition and that Woodman's had constructive notice of its existence. During trial, Plaintiff introduced a security camera video showing the part of the store where he slipped and fell, but there was no evidence showing when the substance was deposited on the floor. The jury entered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff's motion for a directed verdict should have been granted because the evidence provided no indication of how long the hazard existed on Woodman's floor. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to permit an inference that the substance had been on Woodman's floor for at least ninety minutes, and therefore, the circuit court could reasonably conclude that there was some evidence to sustain Plaintiff's cause of action with respect to constructive notice. View "Correa v. Woodman's Food Market" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court concluding that Fryed Audio, LLC was entitled to recreational immunity from Plaintiff's tort action, holding that Fryed Audio was entitled to immunity pursuant to Wis. Stat. 895.52(2). Fryed Audio was a member of Rhythm Method, LLC, with whom the Lions Club of Cudahy Wisconsin, Inc. contracted to provide music for its festival. At the event. Plaintiff allegedly tripped on an electronic cord that Steven Fry, the sole member of Fryed Audio, laid. Plaintiff sued Fryed Audio for negligence. Fryed Audio moved for summary judgment under Wis. Stat. 895.52(2), which provides that agents of owners have immunity from claims by those who enter property of a statutory owner to engage in recreational activity. The circuit court granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Lions Club lacked the right to control Fryed Audio. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) there were no issues of material fact as to the Lions Club's right to control Fryed Audio in regard to laying the cords, and Fryed Audio was an agent of the Lions Club; and (2) the Lions Club was a statutory owner, and therefore, Fryed Audio was entitled to immunity. View "Lang v. Lions Club of Cudahy Wisconsin, Inc." on Justia Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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