Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court

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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

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Petitioners brought suit against Pro Electric Contractors for negligence in connection with Pro Electric’s work as a contractor on a government construction project. Pro Electric argued that the damage at issue occurred because of construction design decisions made by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) and that Pro Electric was simply implementing DOT’s decisions. The district court granted summary judgment for Pro Electric. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the undisputed facts do not support a reasonable inference that Pro Electric failed to comply with its duties in Wis. Stat. 182.0175(2)(am). View "Melchert v. Pro Electric Contractors" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sustained personal injury and property damage in a car accident with Defendant, a State employee. Plaintiff delivered notice of claim to the attorney general by personal service and then instituted a negligence action against Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Sorenson did not strictly comply with Wis. Stat. 893.82, which requires service of notice of claim on the attorney general by certified mail. The circuit court denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss, concluding that service was proper. The court of appeals reversed, holding that delivering notice by personal service does not comply with the plain language of section 893.82(5). View "Sorenson v. Batchelder" on Justia Law

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Patti Roberts was injured at a charity event sponsored by Green Valley Enterprises when she was waiting in line to ride in a hot air balloon and was struck by the balloon’s basket. Sundog Ballooning, LLC was the owner and operator of the hot air balloon providing tethered rides at the event. Roberts filed suit against Sundog, alleging negligence. Sundog moved for summary judgment, arguing that Wisconsin’s recreational immunity statute barred Roberts’s claims and that her claims were barred by a waiver of liability form that she signed. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Sundog, concluding that Sundog was entitled to recreational immunity and that the waiver of liability form Roberts signed was valid as a matter of law. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Sundog was not entitled to immunity under Wis. Stat. 895.52 because it was not an “owner” under the statute; and (2) the waiver of liability form violated public policy and was unenforceable as a matter of law. View "Roberts v. T.H.E. Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The underlying coverage dispute arose from the supplying of a defective ingredient for incorporation into Wisconsin Pharmacal Company (Pharmacal) probiotic supplement tablets. Pharmacal brought this action against Jeneil Biotech, Inc. and Nebraska Cultures of California, Inc. (the Insureds) and the Netherlands Insurance Company and Evanston Insurance Company (the Insurers), alleging numerous tort and contract claims. The Insurers moved for summary judgment, arguing that their respective insurance policies did not cover any damages that arose out of the causes of action against the Insureds. The circuit court granted the Insurers’ motions for summary judgment, determining that the facts of this case did not trigger the Insurers’ duties to defend. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the policies provided coverage. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no “property damage” caused by an “occurrence” in this case, and even if there were, certain exclusions in both policies applied to negate coverage. View "Wis. Pharmacal Co., LLC v. Neb. Cultures of Cal., Inc." on Justia Law