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When a foreclosure action brought on a borrower’s default on a note has been dismissed with prejudice, and the lender has not validly accelerated payment of the amount due under the note, claim preclusion does not bar the lender from bringing a subsequent foreclosure action based upon the borrower’s continuing default on the same note. After Borrower defaulted on a note, Lender filed suit seeking to foreclose on the property securing the note. The circuit court determined that Lender failed to present sufficient evidence to prevail in its foreclosure action and dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice. Later, Bank, the entity servicing Borrower's loan, sent Borrower a notice of intent to accelerate payment of the note. Borrower did not cure his default, and Bank filed a complaint initiating the instant lawsuit. Borrower moved to dismiss, arguing that the lawsuit was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. The circuit court did not apply claim preclusion to any default alleged to have occurred after judgment was entered in the earlier lawsuit. The Supreme Court affirmed this conclusion, holding that claim preclusion did not bar the second lawsuit because the lawsuit alleged new facts giving rise to a new and subsequent default and a different transaction than that presented in the first foreclosure action. View "Federal National Mortgage Ass’n v. Thompson" on Justia Law

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Circuit courts possess statutory competency to proceed in criminal matters when the adult defendant was charged for conduct he committed before his tenth birthday. Defendant was charged with four counts of criminal misconduct. Defendant was nine through twelve years old during the time period charged in count one and fourteen through eighteen years old during the time period charged in counts two through four. Defendant was nineteen years old when the charges were filed. The jury acquitted Defendant of count one but convicted him of counts two through four. Defendant brought a postconviction motion alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to bring a pre-trial motion to dismiss count one. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the defendant’s age at the time he is charged, not his age at the time the underlying conduct occurred, determines whether charges are properly brought as a criminal matter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court possessed statutory competency to hear Defendant’s case as a criminal matter because he was an adult at the time he was charged; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s counsel did not perform deficiently by failing to raise a meritless motion. View "State v. Sanders" on Justia Law

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The intent-effects test is the proper test used to determine whether a sanction is “punishment” such that due process requires a defendant be informed of it before entering a plea of guilty. In the instant case, the circuit court failed to inform Defendant that his plea of guilty to second-degree sexual assault would subject him to lifetime GPS tracking pursuant to Wis. Stat. 301.48. The circuit court concluded that lifetime GPS tracking is not punishment and therefore denied Defendant’s motion to withdraw his plea. Applying the intent-effects test to the facts of this case, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither the intent nor effect of lifetime GPS tracking is punitive. View "State v. Muldrow" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the circuit court ruling that Defendant’s trial counsel’s failure to object to an exhibit sent to the jury during deliberations constituted ineffective assistance with respect to only one of the six counts for which Defendant was convicted. On appeal, Defendant argued that all six of his convictions should be vacated due to his trial counsel’s deficient performance and that the State forfeited its right to argue the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance test at his Machner hearing. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) circuit courts reviewing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel following multiple-count trials may conclude that deficient performance prejudiced only one of the multiple convictions; and (2) the State did not forfeit its right to challenge the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance test when it did not petition the Supreme Court for review following the court of appeals’ original decision remanding for a Machner hearing. View "State v. Sholar" 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

Posted in: Personal Injury

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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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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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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s determination that real estate broker Mark McNally was entitled to a commission pursuant to a listing contract between the parties. Capital Cartage, Inc. argued before the Supreme Court that McNally was not entitled to a commission because the offer to purchase McNally procured contained substantial variances from the seller’s terms as set forth in the listing contract. The Supreme Court held (1) Kleven v. Cities Service Oil Co., 126 N.W.2d 64, is the law with regard to determining whether a substantial variance exists between a listing contract and an offer to purchase; (2) applying this standard, in the context of the sale of a business with real estate where the sale did not go through, McNally did not procure an offer to purchase “at the price and on substantially the terms set forth” in the listing contract; and (3) therefore, McNally was not entitled to a commission. View "McNally v. Capital Cartage, Inc." on Justia Law

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The classification of real property for tax purposes is based on the actual use of the property, and an injunction prohibiting agricultural use of a residentially-zoned property, which is based on a restrictive covenant, does not control the property’s tax assessment classification. However, the record before the Board in this case contained no evidence that the property was used agriculturally within the meaning of Wisconsin tax law. Donald Thoma and Polk Properties LLC (collectively, Thoma) challenged the Village of Slinger’s 2014 property tax assessment for land Thoma attempted to develop into a residential subdivision. The property previously operated as a farm and received an agricultural classification for tax assessment purposes. Thoma and the Village later entered into an agreement that contained a restrictive covenant prohibiting Thoma from using the land for agriculture. The Village then obtained an injunction prohibiting any agricultural use on the property. The Board voted to uphold the assessor’s assessment, which the assessor reached by changing the use classification from agricultural to residential. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board’s decision upholding the tax assessment was lawful and supported by a reasonable view of the evidence; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Thoma’s request to vacate the original order. View "Thoma v. Village of Slinger" on Justia Law

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In finding Appellant to be a sexually violent person under Wis. Stat. 980.02(1)(a) the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion when it admitted expert testimony based on the results of the Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool-Revised (MnSOST-R) and the Rapid Risk Assessment for Sexual Offense Recidivism (RRASOR) tests, which are instruments designed to measure an offender’s risk of reoffending. The State filed a petition to commit Appellant as a sexually violent person. Prior to the commitment trial, Appellant filed motion in liming to exclude the expert testimony, arguing that the testimony as to the results produced by the MnSOST-R and the RRASOR was not admissible under Wis. Stat. 907.02 because it was not based on sufficient facts or data, was not the product of reliable principles and methods, and was not reliably applied to the facts of the case. The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court evaluated the relevant facts under the proper standard and articulated a reasonable basis for its decision and thus did not erroneously exercise its discretion. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law