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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

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s restitution order of $8,487.41 against Defendant for losses caused by his burglary of a residence, holding that the circuit court did not err in calculating the amount of restitution. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court erred in alleging prior burglaries of the victim’s home in violation of Wis. Stat. 973.20. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) there was no evidence presented at the restitution hearing to support a finding that the victim’s missing property was stolen on any other date than the date of the burglary considered at sentencing; and (2) the circuit court did not clearly err in finding that the victim met her burden in proving the amount of loss resulting from the crime considered at sentencing and in ordering restitution at $8,487.41. View "State v. Wiskerchen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the conclusion of the circuit court that Appellants’ one-acre parcel of property met the statutory requirements for the transfer of a cemetery to the Town of Forest, holding that Appellants failed to prove that the parcel was a cemetery, and therefore, the parcel was not subject to the transfer mechanism set forth in Wis. Stat. 157.115(1)(c). Appellants filed a petition asserting that their one-acre parcel was a cemetery where they believed their relatives were buried, that the parcel was neglected or abandoned, and that the Town should manage the parcel as a town cemetery pursuant to section 157.115(1)(c). The circuit court agreed and granted the petition. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the parcel was not a cemetery, and therefore, the section 157.115(1)(c) cemetery transfer mechanism was not applicable. View "DeWitt v. Ferries" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s judgment of conviction of Defendant for operating while intoxicated (OWI) as a second offense, holding, among other things, that a prior expunged OWI conviction must be counted as a prior conviction under Wis. Stat. 343.307(1) when determining the penalty for OWI-related offenses. In 2011, Defendant was convicted of injuring another person by operation of a vehicle while intoxicated. The circuit court later ordered expunction of Defendant’s 2011 conviction. In 2016, Defendant was charged with one count of OWI as a second offense. The State relied on Defendant’s expunged 2011 conviction as the prior predicate offense under section 343.307(1) in order to charge him with second offenses. After Defendant was convicted, he appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a prior expunged OWI conviction constitutes a prior conviction under section 343.307(1); and (2) the State must prove a prior OWI conviction in a second offense OWI-related offense by a preponderance of the evidence. View "State v. Braunschweig" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was the circuit court’s role in determining the proper forum of dispute resolution when a subsequent contract, if enforceable, does not contain an arbitration clause that is present in an initial contract. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the non-final order of the circuit court denying a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the initial agreement in this case, as well as the circuit court’s granting of a motion for declaratory judgment that the subsequent agreement was a valid contract, holding that, if valid, the subsequent agreement released certain parties from the agreement to arbitrate contained in the initial agreement, and the cause must be remanded to determine whether the subsequent agreement was a valid contract. The circuit court concluded that even though the initial agreement required arbitration, it was superseded by the subsequent agreement, which did not require the parties to submit to arbitration. The court of appeals concluded that arbitration was required pursuant to the initial agreement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the determination of arbitrability must be decided by the circuit court rather than an arbitrator and that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the subsequent agreement was a valid contract. View "Midwest Neurosciences Associates, LLC v. Great Lakes Neurosurgical Associates, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress and remanded the cause to the circuit court with instructions to suppress the challenged evidence and vacate Defendant’s convictions, holding that the searches at issue violated the United States and Wisconsin constitutions. Defendant was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and bail jumping. In the circuit court, Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the law enforcement officer’s warrantless entry into her apartment was not justified under any of the exceptions to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, and therefore, the evidence obtained during the searches of her apartment and person should be suppressed. The circuit court denied the motion to suppress, concluding that the officer had consent to enter Defendant’s apartment and that exigent circumstances justified the officer’s pushing open the apartment door. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the officer did not have consent to enter Defendant’s apartment; and (2) exigent circumstances did not justify the officer’s opening Defendant’s apartment door. View "State v. Reed" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and convicting Defendant of burglary and possession of burglarious tools, holding that a search warrant issued for the placement and use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking evidence on a motor vehicle, but not executed within five days after the date of issuance under Wis. Stat. 968.15 or timely returned under Wis. Stat. 968.17(1), is not void if the search was otherwise reasonably conducted. At issue on appeal was whether the warrant in this case was governed by Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 968 and whether the warrant complied with the Fourth Amendment to the United State Constitution and Article I, Section 11 of the Wisconsin Constitution’s guarantees against unreasonable searches. The Court held (1) the GPS warrant in this case was not subject to the statutory limitations and requirements of Chapter 968; and (2) the GPS warrant complied with Fourth Amendment principles. View "State v. Pinder" on Justia Law

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In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s interlocutory order that determined that the fire at issue constituted multiple occurrences instead of a single occurrence, holding that the fire constituted a single occurrence pursuant to the commercial general liability (CGL) policy. The court of appeals concluded (1) under the CGL policy, there was an occurrence each time the fire spread to a new piece of real property, and (2) therefore, the $2 million aggregate limit applied rather than the $500,000 per-occurrence limit for property damage due to fire arising from logging and lumbering operations. Both the circuit court and court of appeals purported to apply the “cause theory.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals’ approach was unpersuasive and had unreasonable consequences and that the $500,000 per-occurrence limit for property damage applied. View "SECURA Insurance v. Lyme St. Croix Forest Company, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The City of Milwaukee’s 2013 amendment to its charter ordinance that reduced the right of each individual employee-member of the Employee Retirement System (ERS) to vote for three employees of his or her choice to serve on the ERS Annuity and Pension Board, modified the “other rights” of employee-members of the ERS who were members prior to the amendment and, therefore, was contrary to state law. In 1947, the State granted all first class cities the opportunity to manage the ERS pursuant to the exercise of home rule powers but also protected individual rights of those persons who were members of an ERS by precluding amendment that modified “the annuities, benefits, or other rights of any persons who are members of the system prior to the effective date of such amendment.” Laws of 1947, chapter 441, section 31(1). After the City amended its charter in 2013, Plaintiffs challenged the amendment, arguing that it violated state law. The Supreme Court agreed and restored the right of employee-members to vote for three employees of their choice to serve as employee-members of the Board. View "Milwaukee Police Ass’n v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred in granting Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence discovered during a search incident to arrest on the basis that “‘judicial integrity’ was vital enough to justify exclusion of evidence when the issuing court’s arrest warrant was invalid ab initio.” Defendant was charged with one count of possession of methamphetamine. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that, while a warrant had been issued and law enforcement did not engage in misconduct in executing the warrant, his constitutional rights were violated because the warrant violated his due process rights. The reviewing court agreed and granted the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) suppression of evidence discovered during the search incident to arrest was not appropriate because the sole purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter police misconduct, and there was no police misconduct in this case; and (2) neither judicial integrity nor judicial error is a standalone basis for suppression under the exclusionary rule. View "State v. Kerr" on Justia Law