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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Steven Tikalsky's "constructive trust" count as against Terry Stevens, holding that a constructive trust is a remedy, not a cause of action, and that the circuit court properly dismissed Terry from the case with prejudice. At issue in this case was the proper distribution of Donald and Betty Lou Tikalsky's estate. Steven sued his sister, Terry, and two other siblings to obtain part of the inheritance they received from their parents. As against Terry, Steven asserted "constructive trust" as a cause of action. The circuit court granted summary judgment against Steven on the constructive trust count and dismissed Terry from the lawsuit. The court of appeals reversed, holding that a constructive trust remained a "permissible equitable remedy" as to Terry. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under the proper circumstances, a constructive trust may be imposed on property in the possession of one who is innocent of any inequitable conduct; but (2) the complaint in this case did not state a cause of action against Terry nor assert any other grounds upon which a constructive trust could be imposed, and therefore, Terry was properly dismissed from the case with prejudice. View "Tikalsky v. Friedman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court ordered that Racine County Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Piontek be suspended from the office of circuit judge without compensation and prohibited from exercising any of the powers or duties of a Wisconsin circuit judge, for a period of five days, holding that suspension was warranted. The Judicial Commission filed a complaint against Judge Piontek alleging that he had engaged in judicial misconduct by his actions in presiding over two different criminal matters. The Judicial Conduct Panel recommended that the Supreme Court suspend Judge Piontek between five and fifteen days. The Supreme Court found that suspension was warranted and that a five-day suspension was appropriate. View "Wisconsin Judicial Commission v. Piontek" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals dismissing J.W.K.'s appeal challenging the sufficiency of the evidence extending his commitment, holding that J.W.K.'s sufficiency challenge was moot. J.W.K. was originally committed in February 2016 for six months under Wis. Stat. 51.20. In July 2016, Portage County filed a petition seeking to extend J.W.K.'s commitment for twelve months. The circuit court found the statutory dangerousness standard was satisfied and extended J.W.K.'s commitment for twelve months. J.W.K. filed a notice of appeal. Thereafter, in 2017, the County filed a petition seeking another twelve-month extension of J.W.K.'s commitment, which the circuit court granted. The court of appeals dismissed J.W.K.'s appeal as moot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that reversing the expired 2016 order for insufficient evidence would have no effect on subsequent recommitment orders because later orders stand on their own under the language of section 51.20. View "Portage County v. J.W.K." 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 the Town of Rib Mountain's action seeking a declaration that Marathon County lacked the authority to establish a rural naming or numbering system in towns, holding that Wis. Stat. 59.54(4) does not restrict a county's authority to "establish a rural naming or numbering system in towns" to only rural areas within towns. In 2016, Marathon County decided to establish a uniform naming and numbering system. The Town of Rib Mountain was one of the towns required to participate in the addressing system. The Town filed this action for declaratory relief alleging that the statute confines counties to implementing naming and numbering systems only within "rural" areas of towns. The circuit court denied relief. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the use of the word "rural" unambiguously demonstrated that the legislature intended to restrict a county's naming and numbering authority to "rural" areas. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the statutory text provides that a county may establish a rural naming or numbering system "in towns"; and (2) accordingly, Marathon County acted within its authority by enacting an ordinance to create a uniform naming and numbering system in towns throughout Marathon County. View "Town of Rib Mountain v. Marathon County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order denying Appellant's motion for early termination of probation, holding that the circuit court did not have inherent authority to grant Appellant's motion for early termination of probation. Appellant argued that, notwithstanding the requirements of Wis. Stat. 973.09(3)(d), which direct the circuit court how it may modify a person's period of probation and discharge the person from probation, circuit courts have the inherent authority to reduce or terminate a term of probation, and the statue could not take that right away. The State countered that Appellant was not eligible for early termination of his probation because he did not meet the requirements of section 973.09(3)(d). The circuit court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Wisconsin courts do not have the inherent authority to reduce or terminate a period of probation. View "State v. Schwind" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims alleging mismanagement of their retirement benefits, holding that, despite the court of appeals' erroneous holding that Data Key Partners v. Permira Advisers LLC, 849 N.W.2d 693 (Wis. 2014), has created a new pleading standard in Wisconsin, Plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In affirming the circuit court's dismissal, the court of appeals held (1) the Supreme Court's decision in Data Key created a new, heightened pleading standard in Wisconsin; and (2) under this new standard, Plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court unanimously concludes that the decision in Data Key did not change Wisconsin's pleading standard, as articulated in Strid v. Converse, 331 N.W.2d 350 (Wis. 1983); but (2) the Court is equally divided as to whether Plaintiffs stated a claim based on the Data Key/Strid standard, and therefore, the court of appeals' decision is affirmed. View "Cattau v. National Insurance Services of Wisconsin, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's order granting Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a search of Defendant's vehicle during a traffic stop, holding that none of the officer's questions or actions violated the Fourth Amendment. Defendant was charged with unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon. The weapon was discovered in the glove compartment of Defendant's vehicle during a traffic stop. In his motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the police violated the Fourth Amendment by asking Defendant whether he had a weapon in the vehicle, asking whether he held a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and verifying whether Defendant had a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon. The circuit court granted the motion to suppress, concluding that the officer unlawfully extended the traffic stop by asking whether Defendant had a weapon in the vehicle and whether he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated. View "State v. Wright" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint against Armslist, LLC, holding that because all of Plaintiff's claims for relief required Armslist to be treated as the publisher or speaker of information posted by third parties on Armslist's firearm advertising website, armslist.com, the circuit court properly dismissed Plaintiff's complaint. This tort action arose from a mass shooting in a Wisconsin spa that killed four people, including Plaintiff's motion. In her action, Plaintiff alleged that the shooter illegally purchased the firearm used in the shooting after responding to a private seller's post on armslist.com. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA), 47 U.S.C. 230, barred all of Plaintiff's claims against Armslist. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the CDA does not protect a website operator from liability for its own actions in designing and operating its website. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 230(c)(1) prohibits claims that treat Armslist, an interactive computer service provider, as the publisher or speaker of information posted by a third party on its website, and therefore, Plaintiff's claims are barred by section 230(c)(1). View "Daniel v. Armslist, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals upholding the circuit court's dismissal of Petitioner's inverse condemnation claim against Respondent based on Petitioner's noncompliance with Wis. Stat. 893.80(1d), the notice of claim statute, holding that because the Respondent failed to raise noncompliance with the statute in a responsive pleading, Respondent waived this affirmative defense. Petitioner initiated this action bringing two causes of action against Respondent, one for inverse condemnation and the other for unlawful sanitary sewer charges and levy of taxation. Respondent filed an answer and a counterclaim but did not affirmatively plead that Petitioner had failed to comply with section 893.80(1d). The circuit court dismissed the inverse condemnation claim, concluding that Petitioner had failed to comply with the notice of claim statute. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) noncompliance with the notice of claim statute is an affirmative defense that must be set forth in a responsive pleading; and (2) Respondent waived the defense because it failed to set forth the defense in its answer and did not amend its answer to include the defense. View "Maple Grove Country Club Inc. v. Maple Grove Estates Sanitary District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order granting Security Finance's (Security) motion to dismiss Brian Kirsch's (Kirsch) counterclaims against Security under Wis. Stat. Chapters 425 and 427, holding that Kirsch's counterclaims were properly dismissed. Security and Kirsch entered into a loan agreement. Kirsch later defaulted on the payment obligation. Security subsequently filed a small claims lawsuit against Kirsch to enforce the agreement and collect the alleged debt. Kirsch counterclaimed for damages under chapter 427, the Wisconsin Consumer Act, on the grounds that Security filed this action before serving Kirsch with a notice of right to cure default satisfying the requirements set forth in chapter 425. The circuit court dismissed the counterclaim relating to the notice of right to cure default. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a creditor's failure to provide a notice of right to cure default does not constitute a sufficient basis for relief under chapter 427. View "Security Finance v. Kirsch" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law