Justia Wisconsin Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Consumer Law
Murphy v. Columbus McKinnon Corp.
The Supreme Court interpreted, for the first time, Wisconsin's product liability statute, Wis. Stat. 895.047, created in 2011, when the claim is for defective design, holding that the statute's plain language is clear in showing that the legislature codified the common-law consumer-contemplation standard in section 895.047(1)(b).Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) in interpreting Wisconsin's product liability statute when the claim is for a defective design, the statute requires proof of three elements; (2) the legislature codified the common-law consumer-contemplation standard in the statute and discarded the consumer-contemplation test by incorporating the risk-utility balancing test; and (3) this Court declines to adopt comment f of Restatement (Third) of Torts section 2, upon which the court of appeals relied. View "Murphy v. Columbus McKinnon Corp." on Justia Law
Duncan v. Asset Recovery Specialists, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's grant of summary judgment to Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's claims that Defendants violated Wis. Stat. 425.206(2)(b) by entering a parking garage to repossess her car and that Defendants' conduct during and after the repossession was unconscionable in violation of Wis. Stat. 425.107(1), holding that the circuit court erred.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the phrase "dwelling used by the customer as a residence" in section 425.206(2)(b) includes a garage attached to the residential building in which the customer lives; and (2) Plaintiff's claim of unconscionability under section 425.107 was not an "action or other proceeding brought by a creditor to enforce rights arising from consumer credit transactions," and therefore, the unconscionability claim must be dismissed. View "Duncan v. Asset Recovery Specialists, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Consumer Law
Hinrichs v. DOW Chemical Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's dismissal of Chris Hinrichs and Autovation Limited's (collectively, Hinrichs) common law misrepresentation claims against the DOW Chemical Company and reversing the circuit court's dismissal of Hinrichs' statutory claim under Wis. Stat. 100.18, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that, with regard to Hinrichs' common law claims, neither the "fraud in the inducement" exception nor the "other property exception" to the economic loss doctrine applied to allow Hinrichs' common law claims to go forward. With regard to Hinrichs' statutory claims the Court held (1) the economic loss doctrine does not serve as a bar to claims made under section 100.18; (2) because one person can be "the public" for purposes of section 100.18(1), the court of appeals did not err in determining that dismissal for failure to meet "the public" factor of the section 100.18 claim was in error; and (3) the heightened pleading standard for claims of fraud does not apply to claims made under section 100.18 and that Hinrichs' complaint stated a claim under the general pleading standard. View "Hinrichs v. DOW Chemical Co." on Justia Law
Security Finance v. Kirsch
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
Marquez v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC
Marco Marquez, the consumer, brought this action against Mercedes-Benz USA, alleging that his new car was a "lemon" under the state's Lemon Law, that he requested a refund and provided Mercedes-Benz with the required notice and information, and that Mercedez-Benz failed to provide a refund within the thirty-day period as required under the Lemon Law. At issue in this case was whether Marquez intentionally thwarted Mercedes-Benz's attempt to provide a refund within the thirty-day statutory period by failing to provide necessary information. On remand, the jury found in favor of Mercedes-Benz, but the circuit court entered a directed verdict in favor of Marquez, finding no credible evidence that Marquez intentionally thwarted Mercedes-Benz's efforts to provide a refund. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no credible evidence supported the jury's verdict, and therefore, the circuit court was not clearly wrong in directing the verdict in favor of Marquez. View "Marquez v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC" on Justia Law
MBS-Certified Pub. Accountants, LLC v. Wis. Bell Inc.
An accountant and the company he owned (collectively, MBS), filed suit against Defendants, telecommunications companies, asserting claims for damages under Wis. Stat. 100.207 and other statutes, arguing that Defendants' telephone bills contained unauthorized charges. The circuit court dismissed MBS's claims for relief, determining that although the complaint properly alleged violations of section 100.207, the voluntary payment doctrine barred any entitlement to monetary relief. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) the Supreme Court had not decided whether the legislature intended the voluntary payment doctrine to be a viable defense against any cause of action created by a statute; and (2) under the circumstances, the conflict between the manifest purpose of section 100.207 and the common law defense left no doubt that the legislature intended that the common law defense should not be applied to bar claims under the statute. Remanded. View "MBS-Certified Pub. Accountants, LLC v. Wis. Bell Inc." on Justia Law
Kilian v. Mercedes-Benz USA, L.L.C.
Steven Kilian leased a Mercedes-Benz vehicle with financing by Mercedes-Benz Financial. After the car required numerous repairs, Kilian returned the car to Mercedes-Benz USA and sought a refund under Wisconsin's Lemon Law. Mercedes-Benz USA accepted the returned vehicle and refunded $20,847 to Kilian. Because Mercedes-Benz USA did not immediately pay off the lease with Mercedes-Benz Financial, Mercedes-Benz Financial commenced collection actions to obtain payment from Kilian. Kilian filed suit under the Lemon Law to stop enforcement of the lease. While Kilian's action was pending in circuit court, Mercedes-Benz paid off the lease to Mercedes-Benz Financial. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Mercedes-Benz Financial, finding that Kilian did not suffer a pecuniary loss when Mercedes-Benz Financial continued to enforce the lease after the vehicle was returned. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Kilian could maintain an action for equitable relief under the Lemon Law and Mercedes-Benz Financial's actions violated the Lemon Law; and (2) Kilian prevailed in his action when Mercedes-Benz Financial voluntarily ceased enforcement of the lease after Kilian filed suit, and as the prevailing party, Kilian was entitled to attorney fees, disbursements, and costs. Remanded. View "Kilian v. Mercedes-Benz USA, L.L.C." on Justia Law