Justia Wisconsin Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
5 Walworth, LLC v. Engerman Contracting, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals in this insurance dispute over damages allegedly caused by the poor construction of an in-ground pool, holding that this Court overrules the portions of Wisconsin Pharmacy Co. v. Nebraska Cultures of California, Inc., 876 N.W.2d 72 (Wis. 2016), stating that "property damages" must be to "other property" for purposes of determining an initial grant of coverage in a commercial general liability (CGL) policy.Due to the damages caused by the cracking of Homeowner's pool, Homeowner was forced to demolish the entire pool structure and construct a new one. Two insurers on appeal had issued CGL policies to the pool's general contractor, and a third insurer issued a CGL policy to the supplier of the pump mix used for the pool's construction. All three insurers sought a declaration that their policies did not provide coverage to Homeowner. The Supreme Court held, under the circumstances of this case, that none of the insurers were entitled to summary judgment and accordingly remanded the cause back to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "5 Walworth, LLC v. Engerman Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law
Pagoudis v. Keidl
Pagoudis owns and is the sole member of both Sead LLC and Kearns LLC. During negotiations to purchase property from the Keidls, Pagoudis received a real estate condition report (RECR) signed by Amy Keidl. Pagoudis then signed the offer to purchase, which states that the contract is between the Keidls and Pagoudis "or assigns." Sead LLC then executed the negotiated contract and took title. Months later, Sead LLC assigned the property to Kearns LLC. After the purchase, defects were discovered that Keidl failed to disclose in the RECR, ranging from water and mildew in the basement, to insect infestations, to an unwanted piano.Pagoudis, Sead, and Kearns sued the Keidls for breach of contract, common law misrepresentation, and statutory misrepresentation. The circuit court dismissed the case, deciding that each of the parties lacked standing to pursue their stated claims; Pagoudis and Kearns were not parties to the original transaction and Sead transferred the property before filing the action and no longer has an interest in the property.The Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded that Pagoudis's and Kearns's claims against Keidl were properly dismissed. Sead's claims, however, were remanded, it was a party to the contract, received representations from the Keidls, and purchased the property. View "Pagoudis v. Keidl" on Justia Law
Milwaukee Police Supervisors Organization v. City of Milwaukee
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing in part the circuit court's decision granting summary judgment in favor of the Milwaukee Police Supervisors Organization (MPSO) and Milwaukee Professional Firefighters' Association Local 215 (Local 215) in this challenge to a shift in policy by the Milwaukee Employees' Retirement System (MERS), holding that the circuit court properly granted Local 215's motion for summary judgment.Under the Milwaukee City Charter, MERS must pay an eligible beneficiary for duty disability retirement (DDR) a percentage of the "current annual salary for such position which he held at the time of such injury." At issue in this case was the meaning of "current annual salary." In reversing the circuit court's grant of summary judgment to Local 215, the court of appeals concluded that DDR recipients cannot receive a pension offset payment. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the charter, read alongside the relevant collective bargaining agreement, requires MERS to include a 5.8 percent pension offset payment in the "current annual salary" used to calculate DDR benefits for beneficiaries hired before October 3, 2011. View "Milwaukee Police Supervisors Organization v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law
Casanova v. Polsky
In this dispute between the residents of a senior-living facility in a receivership over the proceeds generated by the sale of the facility the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the conclusion of the circuit court that Bondholders' mortgage lien was superior to Residents' entrance fee claims, holding that Bondholders' mortgage lien was superior to Residents' contract claims.After Atrium, the subject senior-living facility, defaulted on debt service payments to Bondholders, it filed a petition for receivership. The receiver sold the assets for more than $4 million in proceeds. Atrium owed Bondholders more than $6 million secured by a valid mortgage lien on the facility's estate, but many of the facility's Residents claimed they were owed reimbursement of the entrance fees they paid to Atrium. The circuit court entered judgment for Bondholders, and the court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Bondholders were entitled to first payment from the proceeds of the sale of Atrium's assets. View "Casanova v. Polsky" on Justia Law
Colectivo Coffee Roasters, Inc. v. Society Insurance
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying the motion to dismiss this complaint brought by Colectivo Coffee Roasters against Society Insurance, holding that the district court erred.Collective, which experienced substantial monetary losses as a result of the COVID-10 pandemic and related government restrictions on in-person dining, brought this class action complaint against Society seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and damages for breach of contract, alleging that Society was required to compensate it for the business income it lost during the pandemic. Society filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that none of the policy's coverage provisions applied. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Colectivo failed to state a claim for coverage under the Society policy's business income, extra expense, civil authority, or contamination provisions. View "Colectivo Coffee Roasters, Inc. v. Society Insurance" on Justia Law
Loren Imhoff Homebuilder, Inc. v. Taylor
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals that applied the doctrine of forfeiture as the basis for its reversal of the circuit court's vacatur of Loren Imhoff Homebuilder, Inc.'s arbitral award under Wis. Stat. 788.10(1), holding that remand was required.This case arose from a construction contract that Imhoff entered into with Homeowners for a remodeling project on Homeowners' home. Homeowners later asserted that Imhoff breach the construction contract. The parties proceeded to arbitration. Imhoff brought a motion to confirm the arbitral award. Homeowners moved to vacate the award based partly on the arbitrator's sleeping during arbitration, which Homeowners alleged was both misbehavior that resulted in prejudice and indicative of a flawed process. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Homeowners did not forfeit their objection to the arbitrator's sleeping; and (2) because this Court is divided on whether the arbitration award should be vacated pursuant to Wis. Stat. 788.10, remand was required for consideration of section 788.10 issues. View "Loren Imhoff Homebuilder, Inc. v. Taylor" on Justia Law
Country Visions Cooperative v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing in part the circuit court's determination that the price for certain property was $16.6 million and granting County Visions Cooperative fifteen days to exercise its right of first refusal at that price, holding that a circuit court may set an exercise price that exceeds the appraised value of the burdened property.The circuit court granted Country Visions specific performance of its right of first refusal to a property that Archer-Daniel-Midland Co. was attempting to sell. At issue was whether the circuit court correctly set the price at which Country Visions could exercise its right of first refusal. The court of appeals concluded that the circuit court did not err in how it determined the appropriate right of first refusal exercise price but remanded the case for a determination of whether the $16.6 million price included personal property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court properly considered the unique synergies that the property provided when it set the exercise price higher than the appraised value; but (2) remand was necessary to determine whether the $16.6 million exercise price included more than what was called for in the right of first refusal contract. View "Country Visions Cooperative v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co." on Justia Law
Mohns Inc. v. BMO Harris Bank National Ass’n
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order for judgment in favor of Mohns, Inc. and the award of compensatory damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment, as well as punitive damages, holding that the damages award must be set aside.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court properly exercised its discretion when it imposed judgment on liability as a sanction for the discovery violations of BMO Harris Bank National Association; (2) the damages award for unjust enrichment was in error because the law does not permit recovery of damages for both breach of contract and unjust enrichment arising from the same conduct; and (3) because punitive damages are recoverable only in tort the punitive damages award must be set aside because it was based upon an award of damages for the contract claims. The Court remanded the matter to the circuit court to modify the order for judgment. View "Mohns Inc. v. BMO Harris Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts
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
Rural Mutual Insurance Co. v. Lester Buildings, LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment dismissing Rural Mutual Insurance Company's subrogation claims pursuant to a subrogation waiver, holding that the subrogation waiver was valid and enforceable.Rural Mutual brought this action against Lester Buildings, LLC, Phoenix Insurance Company, Van Wyks, Inc., and West Bend Mutual Insurance Company after a barn collapsed due to strong winds and Rural Mutual paid more than $650,000 to the barn owner, Jim Herman, Inc. (Herman). The circuit court concluded that the claims were barred pursuant to a subrogation waiver contained in Lester Buildings' contract with Herman, Rural Mutual's insured, and further concluded that Wis. Stat. 895.447 did not void that subrogation waiver. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 895.447 did not void the subrogation waiver in the contract because the waiver did not limit or eliminate tort liability; and (2) the subrogation waiver was not an unenforceable exculpatory contract contrary to public policy. View "Rural Mutual Insurance Co. v. Lester Buildings, LLC" on Justia Law