Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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Defendant condemned a pair of easements on the residential property of Plaintiffs to facilitate the placement of high-voltage transmission lines. Plaintiffs filed a right-to-take action, arguing that because the proposed easements would cover more than half of their property and render their residential improvements obsolete, they would be left with an "uneconomic remnant" under Wis. Stat. 32.06(3m). The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, concluding that Plaintiffs' property, after the taking of the easements, was an uneconomic remnant, and ordered Defendant to acquire the entire property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that after Defendant took two easements for transmission lines, Plaintiffs' property was an uneconomic remnant because its condition was such that it was of substantially impaired economic viability as either a residential or an industrial parcel. View "Waller v. Am. Transmission Co." on Justia Law

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The two plaintiffs in this case, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) and Associated Electric & Gas Insurance Services Limited (AEGIS), brought suit against the defendant, Arby Construction, Inc. (Arby), for indemnification of the damages that the plaintiffs paid in the settlement of a tort suit in federal court. The circuit court dismissed the AEGIS claim against Arby on the basis of claim preclusion. At issue on appeal was whether AEGIS raised, in the form of an affirmative defense, a cross-claim against Arby in the prior federal action and was therefore precluded from pursuing the same claim in this action because the claim was adjudicated in the federal judgment of dismissal. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals, which affirmed the circuit court, holding that AEGIS's claim was raised, in substance, in the prior federal action and was decided. Therefore, the claim was subject to claim preclusion and was properly dismissed by the circuit court. View "Wis. Pub. Serv. Corp. v. Arby Constr., Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) correctly concluded the Wisconsin Power and Light's (WPL) application to construct a large, out-of-state, electric generating facility was properly reviewed under Wis. Stat. 196.49(3), the certificate of authority (CA) statute, or whether Wis. Stat. 196.491(3), the certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) statute, should have been applied. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order, which affirmed the PSC's interim order, holding that the PSC's interpretation of the CPCN law as applying exclusively to in-state facilities and its decision to analyze WPL's application under the CA law were reasonable, and there was not a more reasonable interpretation of the CA and CPCN laws. View "Wis. Indus. Energy Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n" on Justia Law

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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