Government

At the close of summer, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals rejected an insurance company’s attempt to “double dip” and reduce its underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage responsibility to an insured based on a liability payment made to another insured.[1] The case arose from an automobile accident that caused the death of Michael Shimeta and serious injuries to his passenger, Terry Scheer. The responsible tortfeasor’s liability insurance policy provided for a $250,000 per-person limit and a $500,000 per-accident limit. Because the damages incurred by both Shimeta’s estate and by Scheer exceeded $250,000, both the Estate and Scheer received a $250,000 payment from…
This article was put together by Noah G. Buhle, a law clerk with our firm and a Senior at Marquette University Law School, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thanks for Noah’s great effort and nice summary! Biden Tax Plan and Ramifications President Joe Biden, in his campaign and in several speeches after being inaugurated, has stated his intent to change the tax code. One common theme of his statements has been that the average lower and middle class American will not see any increase in taxes, with taxes only being increased for those who earn more than $400,000 per year. But the…
On September 9, 2021, Dane County issued Face Covering Emergency Order #2 (“Order #2”) which is scheduled to go into effect on September 10, 2021 at 12:01am, directly following Face Covering Emergency Order (“Order #1”) scheduled to expire on September 16, 2021 at 12:01am.   What’s with the time overlap?   The overlap in time isn’t directly addressed. A general principle of law requires that where two bodies of law are in conflict, the more restrictive would govern, which would be Order #1 considering it has less exceptions to the mask mandate. So, this would be for the September 10…
Cox v. City of Madison Zoning Board of Appeals, Appeal No. 2020AP478 (July 8, 2021) Kathleen Cox purchased property on Lake Mendota with the plan to demolish and rebuild the existing house and wet boathouse. A wet boathouse is one that is built over excavated shoreline with the lake water underneath, into which a boat can directly navigate. Cox learned after rebuilding the wet boathouse and completing design plans for the home that a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) regulation required her to measure the setback from the indented shoreline created by her wet boathouse rather than the natural…
The Supreme Court issued a new opinion on August 26, 2021 which will perhaps be an end to the ongoing dispute over the legality of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (the “CDC”) eviction moratorium (the “moratorium”). A deeper dive into the terms of the moratorium and an analysis of the procedural posture as of the most recent renewal of the moratorium can be found in a prior KEW Tip, but a bit of context is provided as a jumping off point here.   The CDC issued a renewal of the moratorium in this past Spring to expire…
Public Health of Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) announced a new, county-wide mask mandate on August 17, 2021 to go into effect on August 19, 2021. Citing evidence that fully vaccinated people can still transmit the Delta variant of COVID-19 to others, PHMDC noted that countywide 7-day case average has risen from 19 on July 19, 2021 to 91.6 on August 12, 2021, an increase of 382%. The text of the order can be found here.   2 and up – Mask up   PHMDC is, with some exception, requiring all individuals 2 years old and older to wear…
On August 3, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) announced another extension of its eviction Moratorium (“the Moratorium”). This article compares and contrasts the new Moratorium with previous iterations. What has Changed? The new Moratorium applies on a somewhat more restricted basis, at least in theory. Instead of applying in any state or territory in which there are documented cases of COVID-19, as in the previous versions of the Moratorium, the new order only applies in U.S. counties experiencing “substantial” and ”high” levels of COVID community transmission as defined by the CDC. Individuals can check the current…
As employers nationwide have begun to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirements in the workplace, legal questions have been presented as to whether these vaccine requirements are legally permissible under various laws. While the EEOC has issued guidance that generally permits mandatory vaccine requirements in the workplace so long as reasonable accommodations are offered for those with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs, questions still remained as to whether mandatory workplace vaccine requirements were permissible under other laws, such as the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), given the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) process. DOJ’s July 6, 2021, Memorandum Opinion now…
For many of us working in the public interest law field or taking cases for reduced pay, hearing the question “Should I hire a ‘real’ attorney?” is common. It can also be infuriating and disheartening. However, by understanding the reasoning behind the question and how to answer it, the question can not only help your own mental health as the attorney, but also strengthen trust with the client and build a good relationship. Aside from Frank Abagnale, nobody likes to hear that they are not viewed as a “real” attorney or less than anybody else. However, the harsh reality…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on June 24 that it is extending its order, Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, set to expire on June 30, until July 31. In issuing this extension, the CDC indicated that this is intended to be the final extension. The content of the moratorium remains the same as the that of the previous extension, in March of 2021. As a reminder, you can review our KEW Tip on that extension here. Landlords should remember that valid declaration forms provided by tenants in the…
Let’s start with some background on unemployment insurance in Wisconsin. This article focuses on unemployment insurance from an employer’s perspective and specifically under Wisconsin state law. As such, we are not discussing the expanded unemployment provisions in the CARES Act, which primarily impact separated employees applying for unemployment benefits under more broad eligibility criteria. As the CARES Act provisions are federally funded, they have minimal impact on employers. In our experience, employers are not even notified as a party when a separated employee applies for benefits under the CARES Act provisions. Anyone curious about the CARES Act’s specifics is invited…
As the weather becomes warmer, many of us will enjoy the use of Wisconsin’s navigable waters. Wisconsin has approximately 15,000 lakes and 33,000 miles of rivers and streams.1 Wisconsin’s Public Trust Doctrine applies to surface waters of the state. The doctrine is expressed in the Wisconsin Constitution, Article IX, section 1, yet is more clearly summarized in the Wisconsin Supreme Court case Illinois Steel Co. v. Bilot:2 The title to the beds of all lakes and ponds, and of rivers navigable in fact as well, up to the line of ordinary high-water mark, within the boundaries of the…
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin recently denied a petition submitted by former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (“WILL”), proposing new procedural rules limited solely to legal challenges to new legislative districts, including requiring such challenges to be brought solely to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Stafford Rosenbaum Attorneys Doug Poland, Jeff Mandell, and Rick Manthe submitted an extensive written comment arguing against the proposed rule on behalf of non-partisan, non-profit Law Forward. The genesis of Jensen’s effort to convince the Court to adopt rules governing redistricting litigation reaches back to the…
On May 18, Public Health of Madison and Dane County (“PHMDC”) announced the next steps in response to COVID, largely in light of the CDC’s recent update on May 13 that fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks or physical distance in any setting (see here for more information from the CDC). As we discussed in a recent KEW Tip, Dane County is currently subject to Emergency Order #16, which will be effective until June 2.   PHMDC stated on May 18 that, come June 2, it will lift all Dane County Orders. This applies to any…
Whether an individual worker can or should be classified as an employee or independent contractor is a crucial question that every employer needs to answer before bringing on a worker. This article is focused on issues facing Wisconsin employers. This article is broken down into two sections: FAQs Tests which include both Wisconsin and Federal As an initial matter, note that this article uses the word “worker” when referring to an individual who could be either an employee or an independent contractor, for the purpose of working through the relevant tests.  All employees are workers, but not all workers are…
The core benefit of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) – tax-free forgiveness after 120 qualifying payments with a qualifying employer – is well and widely known. Because of the tax-free forgiveness, PSLF borrowers are incentivized to maximize the amount of their forgiveness by minimizing the dollar amount of their qualifying monthly payments. In other words, because PSLF is tax-free, the borrower is not penalized by a loan balance that grows each month.1 One of the ways a borrower can lower their monthly payment is reducing their adjusted gross income (AGI) by making contributions to their retirement plan.2 Enrollment…