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The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently found that a continuing trespass does not create a new “event” each day that it remains on the property.  See Ebert v. Village of Gresham, 2020 WL 6278316, ¶¶ 2, 13.  Because a new event is not created each day, a claimant must file a notice of injury within 120 days after the happening of the event giving rise to the claim pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 893.80.  Id.  The court also held that only special circumstances like those in Gillen v. City of Neenah, where a specific statute conflicted with the…
A property owner, Timothy Casa De Calvo, sued the Town of Hudson claiming that he adversely possessed real property adjacent to his house. The property in question had been dedicated about 31 years before as a street on a subdivision plat. The Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town, and the court of appeals affirmed the judgment. Casa De Calvo v. Town of Hudson, No. 2019AP1851 (Wis. Ct. App. Sept. 9, 2020). The Court of Appeals explained that the property in question could not be adversely possessed because under Wis. Stat. § 893.29(2)(c) (1987-88)[1] it…
A power of attorney is a document that allows someone to appoint an agent to act on their behalf in the event that they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on their own. These documents relate to financial and healthcare matters. One of the greatest benefits of a power of attorney is that it allows the agent to act quickly in a crisis. Having your college-age children sign a power of attorney for healthcare and finances is a simple way to prepare for an emergency. During the particularly grim months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are so often reminded…
In Milwaukee Block 10 Properties v. City of Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reaffirmed two key principles in its reversal of a circuit court decision which ordered the City of Milwaukee to revise its property tax assessment for the Aloft Hotel. First, Wisconsin affords substantial deference to property tax assessments prepared by municipalities. Property assessments enjoy a presumption of correctness which can rebutted only if the challenging party can present significant contrary evidence or is able to demonstrate that the municipality failed to apply the principles of the Property Assessment Case Manual.[1] Second, when a stream of…
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently held that Wisconsin law precludes enforcement of a provision in an insurance policy that purported to limit underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage to only those insureds who sustain bodily injury or death. Ryan Johnson died from injuries sustained in a collision involving an underinsured vehicle. Johnson’s minor son, Elliot Brey, filed a claim against State Farm—his mother’s automobile insurance carrier—seeking to recover damages resulting from his father’s wrongful death. State Farm refused to compensate Elliot, relying on a clause in the policy’s UIM provision that limited damages to bodily injury suffered by an insured. State…
Title VII is the portion of the federal Civil Rights Act that prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It was first adopted by Congress in 1964. Last week, in a 6-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted Title VII to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status. The Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 U.S. (2020), consolidated three decisions from different federal Courts of Appeals involving claims brought by employees fired either because of sexual orientation or transgender status. The Court’s analysis began with…
Last week Governor Evers announced a $200 million program for local leaders entitled “Routes to Recovery: Local Government Aid Grants.” The program intends to address Wisconsin communities’ urgent and unique situations surrounding COVID-19 recovery. Funded by federal CARES Act dollars, these grants are in addition to the $1 billion in state-wide COVID-19 related aid that includes free test kits, personal protective equipment, contact tracing, public testing sites and other resources. Routes to Recovery grants will be allocated by the Wisconsin Department of Administration. Of the $200 million, $10 million will be directed to Wisconsin’s tribal nations, and the remainder will…
Recently the Court of Appeals released an opinion holding that municipal pier regulations enacted pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 30.13(2) cannot be applied to a pier that qualifies for a state permit exemption under Wis. Stat. § 30.12(1g)(f).  As a result, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision in order to rule in favor of the pier owner.  In this case, the pier owner was represented by Stafford in conjunction with Attorney Adam Jarchow of Jarchow Law, LLC. The case arose when Sunflower Properties (“Sunflower”) built a pier on Tomahawk Lake in 2015, after consultation with the County. …
The Seventh Circuit has weighed in on the highly publicized advertising dispute between beer giants Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch.  See Molson Coors Beverage Company v. Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC, Nos. 19-2200, 19-2713, 19-2782, 19-3097 & 19-3116 (7th Cir. May 1, 2020). In early 2019, Anheuser-Busch began advertising that Miller Lite and Coors Light use corn syrup as a source of sugar that yeast ferments into alcohol, whereas Bud Light uses rice.  Molson Coors (then MillerCoors) claimed the ads created the false impression that its beers actually contain corn syrup.  As a result, Molson Coors brought suit in federal district court…
On May 1, 2020, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul reversed his predecessor’s opinion prohibiting the Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) from considering the cumulative impacts of high capacity wells[1] on waters of the state.  The events leading up to this reversal are critical to understanding the current and future effects of this new Attorney General Opinion. Wisconsin’s Constitution mandates that the state has jurisdiction over all navigable waters in the state and that navigable waters shall be “forever free.”  Wis. Const. Art. 9 § 1.  Courts applying this constitutional principle have imposed upon the state an affirmative duty to…
State and local governments have a variety of powers. They can take private property for public use, but they have to fairly compensate the property owner. They can also use their police power—a broad array of authority to protect public health and safety—to regulate the use of property. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals’ recent decision in United America v. Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 2018AP2383 (Wis. Ct. App. April 28, 2020), illustrates the limited damages available to property owners when governments exercise police powers. The state, local governments, and certain corporate entities may use eminent domain (also known as condemnation)…
The scope of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) expanded under the Supreme Court’s ruling in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, 590 U.S. ___ (2020). The Court found that the CWA requirement for a permit prior to discharging a pollutant to navigable water could apply to pollutant discharges to groundwater that subsequently travel to navigable waters. The CWA forbids the addition of any pollutant from a point source to navigable waters without the requisite permit.   The County of Maui operates a wastewater treatment facility (“Facility”).  The Facility collects sewage, treats it, and then pumps the effluent into groundwater…