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Nationwide, restaurants and bars felt financial strain over the past two years. With measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many food and beverage businesses were subject to restrictions on the use of their in-person dining rooms. In a recent case, the Wisconsin Supreme Court found that COVID-19 related business interruption losses were not recoverable under the insured’s property insurance policies. The Court found that COVID-19 restrictions were not direct physical losses, triggering a claim under a
Continue Reading Wisconsin Joins the Majority: Profit Losses Due to COVID-19 Not Insured

Over the last several years, the Wisconsin Legislature, in the wake of the 2018 Joint Legislative Council Study Committee on Child Placement and Support, several new legislative initiatives were introduced.  The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the passage of many of these bills, but several passed in the 2020-2021 Legislative Session.  Many of these statutes are procedures, codifying and streamlining practice for attorneys, litigants and the Courts, but many are also substantive law changes.  This is Part I of a three-part
Continue Reading Statutory Updates in Family Law, Part I

Public bodies deal with many of the same legal issues as private enterprises—plus a host of unique risks that arise because they are public actors. Public bodies therefore must take care to ensure that they are not violating the protected constitutional rights of their citizens, employees, contractors, or (in the case of schools) students. A new iteration of constitutional claims against public bodies arose in spring 2020, with colleges closing their campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while continuing
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Rejects Claim that University’s Refusal to Refund Fees During COVID Closures Amounts to Constitutional Violation

This month, the Court of Appeals affirmed a circuit court decision that held that the City of Brookfield engaged in an unconstitutional taking when it conditioned the approval of a subdivision development on construction of a new public street. The Court of Appeals determined that this “exaction” was not permissible because it did not address a need caused by the development proposal and, even if it did, the exaction was not proportional to the conditions sought to be addressed
Continue Reading Court of Appeals Determines City Development Condition Is Unconstitutional Taking

CAFA Background and Exceptions

On March 16, 2022, the Seventh Circuit issued its opinion in Schutte v. Coix Health, resolving an open question about the breadth of the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). 28 USC § 1711 et seq. Congress enacted CAFA in 2005 to expand the availability of federal courts to class action defendants; the Act loosens the requirements for defendants seeking to remove to federal court cases that have been filed in state court as putative class
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Resolves Open Question Under Class Action Fairness Act

Last summer, President Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14036 targeting “any unlawful trade practices in the beer, wine, and spirits markets, such as certain exclusionary, discriminatory, or anticompetitive distribution practices,” as well as “patterns of consolidation in production, distribution, or retail beer, wine, and spirits market.” The Executive Order required that the United States Department of Treasury submit a report assessing competitive conditions in the beer, wine, and spirits industry.

Last month, the Treasury Department published its Competition in
Continue Reading The Treasury Department’s Competition Report: What Wisconsin Wholesalers Need to Know

Last summer, President Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14036 targeting “any unlawful trade practices in the beer, wine, and spirits markets, such as certain exclusionary, discriminatory, or anticompetitive distribution practices,” as well as “patterns of consolidation in production, distribution, or retail beer, wine, and spirits market.” The Executive Order required that the United States Department of Treasury submit a report assessing competitive conditions in the beer, wine, and spirits industry.
Last month, the Treasury Department published its Competition in
Continue Reading What Wisconsin Wholesalers Need to Know about the Treasury Department’s Competition Report

The use of third-party food delivery services has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies such as Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash provide customers with greater access to their favorite restaurants without having to leave the comfort of their own homes. But the use of such delivery services has also caused troubles for customers and restaurants alike. Hidden fees, late or missing deliveries, and quality control problems are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to identifying these
Continue Reading Wisconsin Legislature Considers Bill to Regulate Third-Party Food Delivery Services

The League’s second challenge to unjust voter purges in Wisconsin seeks to reinstate voters before 2022 midterm elections.
Today, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, represented by Fair Elections Center, Law Forward Inc., and Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, filed suit in federal court to reinstate more than 31,000 registered Wisconsin voters who were purged from the voter rolls in July 2021. These voters were not provided notice of the potential deactivation or the deadline to take action to avoid
Continue Reading League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Files Lawsuit to Reactivate 31,854 Voters

Recently, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled in a case that tests the interaction between criminal law and civil liability. In Dostal v. Strands, 2020AP1943 (Oct. 19, 2021), the court held that an insured’s criminal conviction for second-degree reckless homicide precluded a mother’s claim against the insurer for damages arising from the death of her child.

The facts of this case are unquestionably tragic. Lindsey Dostal (“Dostal”) and Curtis Strand (“Strand”) were in a dating relationship for seventeen
Continue Reading Wisconsin Court of Appeals Rules that Reckless Homicide Cannot Constitute an Accident for Purpose of Insurance Coverage

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
Continue Reading Wisconsin Court of Appeals Rejects Attempted Underinsured Motorist Double Dip

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
Continue Reading Denial of Variance Request Regarding Lakefront Yard Setback Requirements

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
Continue Reading Supreme Court of Wisconsin Denies Legislative Redistricting Rulemaking Petition

Recently, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals touched on two important insurance issues: covered autos under Wis. Stat. § 632.32(3) and prejudgment interest under Wis. Stat. § 628.46(1).

In January 2016, Jason and Wendy Foerster’s thirteen-year-old son was directed by his uncle to drive a Chevrolet Tahoe to the child’s grandparents’ house to retrieve a piece of equipment. The Tahoe belonged to the child’s aunt and was covered under the aunt’s 1st Auto & Casualty Insurance Company motor vehicle policy.
Continue Reading Court of Appeals Holds that Prejudgment Interest Can Be Triggered without a Demand

In a straightforward interpretation and application of the Wisconsin Statutes and procedural standards governing writs of mandamus, on April 9, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in State of Wis. Ex rel. Timothy Zignego v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2021 WI 32, that the Wisconsin Elections Commission (“WEC”) was not obligated by Wisconsin Statutes Section 6.50(3) to conduct a massive deactivation of the registrations of nearly 230,000 Wisconsin voters, as three Wisconsin voters had alleged. Writing for the majority,
Continue Reading Wisconsin Supreme Court Holds that Wisconsin Elections Commission Is Not Obligated to Conduct Mass Deactivation of Voter Registrations

On March 25, 2021, Senators Sanders, Gillibrand, Reed, Van Hollen, and Whitehouse released a bill to the Senate that, if signed into law, will cause substantial changes to the Internal Revenue Code that pertain, among other things, to estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes.. A similar bill was read into the House by Representative Gomez. The bill, commonly known as “For the 99.5% Act” (the “Act”), was drafted with an effective date of January 1, 2022, but may be
Continue Reading Important Trusts and Estates Tax Changes Could Come in 2022