Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
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In this case involving the Town of Perry's alleged failure to construct a proper road as promised when exercising its power of eminent domain the Supreme Court held that Wis. Stat. 82.50(1) does not impose obligations on the Town that are susceptible to a declaration of rights, nor does it create a private cause of action by which Plaintiff can recover damages under the circumstances. The Town acquired a portion of property belonging to Plaintiff. In exercising it power of eminent domain, the Town committed itself to building a replacement road over part of the acquired property. The Town later brought this action alleging that the Town failed to build the road to the standards required by either the condemnation petition or Wis. Stat. 82.50(1). The circuit court concluded that claim preclusion barred Plaintiff's claim. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court revered, holding (1) neither the right-to-take case nor the just compensation case barred Plaintiff's claims; and (2) section 82.50(1) does not impose road-building obligations on the Town that are susceptible to a declaration of rights, nor does it create a private cause of action by which Plaintiff can recover damages for the Town's failure to improve the road. View "DSG Evergreen Family Limited Partnership v. Town of Perry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court concluding that an annexation of 247 acres of land to the City of Sheboygan satisfied the statutory contingency requirement, the rule of reason, and the procedural requirements of Wis. Stat. 66.0217, holding that the circuit court did not err or abuse its discretion. This appeal concerned J. Kohler Company's plan to convert 247 acres of land located in the Town of Wilson into a golf course. Kohler petitioned for annexation to the City of Sheboygan, determining that the golf course would not be developed if the land remained in the boundaries of the Town. In response, the Town filed this declaratory judgment action challenging the annexation. The circuit court dismissed the action in full. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the annexation met the statutory contiguity requirement in Wis. Stat. 66.0217(3); (2) the annexation satisfied the rule of reason; and (3) the petition complied with the signature and certification requirements set forth in Wis. Stat. 66.0218(3) and (5)(a). View "Town of Wilson v. City of Sheboygan" on Justia Law

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In this case involving a stolen 1938 Talbot Lago automobile the Supreme Court held that a true owner can maintain a replevin action for wrongful detention against a subsequent purchaser of converted property and that a cause of action for replevin based on wrongful detention accrues when the subsequent purchaser obtains the property. In 2001, the Talbot Lago disappeared from a Milwaukee business. In 2015, TL90108, LLC (TL) purchased the vehicle in Europe. In 2018, TL attempted to obtain title in Illinois. When a hit on a stolen vehicle report was triggered, Plaintiffs, who claimed to be the rightful owners, demanded the vehicle's return. TL refused, and Plaintiffs brought an action in replevin. The circuit court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the claim was barred by the six-year statutes of repose in Wis. Stat. 893.35 and 893.51(1). The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the wrongful detention claim was triggered when Plaintiffs demanded a return of the vehicle, thus restarting the six-year repose clock. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the replevin action based on TL's alleged wrongful detention of the Talbot Lago accrued when TL obtained - and wrongfully detained - the vehicle, and therefore, Plaintiffs' cause of action for replevin was not barred by the applicable statutes of repose. View "Mueller v. TL90108, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's grant of summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff's claims against the Village of Stetsonville for negligence and private nuisance after wastewater backed up into Plaintiff's basement, holding that the Village was immune from suit for negligence and that, as to Plaintiff's private nuisance claim, no genuine issue of material fact existed as to causation. Specifically, the Court held (1) the court of appeals did not err in determining that the Village was immune from suit for negligence pursuant to Wis. Stat. 893.80(4); and (2) under the facts of this case, the court of appeals did not err in affirming the grant of summary judgment on the private nuisance claim on the grounds that Plaintiff did not present expert testimony with regard to causation. View "Pinter v. Village of Stetsonville" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's denial of the Town of Rib Mountain's action seeking a declaration that Marathon County lacked the authority to establish a rural naming or numbering system in towns, holding that Wis. Stat. 59.54(4) does not restrict a county's authority to "establish a rural naming or numbering system in towns" to only rural areas within towns. In 2016, Marathon County decided to establish a uniform naming and numbering system. The Town of Rib Mountain was one of the towns required to participate in the addressing system. The Town filed this action for declaratory relief alleging that the statute confines counties to implementing naming and numbering systems only within "rural" areas of towns. The circuit court denied relief. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the use of the word "rural" unambiguously demonstrated that the legislature intended to restrict a county's naming and numbering authority to "rural" areas. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the statutory text provides that a county may establish a rural naming or numbering system "in towns"; and (2) accordingly, Marathon County acted within its authority by enacting an ordinance to create a uniform naming and numbering system in towns throughout Marathon County. View "Town of Rib Mountain v. Marathon County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals upholding the circuit court's dismissal of Petitioner's inverse condemnation claim against Respondent based on Petitioner's noncompliance with Wis. Stat. 893.80(1d), the notice of claim statute, holding that because the Respondent failed to raise noncompliance with the statute in a responsive pleading, Respondent waived this affirmative defense. Petitioner initiated this action bringing two causes of action against Respondent, one for inverse condemnation and the other for unlawful sanitary sewer charges and levy of taxation. Respondent filed an answer and a counterclaim but did not affirmatively plead that Petitioner had failed to comply with section 893.80(1d). The circuit court dismissed the inverse condemnation claim, concluding that Petitioner had failed to comply with the notice of claim statute. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) noncompliance with the notice of claim statute is an affirmative defense that must be set forth in a responsive pleading; and (2) Respondent waived the defense because it failed to set forth the defense in its answer and did not amend its answer to include the defense. View "Maple Grove Country Club Inc. v. Maple Grove Estates Sanitary District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's orders granting the City of Whitehalls' motion to dismiss the Town of Lincoln's action challenging the City's annexation of a portion of the Town, holding that the court of appeals erred in limiting the grounds on which the Town may challenge the annexation. On appeal, the Town argued that the decision of the court of appeals was based on the erroneous classification of the petition as one for direct annexation by unanimous approval even though the annexation petition lacked the required signatures of all landowners. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the annexation petition was not a petition for direct annexation by unanimous approval; and (2) because the limitations on annexation challenges set forth in Wis. Stat. 66.0217(11)(c) pertain only to petitions for direct annexation by unanimous approval, those limitations did not apply in this case. View "Town of Lincoln v. City of Whitehall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court sustaining the the Board of Review for the Town of Delafield’s reclassification of two lots of land owned by Appellants from “agricultural land” to “residential”, holding that the two lots at issue were entitled to be classified as agricultural land as a matter of law. In reversing the circuit court, the court of appeals determined that a business purpose was not necessary for land to be classified as agricultural land for property tax purposes and that the assessor’s determination of the appropriate classification was driven by his erroneous understand of the law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a business purpose is not required for land to be classified as agricultural land for property tax purposes; and (2) the two lots at issue were entitled to be classified as agricultural land. View "Peter Ogden Family Trust of 2008 v. Board of Review for the Town of Delafield" on Justia Law

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In this longstanding dispute over which adjoining landowner must pay to construct and maintain partition fencing between their properties the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that the City of Watertown is responsible for conducting a statutorily-prescribed procedure for resolving fence-related disputes. Wis. Stat. 90.03 assigns responsibility for partition fences to all adjoining property owners. Chapter 90 contains a detailed procedure for quantifying costs and allocating them amongst the adjoining owners (the Enforcement Procedures). Plaintiffs brought this complaint against the City asserting that Chapter 90 authorizes cities to engage Chapter 90’s Enforcement Procedures to determine and locate the cost of constructing and maintaining the fencing. The circuit court granted declaratory relief for Plaintiffs. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Chapter 90 unambiguously authorizes cities to administer the Enforcement Procedures. View "White v. City of Watertown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s order dismissing Petitioner’s complaint against the Village of Sister Bay alleging that some summer concerts held in a public park were a public and private nuisance, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in failing to view each concert as a new nuisance prompting a new notice of injury period; but (2) Petitioner’s written notice of injury was not timely filed. On appeal, Petitioner asserted that it should not be barred from bringing future nuisance actions against the Village because it failed to complain within 120 days as required by Wis. Stat. 898.80(1d)(a) about a noise nuisance from the date the first concert was held in 2014. The Supreme Court held (1) contrary to the decision of the court of appeals, each concert alleged to be a nuisance constitutes a separate event for purposes of filing a written notice of injury; but (2) Petitioner’s written notice of injury, which was not served within 120 days after the date of the last concert alleged to be a nuisance, was not timely filed. View "Yacht Club at Sister Bay Condominium Ass’n, Inc. v. Village of Sister Bay" on Justia Law