Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court

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The classification of real property for tax purposes is based on the actual use of the property, and an injunction prohibiting agricultural use of a residentially-zoned property, which is based on a restrictive covenant, does not control the property’s tax assessment classification. However, the record before the Board in this case contained no evidence that the property was used agriculturally within the meaning of Wisconsin tax law. Donald Thoma and Polk Properties LLC (collectively, Thoma) challenged the Village of Slinger’s 2014 property tax assessment for land Thoma attempted to develop into a residential subdivision. The property previously operated as a farm and received an agricultural classification for tax assessment purposes. Thoma and the Village later entered into an agreement that contained a restrictive covenant prohibiting Thoma from using the land for agriculture. The Village then obtained an injunction prohibiting any agricultural use on the property. The Board voted to uphold the assessor’s assessment, which the assessor reached by changing the use classification from agricultural to residential. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board’s decision upholding the tax assessment was lawful and supported by a reasonable view of the evidence; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Thoma’s request to vacate the original order. View "Thoma v. Village of Slinger" on Justia Law

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At issue in this foreclosure case was whether presentment by a party’s attorney of an original, wet-ink note endorsed in blank is admissible into evidence and enforceable against the borrower without further proof that the holder had possession at the time the foreclosure action was filed. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ summary disposition reversing the circuit court’s foreclosure judgment against Defendant in favor of Bank. Bank produced a note at trial, and the circuit court concluded it was the original note executed by the borrower. The court of appeals concluded that the issue of possession of the original note had to be proven at trial and that Bank was required to present testimony from a witness with personal knowledge who could verify possession of the note by Bank up to the moment Bank presented the note to the circuit court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that presentment to the trier of fact in a mortgage foreclosure proceeding of the original, wet-ink note endorsed in blank establishes the holder’s possession and entitles the holder to enforce the note. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Wuensch" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of Oshkosh in this action challenging the special assessment imposed by the City following the reconfiguration of a traditional traffic light intersection into a roundabout. The Court held (1) the term “special benefits” in Wisconsin’s eminent domain statute has the same meaning in Wisconsin’s special assessment statute, and the City’s admission that special benefits are non-existent in the context of an earlier eminent domain proceeding constitutes relevant evidence in a later challenge to the special assessment; and (2) the court of appeals erred in concluding that Plaintiff failed to overcome the presumption of correctness afforded the City’s special assessment and to establish sufficient genuine issues of material fact. The Court remanded the case to the circuit court for a trial. View "CED Properties, LLC v. City of Oshkosh" on Justia Law

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Wis. Stat. 846.165 does not require a circuit court to make a determination of a guaranty credit at the time a foreclosure sale is confirmed. Further, when an action for foreclosure against a mortgagor and an action for a money judgment on a guaranty are brought in the same proceeding, the circuit court may decide the amount of a credit to be applied to a judgment on a guaranty either at the time the sale is confirmed or at another time. Petitioner sought review of the court of appeals' decision directing that the circuit court apply a credit of $2.25 million to a money judgment entered against Petitioner as a guarantor of a loan. Petitioner argued that the court of appeals erroneously limited the credit to the amount of the winning bid at the sheriff’s sale, thus precluding the circuit court from hearing evidence of the fair value of the property after the confirmation of sale. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court properly decoupled the confirmation of sale from the determination of the guaranty credit; and (2) the stipulation in this case did not establish that the amount of the winning bid at the sheriff’s sale shall be the sole credit toward the money judgment against Petitioner. View "Horizon Bank, National Ass’n v. Marshalls Point Retreat LLC" 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 judgment entered in favor of Plaintiffs regarding their asserted right to install a pier and to access the Sailor Creek Flowage directly from their shoreline property. Defendants, who owned the waterbed of the Flowage where Plaintiffs’ property met the water, appealed, arguing that the presence of navigable water over their property did not affect their right to prohibit Plaintiffs from installing a pier into or over the portion of the waterbed of the Flowage that Plaintiffs owned. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiffs’ private property rights are not sufficient to place a pier into or over the waterbed of the Flowage without Defendants’ permission based on the rights attendant to their shoreline property; (2) the public trust doctrine conveys no private property rights, regardless of the presence of navigable water; and (3) as long as Plaintiffs are using the flowage waters for purposes consistent with the public trust doctrine, their own property rights are sufficient to access and exit the Flowage directly from their shoreline property. View "Movrich v. Lobermeier" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that the City of Milwaukee complied with Wis. Stat. 70.32(1) in its tax assessment of property owned by Metropolitan Associates. Also on appeal, Metropolitan asked the Supreme Court to substitute the court’s judgment for the circuit court’s judgment regarding the credibility of witnesses and the relative weights to assign to various pieces of evidence. The Supreme Court held (1) the City’s assessment of Metropolitan’s property complied with the statute; (2) the circuit court’s findings of fact regarding the reliability of respective appraisals were not clearly erroneous; and (3) the circuit court’s findings were sufficient to support its determination regardless of whether the presumption of correctness was employed. View "Metropolitan Associates v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law

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Applying Wis. Stat. 70.47(7)(aa) and Wis. Stat. 74.37(4)(a) in a manner that required submission to a tax assessor’s search as a precondition to challenging the revaluation of their property violated Plaintiffs’ due process rights. Plaintiffs brought this case claiming that the assessment of their real property was excessive and that sections 70.47(7)(aa) and 74.37(4)(a), as applied, were unconstitutional because they conditioned their right to challenge the assessor’s valuation of the property on submission to a search of the interior of their home. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Town. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that sections 70.47(7)(aa) and 73.37(4)(a) were unconstitutionally applied to Plaintiffs. View "Milewski v. Town of Dover" on Justia Law

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Appointing a registered agent under Wis. Stat. 180.1507 does not signify consent to general personal jurisdiction in Wisconsin. Plaintiffs filed this suit against Defendant, alleging that Defendant fraudulently misrepresented the quality of mortgages underlying certain securities. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Wisconsin courts could not exercise general jurisdiction over Defendant. The court of appeals reversed, holding that by maintaining a Wisconsin agent to receive service of process, Defendant subjected itself to the general jurisdiction of Wisconsin courts and actually consented to personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant’s compliance with section 180.1507 did not, on its own, confer general jurisdiction in Wisconsin. View "Segregated Account of Ambac Assurance Corp. v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law

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The circuit court affirmed the Trempealeau County Environment & Land Use Committee’s denial of a conditional use permit application for non-metallic mineral mining submitted by AllEnergy Corporation and allEnergy Silica, Arcadia, LLC (collectively, AllEnergy). The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Committee applied the factors and considerations set forth in the applicable ordinance and thus kept within its jurisdiction in denying AllEnergy’s application for a conditional use permit; (2) there is substantial evidence to support the Committee’s decision to deny AllEnergy a conditional use permit; and (3) this court does not adopt the new legal doctrine urged by AllEnergy that a conditional use permit applicant is entitled to the permit under certain conditions. View "AllEnergy Corp. v. Trempealeau County Environment & Land Use Committee" on Justia Law

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American Transmission Company and ATC Management, Inc. (collectively, ATC) filed a declaratory judgment action seeking an order from the court declaring that it had a right, under a 1969 easement, to enter the property of Ricardo and Julie Garza and trim and remove trees threatening or endangering the operation of a transmission line. The circuit court granted summary judgment for ATC, concluding (1) under the 1969 easement, ATC was allowed to remove the trees, and they did not trespass on the Garzas’ property in doing so; and (2) the 1969 easement was not invalidated when wood poles were replaced with steel poles. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that ATC had no rights to enter the Garzas’ property because the transmission line upon which the 1969 easement was founded no longer existed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the 1969 easement is still in effect, thereby allowing ATC to enter the Garzas’ property; and (2) the 1969 easement grants to ATC the right to make the change from wood poles to steel poles. View "American Transmission Co. v. Garza" on Justia Law