Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court’s small claims money judgment for the Estate of Stanley G. Miller against Diane Storey. In the small claims action, a jury found Story liable for theft of money from her uncle when she cared for him in the last year of his life. The circuit court awarded the Estate actual damages of $10,000 under Wis. Stat. 799.01(1)(d), exemplary damages of $20,000 under section 895.446(3)(c), attorney fees of $20,000 under section 895.446(3)(b), and double taxable costs under section 807.01(3). The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court held (1) section 3895.446 is an “other civil action,” and therefore, the damages cap is $10,000 under section 799.01(1)(d), and double costs are authorized under section 807.01(3); (2) attorney fees are included within the meaning of “costs of investigation and litigation” under section 895.446(3)(b); and (3) as to exemplary damages, the court of appeals properly reversed the circuit court because the circuit court’s ruling was contrary to the clear legal standard set forth in Kimble v. Land Concepts, Inc., 845 N.W.2d 395. View "Estate of Miller v. Storey" on Justia Law

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Joseph McLeod, Decedent's husband, filed a petition for formal administration of Decedent's estate and his appointment as personal representative. McLeod also asserted his right to a share of Decedent's estate. Patricia Mudlaff, Decedent's stepdaughter, also filed a petition for formal administrative and appointment as personal representative, contending that Decedent's marriage to McLeod was invalid because Decedent lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage and requesting that the circuit court declare Decedent's marriage void. The circuit court rejected Mudlaff's argument, concluding that annulment was the only method to void a marriage and that Wisconsin law prohibits annulment after the death of one of the parties to the marriage. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) annulment is not the exclusive remedy to challenge the validity of a marriage; and (2) in an estate action challenging a marriage, a court may use its declaratory judgment powers to declare that a marriage prohibited by law was void and incapable of validation by the parties to the marriage. Remanded. View "Mudlaff v. McLeod" on Justia Law