May 26, 2015 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has added seven new cases to its docket, including one to examine whether a party is entitled to judgment interest at the rate in effect when a judgment was entered, or at the time a settlement offer was made.
In 2008, Robert Johnson agreed to accept $300,000 in an offer of settlement related to a car accident in which he was a passenger. The case did not settle and in 2013, a jury awarded Johnson $400,000. The parties disputed how much judgment interest applied.
When Johnson made his offer of settlement in 2008, Wis. Stat. section 807.01(4) allowed a party to receive 12 percent interest from the date the offer of settlement was made, if the party recovered a judgment greater than the offer of settlement amount.
By the time Johnson obtained the judgment in 2013, though, the law had changed. Parties who recovered more than the offer of settlement could get interest, from the date the offer, at 1 percent plus the prime rate in effect at the time of the judgment.
The circuit court awarded interest under the new law, which was 4.25 percent at that time. Johnson appealed, arguing that he was entitled to the 12 percent interest.
The court of appeals ruled in favor of Johnson, concluding that Johnson was entitled to the 12 percent interest, since that rate applied when he made the offer of settlement. Cintas appealed, arguing that the law in effect on the date of judgment applied.
The supreme court, in Johnson v. Cintas Corp. No. 2, is expected to decide whether retroactive application of the new judgment interest law is unconstitutional. The following is a brief summary of the other six cases that were accepted for review.
WI Pharmacal Co. v. Nebraska Cultures of CA
This insurance case arises out of claims that Nebraska Cultures of California Inc. supplied the Wisconsin Pharmacal Company LLC an incorrect ingredient for incorporation into a dietary supplement to be labeled and sold by a major retailer.
A three-judge appeals court panel ruled (2-1) that “property damage” occurred, for insurance purposes, when the wrong ingredient was integrated with other materials in the processing of a probiotic health supplement, rendering the pills unusable.
State v. Matalonis
This case examines whether a police search of the defendant’s home was justified under one of two exceptions – community caretaker and protective sweep – to the general rule that warrantless searches and seizures violate the Fourth Amendment.
Police in Kenosha conducted a warrantless search behind a locked door that had blood on it, believing additional persons may have been injured in a battery that occurred at the home. Police found a large marijuana plant growing inside the locked room.
New Richmond News v. City of New Richmond
This open records case involves a dispute between the New Richmond News and the city of New Richmond over redacted information in police reports.
The New Richmond Police Department had sent the newspaper copies of police reports relating to car accidents and theft of gasoline, but redacted names and addresses of drivers, car owners, and witnesses.
The department said redaction was required under the federal Driver’s Privacy and Protection Act (DPPA), which protects motor vehicle records. The circuit court ruled that state public records law trumped the DPPA. Both the newspaper and the city jointly petitioned to bypass the appeals court for Wisconsin Supreme Court review.
St. Croix Co. DHHS v. Michael D.
This case involves the interpretation of a prior supreme court decision and the interplay of the child in need of protection or services (CHIPS) and termination of parental rights (TPR) notice requirements necessary to properly pursue a TPR proceeding.
In 2009, a minor was removed from his mother’s home. In 2011, the court issued an order for return if specific conditions were met. The order included a “Notice Concerning Grounds to Terminate Parental Rights,” a written warning that the mother signed. The notice stated that the court had given oral warnings about possible termination.
The county later moved for termination of parental rights and the court issued multiple orders after multiple hearings in the CHIPS and TPR proceedings. After her parental rights were permanently terminated, the mother argued that a proper warning of termination had not been provided to her, as required by Wis. Stat. section 48.356.
Ultimately, an appeals court ruled that the mother had not received a sufficient notice to inform her that her parental rights could be terminated. A decision by the supreme court is expected to clarify whether there’s a categorical requirement that the last court order prior to termination of parental rights contain the necessary notice requirements.
Winnebago Co. v. Christopher S.
This certification examines whether Wis. Stat. section 51.20(1)(ar) is facially unconstitutional on substantive due process grounds because it does not require that a court find an inmate dangerous prior to ordering the inmate civilly committed for treatment and involuntary medication. The appeals court certified the case.
United Food v. Hormel Corp.
This case examines whether Wisconsin law requires that workers be paid for the time it takes to put on and take off gear and clothing required for work. About 330 hourly union workers and former workers at Hormel Corp. in Beloit filed the class action lawsuit.
Summaries derived from full summaries on the Wisconsin Court System website.