Wisconsin Legal Case Summaries

Please review a small sampling of case summaries from the types of legal matters we have assisted our clients with in Wisconsin. While we cannot guarantee results, we can guarantee we will be zealous advocates for you in your case.

Business Litigation

Professional Services Dispute. We represented an engineering firm suing for payment of outstanding fees on a train refurbishment project.

Outcome: After a jury trial with competing expert witnesses the jury awarded full damages in excess of $350,000 to our client for services rendered.

Construction Dispute. We represented the property owner around a dispute related to landscaping services provided and statutory violations of Wisconsin’s Home Improvement Act.

Outcome: After a jury trial with expert testimony the jury awarded full damages and attorneys’ fees for a total judgment in excess of $200,000 to our client.

Collection on promissory note.  We represented the holder of a promissory note and security agreement in a breach of contract claim.

Outcome: a judgment was obtained in Washington County for $690,000, and the Court has since granted execution on the assets of the defendant to partially satisfy that judgment.

Theft of trade secrets; tortious interference with contract.  Client was dealing with an employee it believed was stealing trade secrets and tortiously interfering with contractual relationships. Another company had allegedly been paying an employee of the client to divert business contacts and sales away from his employer and to the other company.

Outcome:  successful negotiation of a settlement with instigation of non-compete agreement.

Default judgment re-opened.  An out-of-state company needed representation in a breach of contract case.  The client had failed to timely answer a lawsuit and as a result had a default judgment for over $1 million issued against it.  We argued that the case should be re-opened and the judgment set aside, on the grounds of extraordinary circumstances and the existence in the contract of an arbitration clause.

Outcome:  Judgment was set aside and the case was ordered to arbitration, under Wis. Stat. 788.03. The circuit court’s decision was upheld upon appeal.

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Criminal Law

Attempted Murder. Defendant was charged with firing a sawed off shotgun at the victim from point blank range. The victim was shot in the leg and crippled. The issue in the case was identification. A close reading of the discovery suggested the existence of more police reports. A motion to produce resulted in the disclosure of several confidential informants and identification procedures, some of which excluded the defendant. Further, investigation of an important state witness revealed that she had just been charged in another county with stabbing an individual and had a lengthy prior record. When this information was ultimately assembled, it raised serious doubts about the accuracy of the identification and the guilt of the defendant.

Outcome: Case dismissed on State’s motion.

First Degree Intentional Homicide. Victim’s throat was slashed on a street corner. He suffered a laceration of the left internal jugular vein and a partial laceration of the common carotid artery. The victim had walked out on the defendant, his girlfriend, at a tavern that evening and had identified the defendant as his assailant. Identification was the issue. An alibi defense was presented along with expert testimony relating to the effects of blood alcohol on perception, memory, and recall.

Outcome: Hung jury (8 to 4 for acquittal); case dismissed on State’s motion.

First Degree Intentional Homicide. Defendant, a landlord, was charged in the shooting death of a tenant when he went to collect rent. The tenant was several months behind. An argument ensued and the defendant’s gun ultimately fell to the ground during the course of the struggle. Both parties went after the gun and the victim was subsequently shot and killed. A view of this scene soon after taking the case disclosed important evidence, which was presented at the preliminary hearing. The court ordered briefing and dismissed the case.

Outcome: Case dismissed by preliminary hearing judge.

Homicide/ Self-Defense: Defendant, an elderly gentleman, was being harassed by two young men who eventually chased him. The defendant shot both of them, killing one and wounding the other. My investigation developed a self-defense argument, prompting the prosecutor to reduce the charges to homicide by negligent use of a weapon and injury by negligent use of a weapon; two two-year felonies, which represented a reduction from life plus 20 years. The assistant district attorney indicated as part of the plea bargain that he would recommend two years in the House of Correction (as opposed to prison) on the homicide and consecutive probation on the other count. However, he indicated that if, after listening to my argument, he was convinced that probation was appropriate, he would make that recommendation. After a lengthy sentencing argument, the assistant district attorney changed his recommendation, urging the court to place the defendant on straight probation.

Outcome: Defendant received two years in the House of Correction, which he modified to straight probation following a hearing on a motion to modify sentence.

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Family Law

Spousal Support. Husband (client), after a 20 year marriage, was not opposed to a fair property division, but did not feel it was fair to have to pay spousal support.

Outcome: The Case went to trial and the Court entered an order with an appropriate property division but denied wife’s request for spousal support.

Maintenance. Successfully argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court enforcement of divorcing parties’ agreement not to modify maintenance payments, when the former wife sought an increase in support. In re the Marriage of Nichols, 162 Wis. 2d 96 (1991). Case is cited as prominent authority today.

Relocation. Mother (client) sought to move with two minor daughters to Nashville. We argued to the court that the children’s best interests lay in moving with their mother, even though they would be geographically distanced from their father in Milwaukee.

Outcome: The Court granted our clients request and we prevailed over father’s objections.

Acquisition of Enhanced Earnings. Successfully represented husband before the Waukesha County Circuit Court and Court of Appeals in his claim for compensation for the wife’s acquisition of advanced educational degrees during the marriage. Husband awarded money for the value of the wife’s degrees obtained during the marriage; wife was assigned her student loans as non-marital property; court imputed six figure income to the wife, based upon the advanced degrees, which negated any child support the husband would owe her. In re the Marriage of Weiler v. Boerner, 280 Wis. 2d 519 (Ct. App. 2005).

Contempt. Our client sought an order for contempt because the other party had failed to pay medical expenses for the minor children.

Outcome: The Court required the other party to pay thousands of dollars in unpaid medical expenses and an award for attorneys’ fees.

Collaborative Divorce: A couple were getting divorced; they needed to change their relationship from spouses to co-parents for the benefit of their two young children, one with special needs.

Outcome: As part of a team, we successfully worked out an agreement that met the needs of their children and both parties and preserved the child’s needed medical and financial benefits without the court being involved.

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Insurance Defense

Rear end accident. We represented a young driver and her insurer.  The plaintiff claimed the rear end accident caused a rotator-cuff tear and called three Doctors to testify on her behalf, none of whom were able to offer testimony as to a mechanism of injury on cross examination.  We retained a bio-medical engineer who testified that the accident would not have caused the rotator-cuff tear the plaintiff complained of.

Outcome: The plaintiff’s attorney asked the Jury to award in excess of $200,000.00; the jury awarded no damages.

Frivolous suit. Plaintiff’s counsel had filed a lawsuit alleging liability on the part of client (the insurance company). We believed the case against our client to be frivolous and thus sent opposing counsel a 21 safe harbor letter demanding they drop the suit or be subject to sanctions from the court.

Outcome: Plaintiff’s counsel dropped the case.

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Professional Licensing & Disciplinary Defense

Failure to hold money in trust; conflict of interest. Attorney handling proceeds from the sale of property was accused of failure to hold the funds in trust and a conflict of interest. The OLR sought a 60-day suspension. Case was tried to a referee.

Outcome: case dismissed, no sanction.

Bar application. Law school graduate’s application for admission to the Wisconsin bar was rejected by the Board of Bar Examiners due to pre-law school financial and legal difficulties. Briefs were filed on behalf of client and favorable references assembled.

Outcome: BBE reversed itself and admitted the applicant to practice.

Excessive fees; dishonesty; responsibility for performance of an investigator. The Office of Lawyer Regulation undertook an investigation of attorney accused by clients of charging excessive fees; failing to properly monitor the actions of, and control the expenses by, an investigator; and being dishonest the fee arrangement and the likely total of fees to be charged. We provided several lengthy analysis letters to the OLR.

Outcome: case dropped; no hearing, no sanction.

Practice of Law without a License. The Office of Lawyer Regulation brought a grievance against an attorney working for the federal government. At issue were allegations of practicing law without a proper license. We filed a motion for summary judgment on the client’s behalf.

Outcome: The referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court recommended dismissal of the case and the OLR chose not to appeal.

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Securities Fraud

Breach of Fiduciary Duty: unsuitability. We represented the beneficiaries of a Trust in which the broker, while exercising discretion over the account, mismanaged the Trust’s funds by leaving the investments primarily in equities. There was also a claim against the corporate trustee for failure to properly discharge its duties.

Outcome: The trustee settled prior to trial for a confidential amount. At trial, for the claims against the broker, the arbitration panel found in our clients’ favor and gave an award of more than $200,000.

Churning; unsuitability. An elderly widow lost a considerable portion of her life savings in a stock account handled by the broker on a discretionary basis. A Complaint was filed with the NASD, alleging churning in the account, unsuitability of the investments, and a failure of supervision by the broker-dealer.

Outcome: the case was settled, before trial, for over $100,000.

Fraud. A prominent Milwaukee broker persuaded various investors around the state to invest in two companies by misrepresenting the success and prospects of the companies. For example, with respect to a biotech company, he advised customers that he had inside knowledge that the company had developed a cure for AIDS. We commenced multiple actions, both in court and in arbitration. Because the broker was a major producer for the firm, and because a number of cases were involved, the broker-dealer defended vigorously.

Outcome: The broker was dismissed by the broker-dealer, and we recovered in excess of $500,000 for our clients, through settlements and arbitration awards.

Failure to diversify; unsuitability. Husband and wife relied on a broker who proceeded to over-concentrate their investments in the technology sector, including in unsuitably risky stocks. When the market for technology stocks declined, the couple lost considerable money which would not have been lost if the account had been properly managed. A Statement of Claims was filed with the NASD, an arbitration panel was appointed, and discovery (the exchange of documents) was conducted.

Outcome: Prior to trial, the case settled for over $97,000.

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