Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court

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An employee is not eligible for benefits under Wis. Stat. 102.42(1m) if the disability-causing treatment was directed at treating something other than the employee’s compensable injury. Plaintiff suffered from a soft-tissue strain, which was work-related, and a degenerate disc disease, which was not work-related. In the belief that it was necessary to treat her soft-tissue strain, Plaintiff underwent surgery, which, in actuality, was treating the unrelated degenerative disc disease. The procedure left Plaintiff with a permanent partial disability. Plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim, which the * Commission denied. The circuit court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that, based on its interpretation of section 102.42(1m), an employee need only have a good faith belief that the treatment was required. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and affirmed the Commission’s order dismissing Plaintiff’s claim for disability benefits, holding that Plaintiff’s claim must be allowed because her surgery treated her pre-existing condition, not her compensable injury. View "Flug v. Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The circuit court affirmed a determination by the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) that Appellant was ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was terminated for substantial fault. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant was entitled to unemployment compensation because her actions did not fit within the definition of substantial fault as set forth in Wis. Stat. 103.04(5g)(a) where she was terminated for committing “one or more inadvertent errors” during the course of her employment. Remanded to LIRC to determine the amount of unemployment benefits Appellant was owed. View "Operton v. Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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Since 1938, the City of Milwaukee has required its city employees to comply with a residency requirement. The residency requirement is set forth in section 5-02 of the City’s charter. In 2013, the Legislature enacted Wis. Stat. 66.0502, which bans residency requirements. Despite enactment of the statute, the City continued to enforce its residency requirement, claiming it had the authority to do so under the state Constitution’s home rule amendment. The Milwaukee Police Association sought relief and damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that the City can no longer enforce its residency requirement because section 66.0502 trumps section 5-02 of the City’s charter. With respect to Association’s section 1983 claim, the court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s decision not to award relief or damages, concluding that because section 66.0502 did not involve a matter of statewide concern and did not affect all local government units uniformly, it did not trump the City’s ordinance. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) section 66.0502 precludes the City from enforcing its residency requirement; and (2) the Police Association is not entitled to relief or damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983 because the Association failed to meet the requirements necessary to prevail on a section 1983 claim. View "Milwaukee Police Ass’n v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law

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United Foods & Commercial Workers Union, Local 1473 filed a class action against Hormel Foods Corporation alleging that Hormel violated Wisconsin wage and hour laws by failing to pay employees for time spent putting on and taking off company-required clothing and equipment before and after shifts at one of Hormel’s canning plants. The circuit court ruled in favor of the Union, ordered Hormel to compensate its employees for time spent “donning” and “doffing” the required clothing and equipment, and awarded the class monetary damages of $195,087. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Hormel is required to compensate its employees for the 5.7 minutes per day spent donning and doffing the clothing and equipment at the beginning and end of the day; and (2) the required donning and doffing of clothing and equipment at the beginning and end of the day does not fall within the doctrine of de minimis non curat lex, as the wages involved are not a “trifle” either for the employees or Hormel. View "United Food & Commercial Workers Union v. Hormel Foods Corp." on Justia Law

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The Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) concluded that Joell Schigur had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the Department of Justice (DOJ) took unlawful retaliatory action against her because she lawfully disclosed, or the DOJ believed that she lawfully disclosed, information under Wis. Stat. 230.81. The circuit court reversed the decision of the DWD. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an opinion alone, as to the lawfulness or appropriateness of government activity, is not “information” as defined in section 230.80(5); (2) the communication at issue in this case was not a “disclosure” under section 230.81 because the information was already known to the persons receiving the communication; and (3) Schigur’s assertion that the DOJ believed that she disclosed information rested on a misinterpretation of section 230.80(8)(c) and therefore failed. View "State Dep’t of Justice v. State Dep’t of Workforce Dev." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether unpaid interns are entitled to the anti-retaliation protections of Wis. Stat. 146.997, Wisconsin’s health care worker protection statute. In the instant case, Asma Masri’s position as an uncompensated intern at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) was terminated after Masri reported “clinical/ethical” concerns to an MCW administrator. Masri filed a retaliation complaint against MCW with the Equal Rights Division (ERD) of the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). ERD determined that Masri was not entitled to anti-retaliation protection under section 146.997 because the statute is limited to employees, and Masri was not an employee where she received no financial compensation. The Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) affirmed. Granting due weight deference to LIRC’s decision, the circuit court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) LIRC’s decision is accorded due weight deference because LIRC has experience interpreting the meaning of “employee” and various statutes and is charged with administering section 146.997; and (2) LIRC correctly found that section 146.997 applies only to employees, a category that does not include interns who do not receive compensation or tangible benefits. View "Masri v. State Labor & Indus. Review Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Russell Adams sustained injuries while plowing snow for his employer, the Village of Fontana. Adams sued Northland Equipment Company, which had repaired the plow before the accident, and its insurer, pursuant to Wis. Stat. 102.29(1). The Village’s worker’s compensation insurer accepted Northland’s offer to settle Adams’ claim and moved the circuit court to compel Adams to accept the settlement as well. The circuit court granted the motion. Adams appealed, arguing that a worker’s compensation insurer cannot compel an employee to accept settlement of a third party tort claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a circuit court may compel an employee to accept settlement of the claim the legislature created in Wis. Stat. 102.29(1); and (2) the circuit court’s authority to compel an employee to accept settlement does not violate the employee’s right to a jury trial or procedural due process. View "Adams v. Northland Equip. Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs in this case filed an amended complaint seeking a declaration that certain portions of 2011 Wis. Acts 10 and 32 violated the Wisconsin Constitution and asking for injunctive relief. The circuit court entered a declaratory judgment that granted partial summary judgment to Plaintiffs. During the pendency of the appeal, the circuit court held Defendant Commissioners in contempt. Thereafter, State Defendants brought an emergency motion to stay the contempt order, which the court of appeals denied. State Defendants subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court to stay the declaratory judgment and any subsequent circuit court orders. The Supreme Court (1) vacated the contempt order, which rendered State Defendants' motion to stay the contempt order moot, holding that the contempt order constituted an impermissible interference with the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court; and (2) declined to rule on the stay of the declaratory judgment. View "Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Walker" on Justia Law

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After receiving a work-related injury during his employment by Employer, Employee applied for worker's compensation benefits. An ALJ ordered that further medical procedures were required to determine whether Employee was permanently and totally disabled, but the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) proceeded to award benefits to Employee for his permanent total disability. Employer filed a complaint seeking judicial review of LIRC's decision. The circuit court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the circuit court was required to dismiss Employer's complaint for lack of competency based on Employer's failure to name its insurer (Insurer) as an "adverse party" pursuant to Wis. Stat. 102.23(1)(a). The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with instructions to affirm LIRC's decision, holding (1) the circuit court had competency to adjudicate Employer's complaint notwithstanding Employer's omission of Insurer because Insurer was not an "adverse party" for purposes of section 102.23(1)(a); and (2) LIRC did not exceed its authority in awarding Employee permanent total disability benefits, and its finding that Employee was entitled to benefits on an odd-lot basis was supported by credible and substantial evidence. View "Xcel Energy Servs., Inc. v. Labor & Ind. Review Comm'n " on Justia Law

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Petitioners commenced this action against Defendants - a voluntary firefighter (Firefighter), the fire department of which Firefighter was a member, and their insurers - alleging that Firefighter negligently caused their injuries when he drove his vehicle through a red stop signal and collided in the intersection with a vehicle carrying Petitioners. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that Firefighter was subject to public officer immunity and that his acts did not fall within the ministerial duty exception to that immunity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because Firefighter was within the scope of his employment when the collision occurred, he was within the class of individuals that may be shielded by public officer immunity; but (2) Firefighter was not entitled to that immunity because his acts in proceeding through the red stop signal without an audible signal violated a ministerial duty. Remanded. View "Brown v. Acuity, A Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law