Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court

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This case centered on a dispute between Jack Link and his two sons, Jay and Troy. Jack and Troy filed suit against Jay seeking specific performance of an agreement that would require Jay to surrender his shares in Link Snacks. Jay filed counterclaims alleging Jack and Troy had breached fidicuiary duties owed to Jay by squeezing Jay out of Link Snacks to buy Jay's shares. The circuit court (1) granted specific enforcement of the agreement; (2) concluded that Jay had not been oppressed by Jack and Troy; and (3) remitted the jury's punitive damages award against Jack for breaching fiduciary duties to Jay. The court of appeals granted Jack partial dismissal of Jay's appeal and reversed the circuit court order remitting the punitive damages award against Jack. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit court erred in remitting the award of punitive damages against Jack; (2) the court of appeals properly rejected Jay's oppression claim; and (3) Jay did not, under the benefit-estoppel doctrine, waive his right to appeal the circuit court's decision to limit the evidence Jay could present regarding his theory of damages relating to his breach of fiduciary duty claims. Remanded.

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Court-appointed receiver Michael Polsky filed a complaint against defendants Daniel Virnich and Jack Moores, owners and officers of Communications Products, for breach of their fiduciary duties to the corporation after Communications Products defaulted on a loan to its largest creditor. The Supreme Court accepted review but split three to three. On return to the court of appeals, the judgment was reversed. Polsky filed a petition to review, which the Supreme Court granted. The Court then affirmed the court of appeals. The current action involved Polsky's motion to disqualify Justice Roggensack, asserting that because Justice Roggensack had not participated in the case when it was previously certified to the Court and when the Court's decision remanded the matter to the court of appeals, she should have been disqualified from participation in the decision to affirm the court of appeals. The Supreme Court denied Polsky's motion, holding (1) the Court does not have the power to remove a justice from participating in an individual proceeding, on a case-by-case basis, and (2) due process is provided by the decisions of the individual justices who participate in the cases presented to the court.

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Olsen's Mill, a grain elevator, and BNP Paribas, the elevator's largest creditor, entered into a voluntary assignment agreement for the benefit of creditors under Wis. Stat. 128 after Olsen's Mill defaulted on its obligations to Paribas. The circuit court approved of the assignment and ordered the sale of certain assets free and clear of Paribas's security interest without its consent. The court of appeals affirmed the order. On review, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, holding (1) the circuit court erred by ordering the sale of Paribas's collateral free and clear of Paribas's security interest without its consent; and (2) the court contravened the statute by approving an offer that circumvented the order of distribution mandated by Ws. Stat. 128.17(1). Remanded for a determination of what remedy was available under the circumstances.