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Wisconsin Supreme Court accepts one new case

Madison, Wisconsin - September 10, 2015

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has voted to accept one new case and has acted to deny review in a number of other cases. The case numbers, issues, and counties of origin of granted cases are listed below. Hyperlinks to Court of Appeals' decisions are also provided where available. The synopsis below is not a complete analyses of the issues presented. More information about any particular case before the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals can be found on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Access website.

2014AP940 Walworth State Bank v. Abbey Springs Condo. Assoc.

This case involves a dispute over condominium assessments that allegedly accrued after a bank purchased two foreclosed condominium units at a sheriff's sale and then sold the units to Douglas and Deborah Christensen.

The Supreme Court reviews whether the condominium association may legally enforce a policy that forbids new owners or occupants of the units from using recreational facilities at the development until the back assessments are paid up to date. Also, the Court reviews whether the condominium association unjustly enriched itself by taking the assessment payments that were made by the bank under protest.

Some background: In August 2012, Walworth State Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings against the owner of units 18 and 19 of Abbey Springs Condominium No. 1, located at the Abbey Springs development in Fontana, Wis.

Abbey Springs Condominium Association, which had a lien against the units, was named a defendant along with Abbey Springs Inc. A judgment of foreclosure was entered, which provided that Abbey Springs, and all persons claiming under it, were barred and foreclosed of all right, title, interest, lien, or equity of redemption in and to the property.

In January 2013, prior to the sheriff's sale, Abbey Springs sent the bank a letter notifying it that Abbey Springs had "adopted a policy to forbid the use of [Abbey Springs'] recreational facilities to the owners or occupants of any [condominium] unit upon which assessments or other amounts owed to the Association are delinquent, regardless of whether or not the Association's lien rights were eliminated by the foreclosure."

In a follow-up letter in June 2013, Abbey Springs stated that the bank was liable for assessments accrued after the date the court confirmed the sale of the property, and that Abbey Springs has "not created a restriction on any use of the condominium unit, but have only restricted the use of certain facilities which are not part of the common element of the condominium."

On July 12, 2013, Abbey Springs issued a letter that provided: "All Monthly Charges and Monthly Assessments on Unit 18 & 19 of Abbey Springs will be paid in full through July 31, 2013, provided the seller pays Abbey Springs $13,225.32 which includes the balance of 2012 deficit assessment and prorated portion of 2013 Food and Bar Minimum, if applicable."

The Christensens refused to close on the condominium units as scheduled on July 12 and the bank's attorney demanded that Abbey Springs "provide clean title to the property, without any unpaid dues, assessments or liens, and without any Association imposed restrictions against use of the condominium's facilities."

Walworth argued that, contrary to § 703.165(5)(b), Abbey Springs' policy "forces a new owner to pay assessments owed by the previous owner," which have been discharged by foreclosure, "in order to enjoy the common elements of the condominium," and is effectively a "ransom for debt that has legally been extinguished."

The bank and Abbey Springs filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the bank on its action for declaratory judgment and its claim for unjust enrichment.

Abbey Springs appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed.

The Court of Appeals said the statute establishes the priority of an association's lien for unpaid assessments in relation to other liens on a condominium unit and does not address the issue of liability for delinquent assessments, nor does it address the effect of foreclosure on an association's lien.

The Wisconsin Bankers Association filed an amicus brief indicating: "The (Court of Appeals') decision allows developers and associations to do an end run around the repose intended under the Wisconsin statutes for lenders and new owners with respect to unpaid assessments of the previous owner. . . . If allowed to stand, the decision will result in bad policy and harm to Wisconsin's economy."

A decision by the Supreme Court could clarify the law in this area.

Review denied: The Supreme Court denied review in the following cases. As the state's law-developing court, the Supreme Court exercises its discretion to select for review only those cases that fit certain statutory criteria (see Wis. Stat. § 809.62). Except where indicated, these cases came to the Court via petition for review by the party who lost in the lower court:

2014AP561-CR State v. Harrison

2014AP1171-CR State v. Boncher

2014AP1360-CR State v. Bearhart

2014AP1496 Chili Implement Co. v. CNH America

2014AP380 O'Grady v. Abrahamson - Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson did not participate.
2014AP1281-CR State v. Upright
2015AP836 Crabtree v. Westfield - Justice N. Patrick Crooks did not participate.

2015AP519-W Dahl v. Clussman

Eau Claire
2014AP2425-CR State v. Woldmoe
2015AP455-W Northern v. COA, Dist. III

2014AP2475-W Morris v. McDonald

Green Lake
2014AP990-CR State v. King

2015AP918-W Kaufman v. Kemper

2014AP1892-CRNM State v. Baker
2015AP31-35-NM Kenosha County DHS v. D.R.M. - Justice David T. Prosser, Jr. did not participate.

2014AP425-CRNM State v. Kubiak
2014AP1752 State v. Evans

2012AP337-CR State v. Sarfraz - Justice David T. Prosser, Jr. did not participate.
2013AP281-CR State v. Socha
2014AP407 State v. Morens
2014AP867-CR State v. Coleman
2014AP891 Green Tree Svc. v. Henk
2014AP901 State v. Leiser
2014AP971-CR State v. Berrios
2014AP997-CR State v. Johnson
2014AP1103 State v. Richard
2014AP1168-CR State v. Lee-Kendrick
2014AP1184-CR State v. Perkins
2014AP1246-CR State v. Miller
2014AP1304-W Pegues v. Haines
2014AP1383-CR State v. Hopkins
2014AP1574-W Jackson v. Kemper
2014AP1575-CR State v. Robinson
2014AP1596-CRNM State v. Lacy
2014AP1665-CR State v. Laura
2014AP1670-CR State v. Hogan - Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack did not participate.
2014AP2148 Joe DeBelak Plumbing v. Bishop
2014AP2197 State v. Rosemond
2015AP352-54 State v. Burkett
2015AP812-W Caldwell v. Bartow
2015XX340-CR State v. Miller

2013AP2192-CR State v. Clark

2014AP1688 Piette v. Horn
2014AP2168-FT Ripco Credit Union v. Bukovic

2013AP1847-CR State v. Rosenthal

2013AP2806 Weis v. Kapinos
2014AP1777 Jacobson v. Jacobson
2014AP2165-CR State v. Schmucker

2014AP984 Bank of Am. v. Booth

2014AP51-53-CR State v. Locke
2014AP572-CR State v. Barnes
2014AP850 State v. Rogers
2014AP1531-CR State v. Reynolds
2014AP2249-W Rogers v. Pollard
2014AP2450-CRNM State v. Coleman
2015AP1150-W Price v. Kemper

2014AP253-CR State v. Taylor

St. Croix
2014AP1339-CR State v. Haakenstad

2013AP2095-CR State v. Rimson

2015AP982-W Sturdevant v. Fath

2014AP1589-CR State v. Peter - Justice David T. Prosser, Jr. did not participate.
2014AP2126 Lander v. Gomez

2014AP215-17-CR State v. Gallipeau
2014AP423-CR State v. Streicher

2014AP1115-CR State v. Dietzman
2014AP1782-83 State v. Dillon
2014AP2047-CR State v. Lynch
2014AP2208 Lenz v. Guardian Credit Union

2014AP397 Waushara Co. v. Decoster
2015AP486-W Powless v. Nett

2014AP206 Edmonson v. Mathis
2014AP1357 Cattau v. National Ins. Service - Justice David T. Prosser, Jr. did not participate.
2014AP1876-CR State v. Nigl
2014AP2628 County of Winnebago v. Hunter

2014AP1423 Keith v. Keith-Hansen

Contact: Tom Sheehan
Court Information Officer
(608) 261-6640

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