Admiral Ins. Co. v. Paper Converting Machine Co: In this case arising out of a product liability claim against Paper Converting Machine Co. (PCMC), PCMC’s insurance company verbally agreed to pay its policy limits toward settlement of the claim, but then later tried to back out of its promise. The court first dealt with a procedural issue, concluding that Admiral Insurance’s appeal of the circuit court’s judgment ordering the insurer to pay was timely. Addressing the merits, the court found the verbal agreement binding, despite a statute requiring settlement agreements between parties to be made in court, because Admiral had not been a party to the initial lawsuit between the injured party and PCMC.
State v. Felix: After an underage drinking party led to a fatal knife fight, police arrested the killer in his home without a warrant. After being read his Miranda rights, he made incriminating statements, and police also found incriminating evidence on his clothing at the police station. At issue was whether that evidence and testimony should be suppressed because of the unlawful warrantless arrest of the suspect in his home.
The court concluded suppression was unnecessary. Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, evidence obtained after an unlawfully-arrested suspect has been removed from his home (not during the arrest), does not need to be suppressed so long as the police had probable cause to arrest him. The court concluded this precedent decided the case and chose not to give stronger protections to criminal defendants under the Wisconsin Constitution, as the two dissenting justices, Abrahamson and Bradley, would have done.
May v. May: After a contentious divorce, ex-spouses later reached an agreement that, in exchange for the mother picking up more of their children’s daycare costs, the father agreed to establish a $1,203/month “floor” for child support, lasting 33 months, which he would be required to pay even if he lost his job or received a pay cut. At issue was whether this agreement was enforceable in court. The majority concluded it was, because the parties entered into it willingly, the terms were fair and reasonable, and most importantly, courts could use their equitable powers to override it if necessary to meet the best interests of the child. Chief Justice Abrahamson dissented, as she disapproved of the standard the majority used to test the agreement.
Johnson v. Cintas Corp. #2: What happens when you name the wrong party in a lawsuit, suing a parent company instead of its wholly-owned subsidiary? Unless it’s a simple spelling mistake, your case is going to get tossed out. The supreme court concluded that naming company A, when you should have named company B, in your summons and complaint fails to give the circuit court the jurisdiction or power over company B necessary to render a judgment against it. The court distinguished this situation from one in which a plaintiff simply spells a company’s name wrong and later amends its pleadings to the correct spelling. Two justices, Abrahamson and Bradley, dissented, concluding that this rule is too harsh on plaintiffs.