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Crest Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Cadillac, Inc. v. Willemsen

Supreme Court of Wisconsin
384 N.W.2d 692 (1986)


Facts

Crest Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Cadillac, Inc. (Crest) (plaintiff) and Bauer Glass both sit on adjoining pieces of property. In the past, water would run across Crest’s property and flow onto Bauer Glass’ property, as it was lower in elevation. When Bauer Glass was purchased by Willemsen (defendant), he added landfill to the property, raising its elevation above that of Crest’s property. Willemsen also attached a sewer system to the municipal sewer system for $68,348.94. Willemsen encouraged Crest to also connect to the municipal sewer system at a cost of $9,000. Willemsen warned Crest that water would flow onto Crest’s land, and would cause flooding if its property was not connected to the sewer system. Crest did not connect to the sewer system, and its land was subsequently damaged as a result of flooding from runoff. Crest brought an action against Willemsen for damages in the amount of $4,500, and costs associated with connecting with the sewer system, now listed at $11,620. The circuit court ruled in favor of Willemsen because he had warned Crest of the consequences of not connecting to the sewer system. The court also ordered Crest to connect to the system to avoid future damages. On appeal, the court of appeals held in Crest’s favor on the grounds that the improvements by Willemsen blocked the natural flow of water in an unreasonable manner. Willemsen petitioned for certiorari to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Ceci, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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