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Herbst v. Wuennenberg

Wisconsin Supreme Court
266 N.W.2d 391 (1978)


Jason Herbst, Ronald Nadel, and Robert Ritholz (plaintiffs) worked for the Republican party in Madison, Wisconsin, verifying that voters lived at the addresses listed on their voter registrations. The plaintiffs verified voter lists by visiting the addresses on the lists and checking the names printed on the mailboxes at those addresses. The plaintiffs entered an apartment building owned by Carol Wuennenberg (defendant), who served as a city alderperson for Madison. While the plaintiffs were checking the names on the mailboxes in the building’s vestibule, Wuennenberg came into the vestibule from inside the building. Wuennenberg inquired about the plaintiffs’ activities and became upset when they told her. The plaintiffs refused to identify themselves to Wuennenberg. Wuennenberg’s husband appeared, and at her request, he called the police. While she awaited the police, Wuennenberg exited the vestibule and stood outside the door in order to block the plaintiffs from leaving. The plaintiffs wanted to leave but remained in the vestibule. Five minutes later, the police arrived. After giving their names and purpose to the police, the police told the plaintiffs that they were doing nothing wrong. The plaintiffs brought a suit for false imprisonment against Wuennenberg. A jury found in the plaintiffs’ favor and awarded them damages. Wuennenberg appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Abrahamson, J.)

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