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Watts v. Watts

Wisconsin Supreme Court
405 N.W.2d 305 (1987)


Facts

Sue Ann Evans (Sue) (plaintiff) and James Watts (James) (defendant) lived together for twelve years in a “marriage-like” relationship and had two children. Sue claims she quit her job and gave up her plans to become a nurse on James’s promise to provide for her. Sue took James’s last name, and the couple shared expenses, bank accounts, and tax returns, and held themselves out as husband and wife. Sue contributed to the partnership through housekeeping, childrearing, working at James’s office, and starting a family business, for which she was not compensated. Eventually, the couple broke up, and Sue moved out of their home. Sue brought claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and partition, claiming that she is entitled to her fair share of the wealth accumulated during the couple’s relationship. The Dane County Circuit Court dismissed Sue’s complaint for failure to state a claim. Sue appealed to the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin took jurisdiction over the case after a certification from the court of appeals.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Abrahamson, 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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