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2009AP3076 Dyer, et al. v. Waste Management of Wisconsin Inc., et al.

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//July 21, 2011//

2009AP3076 Dyer, et al. v. Waste Management of Wisconsin Inc., et al.

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//July 21, 2011//

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Torts
Nuisance; trespass

This appeal involves lengthy proceedings regarding a lawsuit brought by owners or occupants of land (collectively, the landowners) near a landfill in Waukesha County that was formerly operated by Waste Management. The landowners alleged that Waste Management acted negligently in allowing vinyl chloride, a hazardous substance, to travel from the landfill to the groundwater beneath the landowners’ properties. After a jury verdict in favor of Waste Management, the landowners asked the circuit court to change the answer to the causation verdict question and to direct verdicts on the private nuisance and trespass claims. The circuit court granted the landowners’ requests. As we explain, the circuit court’s decisions were erroneous because they were based on an incorrect analysis of the interaction between particular acts or omissions alleged to be negligent and the issue of causation.

The cross-appeal, brought by the landowners, relates to issues raised in the landowners’ motions for a new trial, which the circuit court denied. Among their contentions, the landowners argue that the circuit court improperly dismissed their claims related to a fear of developing cancer. We address each error alleged by the landowners, and conclude that reversal and remand for a new trial is not warranted.

Thus, we reverse the circuit court’s decisions changing the verdict answer on the causation question and directing verdicts on the private nuisance and trespass claims and, accordingly, remand for entry of judgment in favor of Waste Management. We affirm the circuit court with respect to the issues raised in the cross-appeal. Not recommended for publication in the official reports.

2009AP3076 Dyer, et al. v. Waste Management of Wisconsin Inc., et al.

Dist II, Waukesha County, Foster, Reilly, JJ., Lundsten, J.

Attorneys: For Appellant: Lyons, Thomas P., Brookfield; Nijman, Jennifer T., Chicago, IL; For Respondent: Grzezinski, Dennis M., Madison; Thomsen, Mark, Brookfield

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