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Tax — property tax — fair market value — issue preclusion

Wisconsin Court of Appeals

Civil

Tax — property tax — fair market value — issue preclusion

Lands’ End, Inc. has, since 2006, challenged the City of Dodgeville’s 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 assessments of Lands’ End’s Dodgeville property. Three circuit court judges from three counties have issued decisions on the 2005 through 2010 challenges, and the 2011 and 2012 challenges are pending before a fourth circuit court. In the most recently completed round of circuit court litigation concerning the City’s 2007, 2009, and 2010 assessments, after a nine-day bench trial, circuit court Judge Robert P. VanDeHey determined the 2007, 2009, and 2010 fair market values and assessments of the Lands’ End property by combining the City’s appraiser’s “opinion of value” for the warehouse/distribution buildings on the property and Lands’ End’s appraiser’s “opinion of value” for the remaining buildings on the property.

Lands’ End appeals that part of the judgment that adopts the City’s appraiser’s values for the warehouse/distribution buildings, and the City cross-appeals that part of the judgment that adopts Lands’ End’s appraiser’s value for the remaining buildings on the property. Lands’ End also appeals the circuit court’s denial of its motions for summary judgment before trial and for judgment after trial, which Lands’ End had filed on the basis that issue preclusion applies to bind the parties to the fair market value of $25,000,000 established for 2006 by the first circuit court and affirmed on appeal. Lastly, Lands’ End appeals the circuit court’s denial of Lands’ End’s request for interest on the resulting 2007 property tax refund.

As explained below, we conclude that: (1) Lands’ End was entitled to summary judgment before trial as to the 2007 and 2009 assessments, on the basis that issue preclusion applies to bind the parties to the $25,000,000 fair market value established for 2006 in light of the evidence proffered on summary judgment; (2) issue preclusion does not apply as to the 2010 assessment in light of the evidence proffered at trial; (3) the circuit court properly weighed competing testimony and adopted the City’s appraiser’s values for the warehouse/distribution buildings and Lands’ End’s appraiser’s value for the remaining buildings based on the court’s reasoned consideration of that testimony as to the 2010 assessment; and (4) the circuit court lacks discretion to deny Lands’ End’s request for statutory interest as to the 2007 property tax refund. Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. Not recommended for publication in the official reports.

2013AP1490, 2013AP1491, 2013AP1492 Lands’ End Inc. v. City of Dodgeville

Dist IV, Iowa County, VanDeHey, J., Kloppenburg, J.

Attorneys: For Appellant: Millis, Don M., Madison; Polakowski, Jessica Hutson, Madison; For Respondent: Waskowski, Ted, Madison; Trupke, Amie B., Madison


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