Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Benson v. City of Madison

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

June 22, 2017

Thomas F. Benson, Mark Rechlicz, Mark Rechlicz Enterprises, Inc., Robert J. Muranyi, RJM Pro Golf Incorporation and William J. Scheer, Plaintiffs-Appellants-Petitioners,
v.
City of Madison, Defendant-Respondent.

          Submitted on Briefs: Oral Argument: April 19, 2017.

         REVIEW OF A DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS 371 Wis.2d 760, 886 N.W.2d 593 (2016 - Unpublished)

         Circuit Dane Richard G. Niess, L.C. No. 2014CV180

          For the plaintiff-appellant-petitioners, there were briefs by Kevin J. Palmersheim, Cathleen A. Dettmann and Haley Palmersheim, SC Middleton and oral argument by Kevin J. Palmersheim.

          For the defendant-respondent, there was a brief by Catherine M. Rottier and Boardman & Clark, . LLP, Madison, with whom on the brief was Michael P. May and Doran E. Viste, City of Madison Attorney's Office. There was an oral argument by Catherine M. Rottier and Paul Norman.

          ANNETTE KINGSLAND ZIEGLER, J.

         ¶1 This is a review of an unpublished decision of the court of appeals, Benson v. City of Madison, No. 2015AP2366, unpublished slip op. (Wis. Ct. App. Aug. 25, 2016), which affirmed the Dane County circuit court's[1]judgment dismissing a lawsuit filed by the petitioners against the City of Madison ("the City") pursuant to the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law ("the WFDL"), a statute that governs, among other things, the termination or nonrenewal of specified types of business relationships. See generally Wis.Stat. ch. 135 ("Dealership Practices") (2013-14) .[2]

         ¶2 The City owns four public golf courses: Odana, Yahara, Monona, and Glenway. For years, the City entered into "operating agreements" ("Agreements") with the petitioners, four "golf professionals" ("Golf Pros"), to oversee the clubhouse operations at these courses.[3] That is, while the City maintained the physical golf courses, the Golf Pros performed varied tasks such as collecting greens fees, hiring and managing attendants, supervising golfing, operating the clubhouse and pro shop, selling concessions, and giving lessons.[4]

         ¶3 In 2012 the City informed the Golf Pros that it would not be renewing the Agreements. The Golf Pros subsequently filed a lawsuit against the City, both alleging that the City had failed to comply with the WFDL in ending the City's relationships with them and seeking damages. The circuit court below ultimately dismissed the lawsuit on summary judgment, concluding that the relationships between the Golf Pros and the City did not constitute "dealerships" protected by the WFDL. See Wis.Stat. § 135.02(3) . The Golf Pros appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed. Benson, unpublished slip op., ¶2.

         ¶4 On this appeal, we are asked to resolve two principal questions: first, whether the WFDL applies to the City at all; and second, whether the relationships between the Golf Pros and the City are "dealerships" under the WFDL. Additionally, assuming we answer both questions in the affirmative, the City contends that the Golf Pros' lawsuit is time-barred and should be dismissed on grounds of governmental immunity.

         ¶5 We conclude that the WFDL applies to the City; that the relationships between the Golf Pros and the City are "dealerships" under the WFDL; that the Golf Pros' lawsuit is not time-barred; and that the City is not immune from the lawsuit. Consequently, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶6 Although the City's relationships with the Golf Pros span back a number of years, the most recent version of the Agreements governed a period running from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2012.[5] Because the nature of the relationships between the City and the Golf Pros is central to this case, we first summarize the duties of the City and of the Golf Pros, as well as overall financial arrangements, as set forth in these Agreements.

         ¶7 Each Golf Pro entered into a separate Agreement with the City, with each of the four Golf Pros managing clubhouse operations at one of the City's four courses. The Agreements begin by noting, inter alia, that the City "is engaged in the operation and maintenance of [the golf course] and desires to engage a competent and qualified golf professional to operate, manage, and provide certain services at [the golf course]"; that "the Golf Pro desires to procure from the City the right to operate and provide the services"; and that "the public interest and welfare will be served . . . by the granting of an agreement to a reputable party who will provide certain services to the public patronizing the golf course." The Agreements then grant to each Golf Pro "the exclusive privilege and obligation to operate" one of the four golf courses.

         ¶8 Pursuant to the Agreements, each Golf Pro was hired to perform the following tasks, among others (some of which overlap):

• "[s]upervise and operate the [golf course] in a clean, efficient, and creditable manner, " "manag[e] the speed of play, " "efficiently start[] play on the first tee so as to maximize play and revenue to the City, " and "provide a ranger/ambassador when heavy play so requires";
• "[e]mploy attendants to sell and collect green fees, resident and non-resident annual passports and other established player promotional devices, renewals, and take and process reservations, " and "collect for the City all green fees, locker fees, player promotional pass fees, and tournament fees";
• "operate concession rights at the pro shop, clubhouse, and golf course, " "sell food and beverages" during specified periods, "[o]btain the necessary licenses to operate and maintain on the premises a concession operation for the sale of beverages, confections, and food, " and "sell golf clothing and golf equipment";
• "[p]rovide a sufficient number of motorized golf carts to meet the needs of the public" and "rent and operate golf carts and equipment"; and
• "teach and give golf lessons for compensation" as well as "conduct" a specified number of "free clinics each season."

         ¶9 Significantly, the Golf Pros were "responsible for the purchase of all supplies and equipment used in the pro shop, golf range, motorized cart concessions, and food and beverage concessions." Each Golf Pro was entitled to "hire assistants to assist in the operation" of the golf course, "concessions and collecting money due the City under" the Agreement. But the Golf Pros were "responsible for the hiring and supervision of all employees necessary for the efficient operation of the clubhouse and the pro shop and further, the hiring, training, scheduling and supervision of course rangers and starters." The Golf Pros were also "responsible for the salaries, benefits, and premiums for Worker's Compensation and Social Security, all income tax deduction and any other tax or payroll deductions required by law" for these employees. The Golf Pros were required to maintain a number of different types of insurance.

         ¶10 The Agreements did not oblige the Golf Pros to maintain the physical courses; this was performed by the City through its own employees. The City also owned the land and buildings and paid relevant utilities.[6]

         ¶11 The City paid each Golf Pro a "base contract payment" specified in the Agreements. The Golf Pros also received:

All income from concessions, sale of merchandise at the pro shop, golf instruction, pull cart . . . and golf club rental, except for a return each week to the City of Madison fifteen (15%) percent of the gross receipts of pull carts . . . and golf club rental, and eleven (11%) percent of the restaurant concession.[7]

         ¶12 According to the Agreements, the Golf Pros did not receive any money from the "green fees, locker fees, player promotional pass fees, and tournament fees"; the Golf Pros simply collected these fees and "remit[ted]" them to the City. According to the parties, "the City set the prices for greens fees, passes and locker fees" and furnished "the equipment necessary to process payments of greens fees, locker fees and charges for season passes." On the other hand, the Golf Pros set food, beverage, and merchandise prices.

         ¶13 The Agreements required the Golf Pros to provide either $1, 000 or $3, 500 (depending on the Agreement) each year "to a fund to be matched by the City to execute a formal marketing plan for [the City's] golf program." The Agreements state that the Golf Pros "agree[] to participate in the creation of this marketing plan."

         ¶14 Finally, the Agreements provide that "[t]he relationship between the City and the Golf Pro shall be one of an independent contractor and not one of employer and employee, " adding:

[I]n the operation and conduct of this Agreement, the City does not grant Golf Pro the right to sell or distribute any goods or services provided by the City, nor does the City grant Golf Pro the right to use a City trade name, trademark, service mark, logotype, advertising or other commercial symbol.

         ¶15 On August 1, 2012-a few months before the expiration of the Agreements-the Golf Pros met with the City's Parks Superintendent ("Superintendent") and other City employees. The Superintendent informed the Golf Pros that "the golf operation was not sustainable" and asked for "proposals for clubhouse operations for the next term of the" Agreements. Proposals were submitted, but on October 8, 2012, the City's mayor decided to "recommend internalizing clubhouse operations" to the City's Common Council. On October 12, 2012, the Superintendent informed the Golf Pros that the Agreements were not going to be renewed.

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶16 On October 25, 2012, the Golf Pros served the City with a notice of claim. See Wis.Stat. § 893.80 ("Claims against governmental bodies or officers, agents or employees; notice of injury; limitation of damages and suits.") . On January 17, 2014, the Golf Pros filed a complaint in Dane County circuit court against the City alleging that the City had failed to comply with the WFDL in terminating the City's relationships with them; the Golf Pros sought damages. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the City "failed to provide to the Golf Pros any written notice of termination or nonrenewal, let alone a notice that can be said to comply with the requirements" of the WFDL and "failed to provide the Golf Pros with the required 60 days in which to rectify any claimed deficiency, " adding that "indeed [the City] claimed no deficiency in the Golf Pros' performance whatsoever." The Golf Pros argued that the City's "nonrenewal and termination of the Golf Pros' respective [Agreements] was a direct violation of the WFDL."[8]

         ¶17 On August 31, 2015, the circuit court issued a decision and order granting a motion for summary judgment filed by the City and denying a motion for partial summary judgment filed by the Golf Pros. The decision was based on the circuit court's conclusion that "[t]he Golf Pros' contractual relationships with the City were not protected 'dealerships' under the [WFDL]." On September 29, 2015, the circuit court entered an order for judgment and judgment of dismissal.

         ¶18 On November 11, 2015, the Golf Pros filed a notice of appeal. On August 25, 2016, the court of appeals affirmed, "agree[ing] with the circuit court that . . . the Golf Pros did not have dealerships." Benson, unpublished slip op., ¶2. On September 26, 2016, the Golf Pros filed a petition for review in this court. On January 10, 2017, we granted the petition.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶19 This appeal arose following the circuit court's decision on summary judgment. "We review summary judgment rulings independently, applying the well-established standards set forth in Wis.Stat. § 802.08." Marks v. Houston Cas. Co., 2016 WI 53, ¶35, 369 Wis.2d 547, 881 N.W.2d 309 (quoting Hirschhorn v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 2012 WI 20, ¶20, 338 Wis.2d 761, 809 Wis.2d 529).

         ¶20 In this case we interpret and apply the WFDL. "The interpretation and application of a statute present questions of law that this court reviews de novo while benefitting from the analyses of the court of appeals and circuit court." State v. Denny, 2017 WI 17, ¶46, 373 Wis.2d 390, 891 N.W.2d 144 (quoting State v. Alger, 2015 WI 3, ¶21, 360 Wis.2d 193, 858 N.W.2d 346) .

         IV. ANALYSIS

         ¶21 The WFDL governs "dealerships, " which are specially-defined "contract[s] or agreement[s]" entered into between "grantors" and "dealers." Wis.Stat. §§ 135.02-135.025. Generally speaking, where dealerships exist, the WFDL imposes certain obligations on grantors with respect to those relationships. For instance, grantors are prohibited from "terminat[ing], cancel[ling], fail[ing] to renew or substantially chang[ing] the competitive circumstances of a dealership agreement without good cause, " Wis.Stat. § 135.03, and usually must provide "at least 90 days' prior written notice of termination, cancellation, nonrenewal or substantial change in competitive circumstances." Wis.Stat. § 135.04. If a grantor "violates" the WFDL,

a dealer may bring an action against such grantor in any court of competent jurisdiction for damages sustained by the dealer as a consequence of the grantor's violation, together with the actual costs of the action, including reasonable actual attorney fees, and the dealer also may be granted injunctive relief against unlawful termination, cancellation, nonrenewal or substantial change of competitive circumstances.

Wis. Stat. § 135.06.

         ¶22 In this case we are asked to determine whether the WFDL applies to the City, and if so, whether the relationships between the Golf Pros and the City are "dealerships" under the WFDL. We now examine these questions. A. Whether the WFDL Applies to the City

         ¶23 To ascertain whether the WFDL applies to the City, we look to the text of the relevant statute. As explained, the WFDL concerns itself with "dealerships, " which are entered into between "grantors" and "dealers." The WFDL defines "grantor" to mean "a person who grants a dealership." Wis.Stat. § 135.02(5) . "Dealer" is defined to mean "a person who is a grantee of a dealership situated in this state." § 135.02(2) . Finally, the statute defines "dealership" in part as follows:

A contract or agreement, either expressed or implied, whether oral or written, between 2 or more persons, by which a person is granted the right to sell or distribute goods or services, or use a trade name, trademark, service mark, logotype, advertising or other commercial symbol, in which there is a community of interest in the business of offering, selling or distributing goods or services at wholesale, retail, by lease, agreement or otherwise.

§ 135.02(3)(a) (emphasis added). Thus, whether the WFDL applies to the City turns on whether the City is a "person" under the WFDL.

         ¶24 Luckily, "[p]erson" is defined in the WFDL: "a natural person, partnership, joint venture, corporation or other entity." Wis.Stat. § 135.02(6) (emphasis added). We agree with the Golf Pros that the City falls within this definition. The WFDL applies by its terms to "corporation[s], " and the City is a municipal corporation. See, e.g., City of Madison v. Hyland, Hall & Co., 73 Wis.2d 364, 370, 243 N.W.2d 422');">243 N.W.2d 422 (1976) ("By statute, the City of Madison is 'a body corporate and politic, with powers and privileges of a municipal corporation at common law and conferred by these statutes.' [Wis. Stat. § 66.019] . [9] This court has repeatedly held that a city is a municipal corporation."); Wis.Stat. § 62.09(7) (a) ("The corporate authority of the city shall be vested in the mayor and common council.").

         ¶25 This interpretation comports with our oft-repeated rules that " [s]tatutory language is given its common, ordinary, and accepted meaning" and that "[i]f the meaning of the statute is plain, we ordinarily stop the inquiry." State ex rel. Kalal v. Circuit Court for Dane Cty., 2004 WI 58, ¶45, 271 Wis.2d 633, 681 N.W.2d 110 (quoting Seider v. O'Connell, 2000 WI 76, ¶43, 236 Wis.2d 211, 612 N.W.2d 659) . "Without some indication to the contrary, general words (like all words, general or not) are to be accorded their full and fair scope. They are not to be arbitrarily limited. This is the general-terms canon." Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts 101 (2012) (referring to this rule by its Latin designation, "generalia verba sunt generaliter intelligenda"); see also, e.g., State v. Kozel, 2017 WI 3, ¶39, 373 Wis.2d 1, 889 N.W.2d 423 ("We will not read into the statute a limitation the plain language does not evidence." (quoting Cty. of Dane v. LIRC, 2009 WI 9, ¶33, 315 Wis.2d 293, 759 N.W.2d 571)). The general term "corporation" thus presumptively should be read to include more specific types of corporations.

         ¶26 Numerous courts have similarly concluded that statutes referring to "corporations" include within their ambit municipal corporations. See, e.g., Lincoln v. Ricketts, 297 U.S. 373, 373-78 (1936) (section of Bankruptcy Act affected municipal corporations, where the section applied to "person[s]" and "person" was defined to include corporations); Hoye v. United States, 277 F.2d 116, 119 (9th Cir. 1960) (section of Internal Revenue Code defining "person" to include "an officer or employee of a corporation" contemplated municipal corporations because the section made "no distinction in its applicability to different classes of corporations"); Madison Cty. Fiscal Court v. Kentucky Labor Cabinet, 352 S.W.3d 572, 576 (Ky. 2011) (cities were "subject to . . . wage and hour requirements" of statute defining "employer" to include "corporation[s], " because "[a] municipal corporation is a corporation" (second alteration in original)).

         ¶27 But we need not look beyond Wisconsin for guidance on the question. In Hyland, Hall & Co. we considered "whether cities and counties have standing to sue for treble damages under the Wisconsin antitrust act." Hyland, Hall & Co., 73 Wis.2d at 367. The City itself was one of the plaintiffs in that case. See id. at 367-68. The relevant statute applied to "person[s], " which was defined to include "corporations." Id. at 369 (quoting then-Wis. Stat. §§ 133.01, 133.04). We noted that we had "repeatedly held that a city is a municipal corporation" and concluded that "cities . . . are 'corporations' within the meaning of" the statute such that the City was "entitled to sue for treble damages." Id. at 370-71.

         ¶28 In the course of our analysis in that case, we also observed that Wis.Stat. § 990.01 provided as follows:

Construction of laws; words and phrases. . . . In the construction of Wisconsin laws the words and phrases which follow shall be construed as indicated unless such construction would produce a result inconsistent with the manifest intent of the legislature:
(26) Person. "Person" includes all partnerships, associations and bodies politic and corporate.

Id. at 369 (emphasis added) (quoting then-Wis. Stat. § 990.01(26)). Reasoning that a city is a "body politic and corporate, " we confirmed that was "no contradiction" between Wis.Stat. § 133.04 and Wis.Stat. § 990.01(26). Id. at 370-71.

         ¶29 Hyland, Hall & Co. all but disposes of the instant question. As in Hyland, Hall & Co., we are presented with a statute that pertains to "person[s], " defined to include "corporation[s]." As in Hyland, Hall & Co., we have additional guidance from the legislature regarding the definition of the word "person": we should construe that word in the WFDL to include "bodies politic or corporate" "unless such construction would produce a result inconsistent with the manifest intent of the legislature." Wis.Stat. § 990.01(26) .[10] And finally, as in Hyland, Hall & Co., the entity under consideration is the City, a municipal corporation. One of the only differences between Hyland, Hall & Co. and this case is that the City was a plaintiff in the former but finds itself to be a defendant in the latter.

         ¶30 "What is of paramount importance is that [the legislature] be able to legislate against a background of clear interpretive rules, so that it may know the effect of the language it adopts." DOJ v. DWD, 2015 WI 114, ¶47, 365 Wis.2d 694, 875 N.W.2d 545');">875 N.W.2d 545 (alteration in original) (quoting Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 556 (1989), superseded by statute as stated in Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Serv., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 557-58 (2005)). It would be peculiar, to say the least, for us to conclude that the City is a "corporation" and a "person" under the relevant statute in Hyland, Hall & Co. but not in this case. Indeed, Hyland, Hall & Co. and this case both involve chapters of the Wisconsin Statutes-Chapter 133 and Chapter 135, respectively-concerned with the "Regulation of Trade." See Wis.Stat. (Table of Contents) . The reasoning in Hyland, Hall & Co. applies with equal force here, so we simply apply it. See DO J v. DWD, 365 Wis.2d 694, ¶47 (observing that the word "disclose" had been interpreted in a prior case involving a different statute than the one at issue and stating, "[W]e would require a convincing reason indeed to interpret 'disclose' any differently in this context.").

         ¶31 The noscitur a sociis canon of construction does not change our conclusion. That canon provides that "an unclear statutory term should be understood in the same sense as the words immediately surrounding or coupled with it." Wis. Citizens Concerned for Cranes & Doves v. DNR, 2004 WI 40, ¶40, 270 Wis.2d 318, 677 N.W.2d 612. For reasons already discussed, the word "corporation" is not unclear, so we have no need to resort to the canon. But even if we did, the words "natural person, " "partnership, " "joint venture, " and "other entity" do not so plainly evidence legislative exclusion of municipal corporations from the meaning of "corporation" that we may conclude that the City falls outside the WFDL.

A court has no right to resort to the maxim [] of noscitur a sociis . . . for the purpose of reading into a statute a distinction which the legislature neither made nor intended to make. [This] rule[] [is] not the master [] of the courts, but merely their servant [], to aid them in ascertaining the legislative intent. [It] afford[s] a mere suggestion to the judicial mind that, where it clearly appears that the lawmakers were thinking of a particular class of persons or objects, their words of more general description may not have been intended to embrace any other than those within the class.

Boardman v. State, 203 Wis. 173, 176, 233 N.W.2d 556 (1930) (quoting Benson v. Chicago St. P., M. & 0. Ry. Co., 77 N.W. 798, 799 (1899)); see also, e.g., State v. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, ¶35, 308 Wis.2d 615, 748 N.W.2d 447');">748 N.W.2d 447 (concluding that the noscitur a sociis canon did not apply because of a lack of similarity between listed terms); cf. Noffke ex rel. Swenson v. Bakke, 2009 WI 10, ¶27, 315 Wis.2d 350, 760 N.W.2d 156 ("If the legislature intended such a narrow construction, the legislature could have clearly placed such a restriction in the text of the statute.").

         ¶32 Finally, Wis.Stat. § 135.07 must be considered. That section, entitled "Nonapplicability, " lists certain parties to whom the WFDL does not apply. See, e.g., Wis.Stat. § 135.07 ("This chapter does not apply: ... (2) To the insurance business."). Cities are not among those listed. Clearly the legislature recognized the need to circumscribe the WFDL in certain circumstances, and we cannot conclude that the possibility that the WFDL might apply to cities is so farfetched as to have escaped its consideration. "Under the well-established canon of expressio unius est exclusio alterius (the expression of one thing excludes another), where the legislature specifically enumerates certain exceptions to a statute, we conclude, based on that rule, that the legislature intended to exclude any other exception." State v. Delaney, 2003 WI 9, ¶22, 259 Wis.2d 77, 658 N.W.2d 416; cf. Lake City Corp. v. City of Mequon, 207 Wis.2d 155, 171, 558 N.W.2d 100 (1997) ("It is clear that the legislature knew how to accomplish this goal, since it included similar qualifying language in this very same statute.").

         ¶33 In sum, we conclude that the City is a "person" under the WFDL, and that the WFDL therefore applies to it.[11]

         B. Whether the Relationships Between the Golf Pros and the City Are "Dealerships" Under the WFDL

         ¶34 Having concluded that the WFDL applies to the City, we now address whether the relationships between the Golf Pros and the City are "dealerships" under the WFDL. Whether a relationship constitutes a "dealership" under the WFDL is a recurring question for courts, see Bush v. Nat'1 School Studios, Inc., 139 Wis.2d 635, 646, 407 N.W.2d 883, in part because the definition of "dealership" in the WFDL is "both extremely broad and highly nuanced." Baldewein Co. v. Tri-Clover, Inc., 2000 WI 20, ¶12, 233 Wis.2d 57, 606 N.W.2d 145');">606 N.W.2d 145. "In most cases, there is rarely an obvious answer to the question of whether a business is a dealership . . . ." Bush, 139 Wis.2d at 647.

         ¶35 Again, the WFDL defines "dealership" in part as follows:

A contract or agreement, either expressed or implied, whether oral or written, between 2 or more persons, by which a person is granted the right to sell or distribute goods or services, or use a trade name, trademark, service mark, logotype, advertising or other commercial symbol, in which there is a community of interest in the business of offering, selling or distributing goods or services at wholesale, retail, by lease, agreement or otherwise.

Wis. Stat. § 135.02(3) (a) . In determining whether this definition is satisfied, our cases have typically divided the statutory language into three parts: (1) the existence of a contract or agreement between two or more persons; (2) by which a person is granted one of the rights specified; and (3) in which there is the requisite "community of interest." See, e.g., Kania v. Airborne Freight Corp., 99 Wis.2d 746, 763, 300 N.W.2d 63 (1981).

         ¶36 In arguing that a dealership existed in this case, the Golf Pros point to Wis.Stat. § 135.025, which states that Chapter 135 "shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying remedial purposes and policies." § 135.025(1). The statute lists the WFDL's "underlying purposes and policies" as follows:

(a) To promote the compelling interest of the public in fair business relations between dealers and grantors, and in the continuation of dealerships on a fair basis;
(b) To protect dealers against unfair treatment by grantors, who inherently have superior economic power and superior bargaining power in the negotiation of dealerships;
(c) To provide dealers with rights and remedies in addition to those existing by contract or common law;
(d) To govern all dealerships, including any renewals or amendments, to the full extent consistent with the constitutions of this state and the United States.

§ 135.025(2) . Pursuant to established case law, however, the rule of liberal construction set forth in § 135.025(1) does not, generally speaking, apply to the definition of "dealership":

If a relationship is a dealership, the protections afforded the dealer are to be construed and applied liberally to the dealer. But the statute itself undertakes to draw a line to encompass the kinds of enterprises and relationships which are to enjoy such protection. There is no basis upon which the courts can provide that protection to enterprises and relationships which fall without the legislative line."

Kania, 99 Wis.2d at 775 (quoting H. Phillips Co. v. Brown- Forman Distillers Corp., 483 F.Supp. 1289 (W.D. Wis. 1980)); cf. DO J v. DWD, 365 Wis.2d 694, ¶31 ("This policy contains the very language we must interpret in this case. We cannot construe the statute liberally in aid of disclosure of information and protection from retaliatory action for disclosure of information until we know what the terms 'disclosure of information' and 'retaliatory action' mean.").

         ¶37 Returning to the three-part test for the existence of a dealership, we already know that the City, like the Golf Pros, is a "person" under the WFDL. Additionally, the Agreements between the parties are obviously "contract[s] or agreement[s]." Our inquiry thus revolves around whether the other two conditions necessary for the creation of a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.