Vogel v. Grant-Lafayette Electric Cooperative

Wisconsin Supreme Court

548 N.W.2d 829 (Wis. 1996)

Any non-trespassory invasion of another’s interest in the private use and enjoyment of land constitutes a private nuisance.

Relevant Facts

Dale and Alice Vogel (the plaintiffs) were dairy farmers who received their electrical supply for their dairy farm from Grant-Lafayette Electric Cooperative (the defendant). After the plaintiffs built a new milking facility, they noticed many of their cows started acting strange and suffered from diseases. The plaintiffs suspected that their cows were being impacted by stray voltage from the defendant’s transformer. The plaintiffs contacted the defendant about the problem, and the defendants responded by installing an isolator at its transformer. The health and behavior of the cows improved thereafter. The plaintiffs sued, alleging negligence and nuisance for the annoyance and inconvenience caused by the defendant’s transformer. The jury found that the defendant had been negligent and that it had created a nuisance.

At trial, the jury found GLEC was negligent and had created a nuisance and awarded the plaintiffs $240,000 for the negligence and $60,000 for the nuisance. Additionally, the jury found the plaintiffs one-thirds contributorily negligent. Accordingly, the trial judge entered a verdict awarding the plaintiffs $200,000, and both parties appealed. The appellate court held that the defendant did not create a private nuisance and struck out the $60,000 damages award. The plaintiffs appealed.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 12, 2020

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Procedural History

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Citations

548 N.W.2d 829 (Wis. 1996)