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Restitution – Limitations – Exercise of Discretion: Reimbursement to Insurance Company

State v. Alberto Fernandez, 2009 WI 29, on certification
For Fernandez: Eileen A. Hirsch, Shelley M. Fite, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue/Holding:

¶61      Fernandez says the court erred by ordering full restitution to two insurance companies because a court is authorized to do so only where justice requires. Fernandez says that justice does not require a man who washes dishes for a living to reimburse insurance companies worth billions of dollars. The State points out that restitution is a discretionary decision of the circuit court and that the statute permits restitution to insurance companies. [31]

¶62      It is within the court’s discretion to award restitution to insurers. Evidence was submitted as to the costs which both insurers had borne for the victims. [32] The circuit court appears to have applied the correct legal standard and to have arrived at a logical interpretation of the facts in ordering restitution from Fernandez. The defendant’s ability to pay was clearly considered by the circuit court. Such an award should not be reversed. There is no evidence that the court applied the wrong legal standard or did not ground its decision on a logical interpretation of the facts when it decided justice required reimbursing an insurer who has compensated a victim for a loss.

 

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