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Stipulation to finding of contempt and purge conditions precludes appeal

Town of Stettin v. Hoeppner, Appeal No. 2103AP1201, 3/11/14, District 3 (1-judge, ineligible for publication); case activity

The Hoeppners found themselves on the wrong side of an action seeking judicial enforcement of certain town ordinances.  When they settled the case, they stipulated to a finding that they were in contempt and to the conditions they had to perform in order to purge the contempt.  Then they failed to purge their contempt, so the court imposed monetary penalties and authorized the Town to remove property from the Hoeppner’s premises.  Naturally, the Hoeppners objected and claimed the circuit court failed to determine whether (a) they could satisfy the purge conditions, and (b) they had purged their contempt.  The court of appeals held that the settlement agreement precluded both arguments:

We conclude the Hoeppners are precluded from arguing the court failed to ensure they would be able to meet the purge conditions.  The Hoeppners stipulated to the court’s finding of contempt and agreed to the purge conditions in the court’s September 24, 2010 order.  See Racine Cnty., 122 Wis. 2d at 437 (On appeal, “‘[one] cannot be heard to complain of an act to which he [or she] deliberately consents.’” (citation omitted)).  The Hoeppners cannot now argue they were unable to meet the conditions. Slip op. at  ¶14.

First, . . . the Hoeppners agreed to the order that automatically authorized the Town to enter the Hoeppners’ premises after June 24 to remove the property.  The Hoeppners do not address the court’s finding or reasoning on appeal.  See Schlieper v. DNR, 188 Wis. 2d 318, 322, 525 N.W.2d 99 (Ct. App. 1994) (ignoring ground upon which circuit court ruled constitutes concession of the holding’s validity).  Second, and in any event, after the Hoeppners made this argument in the circuit court, the court also found the Hoeppners did not comply with its order and remove the property before June 24.  The Hoeppners do not address the court’s finding on appeal.  See id.  We will not consider their argument further.  Slip op. at ¶16.


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