37 Wis.2d 285
SYNOPSIS: Appellant tenants challenged a judgment by the Circuit Court for Milwaukee County (Wisconsin), which reduced a jury award of compensatory damages for the tenants and denied the tenants punitive damages in their breach of contract action against appellee landlords.
-Tenants filed a breach of contract action against their landlords, alleging that the landlords did not provide an adequate water supply in their home.
-A jury awarded the tenants $ 10 in actual damages.
-The trial court, however, reduced the award to $ 1.
-The tenants argued that they were entitled to the entire $ 10 as well as punitive damages.
-The court agreed in part and disagreed in part.
-The court held that the tenants were entitled to $ 10 because that figure was the actual damages determined by the jury and the trial court should not have disturbed that finding
-The court, however, held that the tenants were not entitled to punitive damages because punitive damages were not recoverable in breach of contract actions.
-In some cases where a breach of contractual duty led to a tort violation, punitive damages could be available.
-However, the court stated that because no tort was pled or proven by the tenants, they were not entitled to punitive damages.
OUTCOME: The court affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's judgment in the tenants' breach of contract action. The trial court erred in reducing the actual damages amount determined by the jury. The tenants were not entitled to punitive damages because punitive damages were not recoverable in breach of contract actions.
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