Monday, November 11, 2013

Vogel v. Grant-Lafayette Electric Cooperative case brief

Vogel v. Grant-Lafayette Electric Cooperative case brief summary
548 N.W.2d 829 (Wis. 1996)

Plaintiff dairy farmers challenged the decision of the Court of Appeals (Wisconsin), reversing in part a judgment in their favor for damages caused by stray voltage from electricity distributed by defendant electric cooperative and directing the trial court to strike the damages awarded for annoyance and inconvenience attributed to nuisance. The dairy farmers had filed suit against the electric cooperative on theories of negligence and nuisance.


Three issues were presented for review by the dairy farmers: (1) whether the doctrine of private nuisance applied to stray voltage claims; (2) whether the trial court erred in refusing to submit the nuisance question to the jury on an intentional invasion theory; and (3) whether damages for annoyance and inconvenience were recoverable in negligence, even if they were not recoverable under a private nuisance theory.


  • The court concluded that private nuisance was a viable cause of action under the facts of the case. The dairy farmers request for electric service itself did not negate the invasion element of nuisance. 
  • While the dairy farmers requested electric service, they did not request excessive stray voltage to flow through their farm. 
  • The court further concluded that because the stray voltage constituted an unintentional invasion and was otherwise actionable under negligence, the trial court properly considered the dairy farmers' contributory negligence when it reduced the total damage award.


The court reversed that portion of the appellate court's decision directing the trial court to strike the nuisance-related damages from the judgment.

Suggested Study Aids For Tort Law

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