Melms v. Pabst Brewing Co. case brief summary 79 N.W. 738 (1899)
Plaintiff reversioners filed an action
for waste against defendant life estate tenant for the destruction of
a home upon the land and the grading of the home down to street
level. The reversioners sought double damages under Wisconsin Statute §3176 (1898). The Circuit Court for Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) found
thatthe value of the property was substantially increased by the tenant's
acts and dismissed the complaint. The reversioners appealed.
CASE FACTS The subject property became valueless
for the purpose of residence property resulting from the city's growth and
development. Business and manufacturing interests
advanced, eventually surrounding the home, until it stood isolated and alone,
standing upon just enough ground to support it. The home was surrounded by
factories and railway tracks, was absolutely undesirable as a residence
and incapable of any use as business property.
The decision of the trial court was affirmed.
The court found that there was no contract
between the life tenant and the reversioners to use the property for
a specified purpose or to return the property in the same condition as received.
In the absence of any contract, express or implied, the radical and
permanent change of the surrounding conditions was an important and
controlling consideration in the court's ruling that the life
tenant's physical change in the use of the property did not
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Suggested law school study materials
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