Monday, January 6, 2014

Melms v. Pabst Brewing Co. case brief

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 that the value of the property was substantially increased by the tenant's acts and dismissed the complaint. The reversioners appealed.

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 constitute waste.
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

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