• Cermele & Matthews, S.C.
  • 6310 West Bluemound Road
  • Suite 200
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin  53213
  • 414.276.8750
  • Fax: 414.276.8906

Notable Decisions

SignatureWISCONSIN DECISIONS

  • Wisconsin Supreme Court
    • Milwaukee Police Ass'n V. Hegerty, 2005 WI 28, 279 Wis.2d 150, 693 N.W.2d 738
      The case ensured timely payment of more than $700,000 in over-time payments. The Supreme Court held that the employer was required to pay wages in a timely fashion, and was bound by the 12 day frequency of payment bargained for in the collective bargaining agreement, rather than the 31 day maximum frequency set by statute.
    • Cole V. Hubanks, 2004 WI 74, 272 Wis.2d 539, 681 N.W.2d 147
      This case ensured that law enforcement officers could pursue personal injury claims for duty-related injuries. A law enforcement officer was attacked by a large dog, injuring her so badly that she required 30 stitches to her face and neck. The dog owner and its insurance carrier attempted to escape liability by relying on the Firefighter's Rule, a doctrine that prevents firefighters from suing homeowners for injuries caused by the very fire they were sent to fight. The Supreme Court held that the Firefighter's Rule could not apply to prevent an injured law enforcement officer from suing a negligent party for duty-related injuries.
    • Oddsen v. Bd. of Fire & Police Comm'rs for the City of Milwaukee, 108 Wis.2d 143, 321 N.W.2d 161 (1982)
      Often considered Wisconsin's seminal case on an officer's rights under Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967), the Supreme Court held that the statements of law enforcement officers in a criminal adultery investigation were inadmissible as coerced, involuntary, the result of denial of due process, and contrary to fundamental principles of fair play and due process.
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court (Amicus)
    • Antisdel V. City Of Oak Creek Fire & Police Comm'n. 2000 WI 35, 234 Wis.2d 154, 609 N.W.2d 657
      The issue was whether a police officer who had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant (contingent on successful completion of a one-year probationary period) was entitled to a "just cause" hearing before the Police & Fire Commission, when the Chief had demanded demotion. The Supreme Court held that the officer was entitled to a "just cause" trial because he was reduced in rank.
    • State V. Brockdorf, 2006 WI 76, 291 Wis.2d 635, 717 N.W.2d 657
      The Supreme Court adopted a two-pronged subjective/objective test for determining whether a law enforcement officer's statements in a criminal investigation were coerced and involuntary, and therefore subject to suppression under Garrity v. New Jersey. The Supreme Court concluded that an officer must subjectively believe he will be fired for refusing to give a statement, and that such belief must be objectively reasonable under the circumstances.
  • Wisconsin Court Of Appeals
    • Sliwinski V. Bd. Of Fire & Police Comm'rs For The City Of Milwaukee, 2006 WI App 27, 289 Wis.2d 422, 711 N.W.2d 271, ("Sliwinski I")
      The Court of Appeals held that the Fire & Police Commission had denied a police detective his constitutional due process rights, when it refused to allow him to fully confront the witnesses and evidence against him, and thereby denied him access to potential evidence which might have corroborated his assertions of innocence.
    • Milwaukee Police Association, et al v. City of Milwaukee, 2008 WI App 119, Wis.2nd, N.W.2d, ("Sliwinski II")
      In the "sequel" to Sliwinski I, the Court of Appeals berated the City of Milwaukee for its refusal to: 1) pay Sliwinski wages and benefits (which he had demanded following the Sliwinski I decision), and; 2) conduct the hearing ordered in Sliwinski I. The Court reiterated that Sliwinski was entitled to a fair hearing that comported with fundamental notions of fair play and due process, and confirmed that, until such time as the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners actually conducted such a hearing, Sliwinski remained entitled to wages and benefits the same as any other officer whose appeal from discipline was pending before the Board. The bottom line - Because of its repeated due process violations, the City is now on the hook for more than 4 years of wages and benefits.
    • State of Wisconsin Ex Rel, v. Clarke, 2006 WI App 186, 296 Wis.2d 210, 723 N.W.2d 141
      The Court of Appeals confirmed that the Milwaukee County Sheriff does not have the authority to ignore an order by the Civil Service Commission/Personnel review Board, simply because he disagreed with it.
    • State of Wisconsin Ex Rel., V. Jones, 2000 WI App 146, 237 Wis.2d 840, 615 N.W.2d 190
      The Court of Appeals determined that the City of Milwaukee and its Police Chief failed to comply with the State's Open Records law, as a result of refusing to grant the Milwaukee Police Association's request to examine and copy a digital version of a 911 call.
    • Parker v. Jones, 226 Wis.2d 310, 595 N.W.2d 92 (Wis. App. 1999)
      The Court of Appeals held that suspensions arising out of the same underlying incident must be aggregated for purposes of determining whether the suspension exceeded five days and was thus subject to a "just cause" trial before the Fire & Police Commission.
  • Milwaukee County Circuit Court
  • Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (Werc)
    • Brown County, Dec. No. 31367-E (Emery, 3/07) (pending on appeal to WERC)
      The employer committed several prohibited practices when it retaliated against an employee and the union after a union Board Member had used aggressive bargaining tactics during a bargaining session for a successor agreement.
    • Milwaukee County, MA-13322 (Emery, 11/06)
      The employer violated the collective bargaining agreement by failing to offer an overtime assignment to the most senior deputy on the shift. Therefore, the employer was required to pay that deputy at the overtime rate for the shift.
    • Milwaukee County, Dec. No. 31428-B (WERC 10/06)
      The employer committed a prohibited practice by retaliating against an employee for having spoken out on behalf of himself and his union at a Civil Service Commission meeting. The employer was required to rescind the adverse action, make the employee whole in all respects, and sign a letter promising not to retaliate any further.
    • Brown County, Dec. No. 31367-C (WERC 11/05)
      In the context of a prohibited practice complaint filed by the union against the employer, the County attempted to subpoena the notes of the Association's attorneys. The Association moved to protect the notes on the basis of attorney-client privilege and the attorney work-product doctrine. The Commission created a three-step balancing test to resolve the matter. (1) Do the subpoenaed documents contain confidential information that was not previously disclosed through testimony or in open negotiations session? (2) If so, is that information relevant / material to the issues in the case (including the credibility of witnesses)? (3) If so, the Examiner must determine whether the employer's need for the evidence outweighs the Association's interests in keeping it confidential, especially those portions that reflect strategic information or thought processes. Where the parties' interests are roughly equal, the Examiner must err on the side of serving the interests of justice and the purposes of the Municipal Employment Relations Act.
    • Milwaukee County, MA-12564 (Burns, 11/04)
      The employer only had "just cause" to suspend the employee for 3 days, not 10 days. Therefore, the employer was required to make the employee whole for the 7 day difference.

FEDERAL DECISIONS

  • Seventh Circuit Court Of Appeals
    • Fuerst v. Clarke, 454 F.3d 770 (7th Cir. 2006) ("FUERST I")
      The employer could not escape liability for First Amendment retaliation under the Policymaker/Patronage exception to normal First Amendment liability.
    • Milwaukee Police Ass'n v. Jones, 192 F.3d 742 (7th Cir. 1999)
      The employer could not escape liability for First Amendment retaliation under the Policymaker/Patronage exception to normal First Amendment liability.
  • United States District Court,
    Eastern District Of Wisconsin
    • Zidek and Sino v. Clarke, Bailey and Milwaukee County Case No. 06C602
      The employer violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause by inviting a religious organization to make presentations at mandatory employee meetings (roll calls and a leadership conference). The Court held that the employer used the "coercive power of government" to unlawfully endorse and promote a specific religious organization and its message to a captive audience of employees.
    • Fuerst v. Clarke, Case No. 04C0295 (unpublished) ("FUERST II")
      The employer refused to promote a law enforcement officer to the rank of Sergeant in retaliation for his having exercised his First Amendment rights to free speech and free association with his union.