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City of Milwaukee Post No. 2874 Veterans of Foreign Wars v. Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiffs are suing defendants for compensation of a property that was condemned while plaintiffs were the only occupants.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    If a property has no value, the government can condemn the property without compensation to the leaseholder.

    Facts.

    The Plaintiffs Veterans of Foreign Wars entered a 99-year lease agreement with Towne Metropolitan, requiring an annual rent of $1. Later the property was sold to Marquette University who sold the property to Maharishi Vedic University. Defendant Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee offered plaintiffs $440,000 to condemn the property in 2001. The trial court circuit court awarded $300,000 to plaintiff and $140,000 to the defendant for the taking. Plaintiffs appealed. The circuit court ordered plaintiffs to return the award. Plaintiffs appealed. The court of appeals reversed.

    Issue.

    If a property has no value, can the government condemn the property without compensation to the leaseholder?

    Held.

    Yes. The decision of the court of appeals is reversed.

    Dissent.

    The holding is unjust. The exception to the unit rule should have been applied. The court should value the leasehold interest separately from the rest of the property to adequately compensate the plaintiffs.

    Concurrence.

    The facts of the case are unfortunate but the court cannot decide the case off of sympathy.

    Discussion.

    In this case, plaintiffs assumed the risk of the agreement’s lack of condemnation protection. There is no evidence that the value of the building decreased because the defendant intentionally allowed the building to deteriorate.


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