Nicolet law office
SERVING WI & MN | Calls Answered 24/7 | Free Consultations 866-663-8774
Nicolet Law managing attorney Russell Nicolet

#NicoletKnows Accident & Injury Law

Built on Family.
Focused on Helping.
Dedicated to Winning.

We win or you don’t pay
500 ★★★★★ reviews

Nicolet Law office
CONTACT
SERVING WI & MN | Calls Answered 24/7 | Free Consultations 866-663-8774

St. Croix Lake Cabin Lawsuit Decided by U.S. Supreme Court

Get your free case review

St. Croix Lake Cabin Lawsuit Decided by U.S. Supreme Court

Family cabin close to the shoreline of a Wisconsin lake

A decision has been made in a prolonged lawsuit that wound its way through the highest courts in Wisconsin and landing before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. This June, the highest court in the country agreed with the Wisconsin courts and ruled against a large family.

A beloved vacation cottage in need of repair

Seven siblings received two adjacent lots on the shores of Lake St. Croix as a gift from their parents in the 1990s. A three-bedroom cottage sits on one of the lots and has been in use as the family vacation home since their parents purchased and built on the property in the 1960s. The other lot has always remained vacant.

The siblings decided to remodel the 1960s cottage since it had been flooded a few times and needed extensive upgrades. As none of them had sufficient money for the large project, the decision was made to sell the vacant lot for the needed cash.

Land use regulations at odds with a proposed sale

As most waterfront landowners in Wisconsin know, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), St. Croix County and other governmental agencies impose strict shoreline development and conservation regulations.

When taking into account the slope preservation, floodplain, right of way and wetlands restrictions, it was determined that only .5 acres of the family's vacant parcel was developable. According to state regulations, at least one acre must be developable in order for a new buyer to build on the vacant lot. This reduced the value of the lot, and the siblings decided to fight back.

A convoluted legal dispute

The siblings filed a lawsuit, alleging that the governmental regulations constituted a wrongful use of eminent domain -- a "taking" without just compensation. The government countered, holding the position that the family could have taken advantage of a loophole in the law that would have allowed them to develop the vacant parcel by deeding the two lots to different owners.

Since all of the children owned both lots, the two lots were merged into a single lot by state law. The lawsuit would have turned out differently if some of the siblings were deeded the lot with the cottage and the others the vacant lot.

By concluding that the lots were merged for purposes of development, the court decided in favor of the governmental agencies. The representative for the family before the U.S. Supreme Court stated, "[w]e are disappointed that the court did not recognize the fundamental unfairness to the [family members] of having their separate properties combined, simply to avoid the protection of the Takings Clause."

Why does the ruling matter to other landowners?

The merger issue in the case caught the interest of property rights advocates, state governments, industry groups and legal foundations across the country. Many of the organizations filed paperwork in support of the family's position in the case, hoping that the court would clarify what a 'property' is in the realm of regulatory takings claims. Instead, the majority of the court opined that a number of factors must be considered when treating a property as a single lot or separate parcels.

While many people may feel that the ruling is appropriate to protect and preserve the nation's scenic waterways, others were hoping to gain more protection for personal use of privately owned properties. The court's decision did not create clear guidelines for other owners.

More Than
$0
Million recovered for our clients
over
0
clients helped
More Than
0
years in business
over
0
years of combined experience

SEE HOW NICOLET LAW MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN OUR CLIENTS’ CASES

CAR ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$1,200,000.00

CAR ACCIDENT

Offer before Nicolet Law
$50,000.00

SEMI-TRUCK ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$700,000.00

SEMI-TRUCK ACCIDENT

Offer before Nicolet Law
$75,000.00

SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$180,000.00

SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT

Offer before Nicolet Law
$5,000.00

PEDESTRIAN HIT BY CAR

Result with Nicolet Law 
$1,050,000.00

PEDESTRIAN HIT BY CAR

Offer before Nicolet Law
$0.00 - denial

DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$815,000.00

DRUNK DRIVING VICTIM

Offer before Nicolet Law
$0.00

UTV ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$250,000.00

UTV ACCIDENT

Offer before Nicolet Law
$5,000.00
(click to view results)

What our clients say about us

powered by BirdEye
more testimonials

Awards & Recognitions

Nicolet Law Office is honored to have been nominated for numerous awards for excellence in service and client satisfaction. Our attorneys have appeared in such prestigious lists as Top 40 Under 40 and Rising Stars. While we’re thankful to have the support of industry peers and independent third-party organizations, nothing beats the feeling of gratitude we share with clients when we can make a positive impact on their lives.

From our blog

DEDICATED ATTORNEYS SERVING A COMMUNITY NEAR YOU

Contact us today to request a free case evaluation with a dedicated local attorney. With twelve convenient office locations throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, accessing award-winning legal services has never been easier. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from traveling, we would be happy to meet you at your home or schedule a private virtual consultation.

FOLLOW US

Tell us about your case

We’ll review your case details and contact you with an action plan.
Fields marked with an * are required

12 locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota to serve you

Wisconsin State Icon

Wisconsin Locations:

EAU CLAIRE:

402 Graham Ave.
Suite 305
Eau Claire, WI 54701

Phone: 715-226-4155
Map & Directions

HUDSON:

517 2nd Street
Unit #205
Hudson, WI 54016

Phone: 715-226-4155
Map & Directions

LA CROSSE:

119 N 19th St S
La Crosse, WI 54601

Phone: 715-226-4155
Map & Directions

NEW RICHMOND:

1500 Madison Ave.
Suite 220
New Richmond, WI 54017

Phone: 715-226-4155
Map & Directions

RICE LAKE:
337 North Main Street
Rice Lake, WI 54868

Phone: 715-226-4155
Map & Directions

RIVER FALLS
215 S 2nd St #20
River Falls, WI 54022

Phone: 715-226-4155
Map & Directions

SUPERIOR:
1200 Tower Ave.
Superior, WI 54880

Phone: 715-226-4155
Map & Directions

WAUSAU:
408 3rd Street
Suite 303
Wausau, WI 54403

Phone: 715-226-4155
Map & Directions

Minnesota State Icon

Minnesota Locations:

DULUTH:
306 West Superior Street,
Suite 606 West
Duluth, MN 55802

Phone: 651-427-3331
Map & Directions

HIBBING:
Howard Court Bldg.
302 Howard Street, Suite 123
Hibbing, MN 55746

Phone: 651-427-3331
Map & Directions

MINNEAPOLIS:
225 South 6th Street
Suite 3900
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Phone: 651-427-3331
Map & Directions

WOODBURY:
724 Bielenberg Drive
Suite 126
Woodbury, MN 55125

Phone: 651-427-3331
Map & Directions

Wisconsin and Minnesota’s Local Award-Winning Injury and Disability Attorneys.
© 2021 Nicolet Law Office, S.C.. All Rights Reserved.
cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram