It’s a crass headline, but it isn’t every day that I can use one like it! The Wisconsin Supreme Court screens which cases it will review each year. Two cases involving manure and waste products will be coming before the Court for review.
You may remember a past posting of mine about the difference between bat guano and cow manure. In Wilson Mutual Ins. Co. v. Falk, a court of appeals ruled that a farmer who spread cow manure on field and polluted local water supplies was entitled to insurance coverage because the manure was not a “pollutant” which would have prevented coverage. Yes, the cow manure case is up for review by the Supreme Court.
The second case, Priesler v. Kuettel’s Septic Service, L.L.C. involves a farm family that also operated a septic business. The septic business, at the request of the Priesler family, applied human septage (waste) to the Priesler’s farm property. As in the other case, the water supply was contaminated and an unknown number of the Prisler’s cows got sick or died. Preislers sued Kuettels and the Kuettels turned to their insurance company to handle the suit. The insurance company, relying on the ever-growing area of court opinions about shit, argued they had no obligation to cover the damages or defend the Kuettels because septage is a “pollutant” under their policy. The local trial court agreed with the insurance company and ruled that septage is a “pollutant.” The Court of Appeals agreed finding that septage is clearly a “pollutant.”
In light of the conflicting opinion in the cow manure case, the Supreme Court has decided to take on both cases to hopefully bring some resolution to this issue. Each case is in the briefing stage right now, which means the parties get a chance to put their arguments on paper for the Court Justices to review. Hearings have not been scheduled. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, if you’d like to follow the cases, a link to the Wisconsin Court System records are above. From those links you can learn about the parties, upcoming deadlines, and if you click on the “Case History” button on the right-hand side, you can even read the submitted briefs.
Johanna R Kirk; Kirk Law Office, LLC