The attorney general may commence an action in the name of the state to restrain by temporary or permanent injunction a violation of sub. (2) (b)
or to compel a person who has violated sub. (2) (c) 2.
with respect to a target to provide the target with the information specified in sub. (2) (c) 2.
Before entry of final judgment in an action commenced under this subdivision, the court may make any necessary orders to restore to any person any pecuniary loss the person has suffered because of the violation of sub. (2) (b)
or (c) 2.
The attorney general may commence an action in the name of the state to recover a forfeiture to the state of not more than $50,000 for each violation of sub. (2) (b)
or (c) 2.
A target or other person aggrieved because of a violation of sub. (2) (b)
or (c) 2.
may commence an action for the following:
A temporary or permanent injunction restraining a violation of sub. (2) (b)
or compelling a person who has violated sub. (2) (c) 2.
with respect to a target to provide the target with the information specified in sub. (2) (c) 2.
An award of punitive damages not to exceed $50,000 for each violation or 3 times the aggregate amount awarded for all violations under subds. 2.
, whichever is greater.
does not apply to any of the following:
A patent notification of an institution of higher education or of a technology transfer organization that is owned, controlled, or operated by, or associated with, an institution of higher education.
A patent notification of a health care or research institution that has annual expenditures of at least $10,000,000 and that receives federal funding.
A patent notification of an organization that is owned, controlled, or operated by an institution specified in par. (ag)
A patent notification attempting to enforce or assert a right in connection with a patent or pending patent on a device, or a component of that device, that is subject to approval by the federal food and drug administration or the federal department of agriculture.
(5) No limitation of rights and remedies under other law.
Nothing in this section may be construed to limit rights and remedies available to the state or any person under any other law.
History: 2013 a. 339
Methods of competition and trade practices. 100.20(1)(1)
Methods of competition in business and trade practices in business shall be fair. Unfair methods of competition in business and unfair trade practices in business are hereby prohibited.
It is an unfair trade method of competition in business to represent the retailing of merchandise to be a selling-out or closing-out sale if the merchandise is not of a bankrupt, insolvent, assignee, liquidator, adjuster, trustee, personal representative, receiver, wholesaler, jobber, manufacturer, or of any business that is in liquidation, that is closing out, closing, or disposing of its stock, that has lost its lease or has been or is being forced out of business, or that is disposing of stock on hand because of damage by fire, water, or smoke. This subsection does not apply to any “closing-out sale" of seasonal merchandise or any merchandise having a designated model year if the person conducting the sale is continuing in business.
It is an unfair method of competition or an unfair trade practice for any person to sell cigarettes to consumers in this state in violation of s. 139.345
It is an unfair method of competition in business or an unfair trade practice for a person who sells new motor vehicles to compare new motor vehicle selling prices, including the offered prices or the actual sale prices, to the manufacturer's suggested retail price for that vehicle unless it is clearly and conspicuously disclosed that the latter price is a manufacturer's suggested retail price and may not represent actual sale prices.
It is an unfair trade practice for a person to provide any service which the person has the ability to withhold that facilitates or promotes an unfair method of competition in business, an unfair trade practice in business, or any other activity which is a violation of this chapter.
It is an unfair method of competition in business or an unfair trade practice for a person or business entity to violate s. 100.70 (1)
The department, after public hearing, may issue general orders forbidding methods of competition in business or trade practices in business which are determined by the department to be unfair. The department, after public hearing, may issue general orders prescribing methods of competition in business or trade practices in business which are determined by the department to be fair.
Notwithstanding par. (a)
, the department may not issue any order or promulgate any rule that regulates the provision of water or sewer service by a manufactured home community operator, as defined in s. 101.91 (8)
, or manufactured home community contractor, as defined in s. 101.91 (6m)
, or enforce any rule to the extent that the rule regulates the provision of such water or sewer service.
The department, after public hearing, may issue a special order against any person, enjoining such person from employing any method of competition in business or trade practice in business which is determined by the department to be unfair or from providing service in violation of sub. (1t)
. The department, after public hearing, may issue a special order against any person, requiring such person to employ the method of competition in business or trade practice in business which is determined by the department to be fair.
The department of justice may file a written complaint with the department alleging that the person named is employing unfair methods of competition in business or unfair trade practices in business or both. Whenever such a complaint is filed it shall be the duty of the department to proceed, after proper notice and in accordance with its rules, to the hearing and adjudication of the matters alleged, and a representative of the department of justice designated by the attorney general may appear before the department in such proceedings. The department of justice shall be entitled to judicial review of the decisions and orders of the department under ch. 227
Any person suffering pecuniary loss because of a violation by any other person of s. 100.70
or any order issued under this section may sue for damages therefor in any court of competent jurisdiction and shall recover twice the amount of such pecuniary loss, together with costs, including a reasonable attorney fee.
The department may commence an action in circuit court in the name of the state to restrain by temporary or permanent injunction the violation of s. 100.70
or any order issued under this section. The court may in its discretion, prior to entry of final judgment make such orders or judgments as may be necessary to restore to any person any pecuniary loss suffered because of the acts or practices involved in the action, provided proof thereof is submitted to the satisfaction of the court. The department may use its authority in ss. 93.14
to investigate violations of s. 100.70
or any order issued under this section.
See s. 136.001 (2)
concerning future service plans.
See also chs. ATCP 102
, and 139
, Wis. adm. code.
Department of Agriculture rules prohibiting a chain distributor scheme are valid. Unfair practices that may be prohibited are not limited to those affecting competitors. HM Distributors of Milwaukee, Inc. v. Department of Agriculture, 55 Wis. 2d 261
, 198 N.W.2d 598
The elements of misappropriation are: 1) the expenditure of time, labor, or money creating the misappropriated thing; 2) competition; and 3) commercial damage to the plaintiff. Mercury Record Productions, Inc. v. Economic Consultants, Inc., 64 Wis. 2d 163
, 218 N.W.2d 705
The trial court properly relied upon an administrative rule promulgated under sub. (2) in instructing the jury. State v. Clausen, 105 Wis. 2d 231
, 313 N.W.2d 819
The state may join as parties defendant assignees of contracts allegedly obtained by deceptive practices even though the assignees did not engage in deception. State v. Excel Management Services, Inc., 111 Wis. 2d 479
, 331 N.W.2d 312
Attorney fees for successful appellate work are recoverable under sub. (5). Fees are recoverable even when the person is represented at no charge by a legal services organization. Shands v. Castrovinci, 115 Wis. 2d 352
, 340 N.W.2d 506
Sub. (6) does not require a threat of future harm in order to obtain an injunction. State v. Fonk's Mobile Home Park & Sales, Inc., 117 Wis. 2d 94
, 343 N.W.2d 820
(Ct. App. 1983).
A plaintiff-tenant who prevails in an action for the violation of an order under this section is entitled to attorney fees irrespective of the amount of damages the landlord may recover in a counterclaim. Paulik v. Coombs, 120 Wis. 2d 431
, 355 N.W.2d 357
(Ct. App. 1984).
In cases when a landlord complies with the notification requirements and provides an accounting of amounts withheld from a security deposit, an award of double damages under sub. (5) is subject to offset for actual damages to the landlord. A damage award in the amount of double the security deposit, regardless of the landlord's damages, applies when the landlord fails to provide the accounting. Pierce v. Norwick, 202 Wis. 2d 587
, 550 N.W.2d 451
(Ct. App. 1996), 96-0067
The lender liability limits under s. 422.208 (4) do not limit the liability of lenders subject to the Home Improvement Trade Practices Code promulgated under this section. A homeowner may proceed under sub. (5) when there is a violation of the code. If a home improvement was financed by an interlocking consumer loan, full payment before discovering the violations of the code does not eliminate the consumer's cause of action against an assignee of the loan for the total amount that the consumer was obligated for at the time of entering into the contract. Jackson v. DeWitt, 224 Wis. 2d 877
, 592 N.W.2d 262
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-0493
When the plaintiff lost a sale of property as the result of a violation of an administrative rule adopted under sub. (2), it was proper to double the lost sale price of property prior to deducting the market price of the property in setting damages under sub. (5). Benkoski v. Flood, 2001 WI App 84
, 242 Wis. 2d 652
, 626 N.W.2d 851
A contract in violation of an administrative rule adopted under this section does not result in per se unenforceability of the contract. A lease provision requiring a tenant to pay all landlord attorney fees, in violation of a rule, was unenforceable because severing the clause from the remainder of the lease would undermine the goals of eliminating such clauses and preventing the intimidation of tenants that the clauses may cause. Baierl v. McTaggart, 2001 WI 107
, 245 Wis. 2d 632
, 629 N.W.2d 277
, 2001 WI 107
, a lease containing a provision violating an administrative rule is not necessarily void, but rather, may be unenforceable by one or both parties under certain circumstances. While a landlord cannot seek damages for abandonment of a lease that contains a code violation, a tenant who seeks to prospectively enforce the lease waives the tenant's rights pursuant to Baierl
in the event of a breach on the part of the tenant. By seeking to enforce a lease, a tenant reaffirms the terms of the lease and the landlord's reciprocal right to enforce those provisions. Dawson v. Goldammer, 2003 WI App 3
, 259 Wis. 2d 664
, 657 N.W.2d 432
To sue for double damages, costs, and attorney's fees under sub. (5), a party must establish a pecuniary loss because of a violation. Failure to allege any pecuniary loss for an alleged administrative code violation barred recovery under sub. (5). Snyder v. Badgerland Mobile Homes, Inc., 2003 WI App 49
, 260 Wis. 2d 770
, 659 N.W.2d 887
Holding individual wrongdoers accountable is necessary in order to adequately effectuate the purpose behind this section, protecting consumers from unfair dealings. When the corporate veil frustrates the purpose of a statute, it must be assumed that the legislature intended to pierce it. Rayner v. Reeves Custom Builders, Inc., 2004 WI App 231
, 277 Wis. 2d 535
, 691 N.W.2d 705
Nothing in this section or ch. 97 evinces a legislative intent to preclude the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection from declaring, by rule, that a violation of department rules governing food labeling is an unfair trade practice amenable to private enforcement action under sub. (5). Gallego v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2005 WI App 244
, 288 Wis. 2d 229
, 707 N.W.2d 539
Wisconsin Administrative Code ch. ATCP 110, entitled Home Improvement Practices (HIPA), was adopted under authority of this section. Violations are governed by the discovery rule and the six-year statute of limitations under s. 893.93 (1) (b) [now s. 893.93 (1m) (b)]. Sub. (5) authorizes the doubling of an entire damage award, even if a HIPA violation is combined with additional wrongdoing that contributes to the loss in question. A corporate employee may be personally liable for acts in violation of HIPA made on behalf of the corporate entity that employs the employee. Stuart v. Weisflog's Showroom Gallery, Inc., 2008 WI 22
, 308 Wis. 2d 103
, 746 N.W.2d 762
Under sub. (5), a person suffering pecuniary loss because of a violation by any other person of any order issued under this section may sue for damages. Using the common understanding of the term “because of," the “pecuniary loss" is clearly the amount suffered to be paid as a result of the violation of the order. When a general order promulgated under sub. (2) prohibits the retention or receipt of the customer's money, the consumer suffers a pecuniary loss under sub. (5) in the amount that was wrongfully retained or received. Kaskin v. John Lynch Chevrolet-Pontiac Sales, Inc., 2009 WI App 65
, 318 Wis. 2d 802
, 767 N.W.2d 394
A reasonably prudent landlord would be able to understand, by reviewing the relevant statutes and administrative code provisions that, upon withholding some or all of a tenant's security deposit, the landlord may be held criminally liable for failing to provide a tenant with a statement of withholdings. A landlord has sufficient notice that failure to comply with the requirements under s. ATCP 134.06 (4), Wis. Adm. Code, could result in a violation of this section as an unfair business or trade practice and, therefore, could be criminally prosecuted under s. 100.26 (3). The statutory scheme is not void for vagueness and comports with due process in this regard. State v. Lasecki, 2020 WI App 36
, 392 Wis. 2d 807
, 946 N.W.2d 137
A tenant's ability to collect double damages in a civil lawsuit under sub. (5) does not mean that a circuit court can order a landlord to pay a tenant double the tenant's pecuniary loss as restitution in a criminal case under s. 973.20. A primary purpose of restitution is not to punish the defendant, but to compensate the victim for actual loss. In compensating the victim, the goal is to make the victim whole again. In this case, the effect of the court's decision to award as restitution the double damages permitted by sub. (5) was either to punish the landlord or to compensate the tenants for a nonpecuniary injury in violation of s. 973.20. State v. Lasecki, 2020 WI App 36
, 392 Wis. 2d 807
, 946 N.W.2d 137
Allegations that a Department of Agriculture rule prohibiting chain distributor schemes as an unfair trade practice abridged the 1st amendment protection of commercial speech were not so obviously without merit so as to be insubstantial for purposes of the statute requiring hearing and determination by a three-judge court. Holiday Magic, Inc. v. Warren, 497 F.2d 687
Federal law did not preclude the enforcement of this section. Time Warner Cable v. Doyle, 847 F. Supp 635
No private cause of action exists under this section except for violations of a Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection order. Emergency One, Inc. v. Waterous Co., 23 F. Supp. 2d 959
Protection for Consumers Against Unfair and Deceptive Business. Jeffries. 57 MLR 559 (1974).
State Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Acts: Should Wisconsin Lawyers be Susceptible to Liability Under Section 100.20? Anderson. 83 MLR 497 (1999).
Navigating Wisconsin's Consumer Protection System. Greene. Wis. Law. Sept. 2017.
Unfair trade practices in the dairy industry. 100.201(1)(1)
Unless context requires otherwise:
“Broker" means any person engaged in negotiating sales or purchases of selected dairy products for or on behalf of a retailer or wholesaler or both.
“Retailer" means every person making any sale of selected dairy products at retail within this state unless otherwise excepted; provided, that in the case of a person making both sales at retail and sales at wholesale such term shall apply only to the retail portion of such sales. “Retailer" does not include the United States, the state, any municipality as defined in s. 345.05 (1) (c)
, or any religious, charitable or educational organization or institution, but does include any other person engaged in the business of making retail sales wholly or in part for the person's own profit at an institution operated by such an exempt party.
For the purpose of this section any subsidiary or affiliate corporation, limited liability company, cooperative, or unincorporated cooperative association, and any officer, director, partner, member or manager of a corporation, cooperative, unincorporated cooperative association, partnership or limited liability company which is a retailer of selected dairy products, and any individual, corporation, cooperative, unincorporated cooperative association, partnership, limited liability company, association or any other business unit which owns, controls or franchises any retailer or which has any retailer as an affiliate, member or subsidiary, is deemed to be a retailer of selected dairy products and the prohibitions of sub. (2)
shall also apply to any such person or business unit which sells any selected dairy product at wholesale.
Milk, skim milk, fortified milk, flavored milk, flavored skim milk, buttermilk, cream, sour cream, half and half, whipping cream, whipped cream and cottage cheese; and
Ice cream, ice milk, sherbet, custard, water ices, quiescently frozen ices and frozen dessert novelties manufactured from any such products.
The department may by rule, after hearing, designate as selected dairy products such other products derived in whole or in part from milk as it finds necessary to effectuate the purposes of this section.
In no event shall there be designated as selected dairy products any of the following:
Condensed, concentrated or evaporated milk in hermetically sealed containers.
“Sell at retail," “sales at retail" and “retail sales" include any transfer for a valuable consideration made in the course of trade or conduct of the seller's business, of title to tangible personal property to the purchaser for consumption or use other than resale or further processing or manufacturing, and include any transfer of such property where title is retained by the seller as security for the payment of the purchase price.
“Sell at wholesale," “sales at wholesale" and “wholesale sales" include any transfer for a valuable consideration made in the course of trade or conduct of the seller's business, of title to tangible personal property to the purchaser for purposes of resale or further processing or manufacturing, and include any transfer of such property where title is retained by the seller as security for the payment of the purchase price.
“Wholesaler" means every person making sales of selected dairy products at wholesale within this state, unless otherwise excepted; provided, that in the case of a person making both sales at retail and sales at wholesale such term shall apply only to the wholesale portion of such business.
For the purpose of this section any subsidiary or affiliate corporation, limited liability company, cooperative, or unincorporated cooperative association, and any officer, director, partner, member or manager of a corporation, cooperative, unincorporated cooperative association, partnership or limited liability company which is a wholesaler of selected dairy products, is deemed to be a wholesaler of selected dairy products.
This section is applicable to consignment sales and a consignor shall be deemed to be a wholesaler and a consignee to be a retailer for the purposes of this section.
Each of the practices described in this subsection is declared to be an unfair trade practice. It is unlawful for any person to be engaged in such practices. No wholesaler shall:
Give or extend discounts or rebates, directly or indirectly, to retailers or other wholesalers on selected dairy products or give or extend to such purchasers any services connected with the delivery, handling or stocking of such products except in accordance with published price lists. A wholesaler may sell selected dairy products at a price different from or with services less than or additional to those in said published price list in order to meet a bona fide offer by a competitor to a particular retailer or wholesaler, but such discount, rebate or service shall not be given until the wholesaler first makes a written record of the date of such competitive offer, the terms thereof, the name of the retailer or wholesaler to whom made and the name of the competitor by whom made. Such record shall be available within this state for inspection and copying by any retailer or wholesaler upon the retailer's or wholesaler's written request therefor. It is the duty of every wholesaler under this subsection to prepare and publish as hereinafter provided current price lists giving the prices of all selected dairy products sold by the wholesaler at wholesale, directly or indirectly, to retailers or other wholesalers, including all discounts, rebates and services connected with the delivery, handling or stocking of such products, giving the effective dates of such prices, and giving the amount paid or anything of value given or granted by the wholesaler for such sales made through a broker as commission, brokerage, allowance or other compensation. Such price lists shall be available within this state for inspection and copying by any retailer or wholesaler upon the retailer's or wholesaler's written request therefor.
Every wholesaler shall file with the department the address of the wholesaler's principal business office in this state, if any. If a wholesaler has such a principal business address in this state written request for any record or price list required to be made available under this subsection shall be sent to such business office and the information requested shall be made available there. A wholesaler having no principal business office within this state shall file with the department or a designated agent approved by the department such current records or price lists required to be made available under this subsection. Such current records or price lists shall be available for inspection and copying by any retailer or wholesaler upon the retailer's or wholesaler's written request therefor. The failure or refusal of any wholesaler to make available for inspection and copying any record or price list required to be made available under this subsection within 24 hours after a request has been received or to file with the department current records or price lists as required shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this subsection.
In case of the failure or refusal of any wholesaler to make available or file any record or price list as required by this paragraph, any court of record of competent jurisdiction shall, upon a showing of such failure or refusal, and upon notice, order said wholesaler to give to the retailer or wholesaler so requesting, within a specified time, an inspection thereof, with permission to make a copy therefrom, or to file such information with the department.