CLAIMS AGAINST GOVERNMENTAL BODIES,
OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES;
Claims against governmental bodies or officers, agents or employees; notice of injury; limitation of damages and suits.
Claims against state employees; notice of claim; limitation of damages.
Damages caused by accumulation of snow or ice; liability of city, village, town, and county.
STATUTES OF LIMITATION; ACTIONS BY THE STATE, STATUTORY LIABILITY AND MISCELLANEOUS ACTIONS
Action concerning old-age assistance lien.
Action concerning recovery of legal fees paid for indigents.
General limitation of action in favor of the state.
Action for injury resulting from improvements to real property.
Real estate appraisers; limitations of actions.
Bond; campaign financing; lobbying.
Action for expenses related to a forest fire.
Action for contribution.
Action for certain damages related to mining.
Organized crime control; civil remedies.
Unclaimed property; civil remedies.
Family leave and medical leave; civil remedies.
Bone marrow and organ donation leave; civil remedies.
Business closing notification.
Cessation of health care benefits notification.
Home care consumer notification.
Ch. 893 Note
NOTE: See the note at the end of this chapter containing indexes to statutes outside this chapter that impose time restrictions on asserting a claim or cause of action and statutes outside this chapter that govern claims against governmental entities.
COMMENCEMENT, COMPUTATION, ACTION IN NON-WISCONSIN FORUM AND MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
Civil actions; objection as to time of commencing.
Civil actions may be commenced only within the periods prescribed in this chapter, except when, in special cases, a different limitation is provided by statute. An objection that the action was not commenced within the time limited may only be taken by answer or motion to dismiss under s. 802.06 (2)
in proper cases.
Sup. Ct. Order, 67 Wis. 2d 585, 770 (1975); 1979 c. 323
Judicial Council Committee's Note, 1979: This section remains from previous ch. 893 and is revised only for purposes of textual clarity. [Bill 326-A]
Estoppel can be invoked to preclude a defense based on a statute of limitations when a defendant has been guilty of fraudulent or inequitable conduct. The conduct need not constitute actual fraud, but may be equivalent to a representation upon which the plaintiff may have relied to the plaintiff's disadvantage by not commencing the plaintiff's action within the statutory period. That conduct must have occurred before the expiration of the limitation period with no unreasonable delay by the aggrieved party after the inducement therefor has ceased to operate. State ex rel. Susedik v. Knutson, 52 Wis. 2d 593
, 191 N.W.2d 23
A court has no authority to enlarge the time in which to file a complaint. Pulchinski v. Strnad, 88 Wis. 2d 423
, 276 N.W.2d 781
When a limitation period would otherwise expire on a legal holiday, s. 990.001 (4) (b) permits the commencement of an action on the next secular day. Cuisinier v. Sattler, 88 Wis. 2d 654
, 277 N.W.2d 776
Statutes of limitations are substantive statutes and are not given retroactive effect. Betthauser v. Medical Protective Co., 172 Wis. 2d 141
, 493 N.W.2d 40
A circuit court may use its equitable powers to set aside a statute of limitations if certain enumerated circumstances are present. Williams v. Kaerek Builders, Inc., 212 Wis. 2d 150
, 568 N.W.2d 313
(Ct. App. 1997), 96-2396
The primary reason for applying equitable estoppel to bar a defendant from asserting the statute of limitations is when the conduct and representations of the defendant were so unfair and misleading as to outbalance the public's interest in setting a limitation on bringing actions. Wosinski v. Advance Cast Stone Co., 2017 WI App 51
, 377 Wis. 2d 596
, 901 N.W.2d 797
A defendant was estopped from pleading the statute of limitations by fraudulent conduct that prevented the plaintiff from filing a timely suit. Bell v. City of Milwaukee, 746 F.2d 1205
Remedying the Confusion Between Statutes of Limitations and Statutes of Repose in Wisconsin—A Conceptual Guide. La Fave. 88 MLR 927 (2005).
Action, when commenced.
Except as provided in s. 893.415 (3)
, an action is commenced, within the meaning of any provision of law which limits the time for the commencement of an action, as to each defendant, when the summons naming the defendant and the complaint are filed with the court, but no action shall be deemed commenced as to any defendant upon whom service of authenticated copies of the summons and complaint has not been made within 90 days after filing.
Sup. Ct. Order, 67 Wis. 2d 585, 770 (1975); 1975 c. 218
; 1979 c. 323
; 1997 a. 187
; 2003 a. 287
Judicial Council Committee's Note, 1979: This section is previous s. 893.39 of the statutes renumbered for more logical placement in restructured ch. 893. [Bill 326-A]
In a products liability action, a new cause of action for punitive damages brought after the statute of limitations expired related back to the date of filing the original pleading. Wussow v. Commercial Mechanisms, Inc., 97 Wis. 2d 136
, 293 N.W.2d 897
An action against an unnamed defendant under s. 807.12 that was filed on the last day of a limitation period, in which amended process naming the defendant was served within 60 days after filing, was not time barred. The relation back requirements of s. 802.09 (3) were inapplicable. Lak v. Richardson-Merrell, Inc., 100 Wis. 2d 641
, 302 N.W.2d 483
Service of process did not commence an action when the plaintiff failed to file the summons and complaint. The defendant's answer did not waive the statute of limitations defense or estop the defendant from raising it after the limitation period expired. Hester v. Williams, 117 Wis. 2d 634
, 345 N.W.2d 426
A fictitiously designated defendant's right to extinction of an action does not effectively vest until 60 days after the statute of limitations runs. Lavine v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 140 Wis. 2d 434
, 410 N.W.2d 623
(Ct. App. 1987).
Timely Service Abroad in Diversity Suits. La Fave. Wis. Law. Nov. 2000.
The presentation of any claim, in cases where by law such presentment is required, to the circuit court shall be deemed the commencement of an action within the meaning of any law limiting the time for the commencement of an action thereon.
History: 1977 c. 449
; 1979 c. 323
Judicial Council Committee's Note, 1979: This section is previous s. 893.41 renumbered for more logical placement in restructured ch. 893. [Bill 326-A]
A statute of limitations is not tolled by filing an action in a court completely lacking jurisdiction and later refiling in the proper court after the statute has run. Schafer v. Wegner, 78 Wis. 2d 127
, 254 N.W.2d 193
Computation of period within which action may be commenced.
Unless otherwise specifically prescribed by law, a period of limitation within which an action may be commenced is computed from the time that the cause of action accrues until the action is commenced.
History: 1979 c. 323
Judicial Council Committee's Note, 1979:
Previous section 893.48 is repealed and sections 893.04 and 893.14 created for the purpose of clarity. See Denzer v. Rouse, 48 Wis. 2d 528
, 180 N.W.2d 521
(1970) for a discussion of when a cause of action accrues, citing Holifield v. Setco Industries, Inc. 42 Wis. 2d 750
, 168 N.W.2d 177
(1969). [Bill 326-A]
In attorney malpractice actions, as in medical malpractice cases, when the date of the negligence and the date of injury are the same, the statute of limitations runs from that date, for that is the time when the cause of action accrues. Denzer v. Rouse, 48 Wis. 2d 528
, 180 N.W.2d 521
The loss of the right to a patent is the loss of the right to exclude others, and, therefore, the injury occurred on the date that the right to the patent was lost. Boehm v. Wheeler, 65 Wis. 2d 668
, 223 N.W.2d 536
Because s. 67.11 requires moneys in a sinking fund to remain inviolate until the bonds are retired, a cause of action regarding the fund could only accrue at retirement. Joint School District No. 1 v. City of Chilton, 78 Wis. 2d 52
, 253 N.W.2d 879
A tort claim accrues when the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. This “discovery rule" applies to all tort actions other than those governed by a statutory discovery rule. Hansen v. A.H. Robins Co., 113 Wis. 2d 550
, 335 N.W.2d 578
When the plaintiff's early subjective lay person's belief that a furnace caused the injury was contradicted by examining physicians, the cause of action against the furnace company did not accrue until the plaintiff's suspicion was confirmed by later medical diagnosis. Borello v. U.S. Oil Co., 130 Wis. 2d 397
, 388 N.W.2d 140
Claimed ignorance of, and a blatant failure to follow, applicable regulations cannot be construed as reasonable diligence in discovering an injury when following the rules would have resulted in earlier discovery. Stroh Die Casting Co. v. Monsanto Co., 177 Wis. 2d 91
, 502 N.W.2d 132
(Ct. App. 1993).
The day upon which a cause of action accrues is not included in computing the period of limitation. Pufahl v. Williams, 179 Wis. 2d 104
, 506 N.W.2d 747
The discovery rule does not allow a plaintiff to delay the statute of limitations until the extent of the injury is known. The statute begins to run when the plaintiff has sufficient evidence that a wrong has been committed by an identified person. Pritzlaff v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee, 194 Wis. 2d 302
, 533 N.W.2d 780
A plaintiff can rely on the discovery rule only if the plaintiff has exercised reasonable diligence. Jacobs v. Nor-Lake, Inc., 217 Wis. 2d 625
, 579 N.W.2d 254
(Ct. App. 1998), 97-1740
The discovery rule applies to statutes of limitations that limit the time to sue from the time when the action “accrues," being the time of discovery. The discovery rule does not apply to a statute of repose, a statute that specifies the time of accrual and limits the time suit can be brought from that specified date. Tomczak v. Bailey, 218 Wis. 2d 245
, 578 N.W.2d 166
Knowing that a particular product caused an injury, an injured party cannot extend the accrual date for a cause of action against the product's manufacturer due to the subsequent discovery of possible connections between that product and another manufacturer's product in causing the injury. Baldwin v. Badger Mining Corp., 2003 WI App 95
, 264 Wis. 2d 301
, 663 N.W.2d 382
The discovery rule permits the accrual of both survival claims and wrongful death claims to occur after the date of the decedent's death. In the absence of a legislatively created rule to the contrary, these claims accrue when there is a claim capable of present enforcement, a suable party against whom it may be enforced, and a party who has a present right to enforce it. Christ v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 2015 WI 58
, 362 Wis. 2d 668
, 866 N.W.2d 602
Discovery occurs when the plaintiff has information that would constitute the basis for an objective belief as to the plaintiff's injury and its cause. The degree of certainty that constitutes sufficient knowledge is variable, depending on the particular facts and circumstances of the plaintiff. With corporate players, a different quantum of expertise and knowledge is in play. Wisconsin courts have recognized that ignorance is a less compelling excuse for corporate enterprises in the context of the discovery rule. KDC Foods, Inc. v. Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A., 763 F.3d 743
Computing Time in Tort Statutes of Limitation. Ghiardi. 64 MLR 575 (1981).
Computing Time in Statutes of Limitation. Ghiardi. Wis. Law. Mar. 1993.
Relation of statute of limitations to right and remedy.
When the period within which an action may be commenced on a Wisconsin cause of action has expired, the right is extinguished as well as the remedy.
History: 1979 c. 323
Judicial Council Committee's Note, 1979:
This new section is a codification of Wisconsin case law. See Maryland Casualty Company v. Beleznay, 245 Wis. 390, 14 N.W.2d 177
(1944), in which it is stated at page 393: “In Wisconsin the running of the statute of limitations absolutely extinguishes the cause of action for in Wisconsin limitations are not treated as statutes of repose. The limitation of actions is a right as well as a remedy, extinguishing the right on one side and creating a right on the other, which is as of high dignity as regards judicial remedies as any other right and it is a right which enjoys constitutional protection". [Bill 326-A]
The expiration of the limitations period extinguishes the cause of action of the potential plaintiff and it also creates a right enjoyed by the would-be defendant to insist on that statutory bar. A defendant, having acquired a right to assert the statute of limitations bar by operation of law, would suffer plain legal prejudice if a plaintiff's motion for voluntary dismissal were granted. Wojtas v. Capital Guardian Trust Co., 477 F.3d 924
Application of foreign statutes of limitation. 893.07(1)(1)
If an action is brought in this state on a foreign cause of action and the foreign period of limitation which applies has expired, no action may be maintained in this state.
If an action is brought in this state on a foreign cause of action and the foreign period of limitation which applies to that action has not expired, but the applicable Wisconsin period of limitation has expired, no action may be maintained in this state.
History: 1979 c. 323
Judicial Council Committee's Note, 1979: Sub. (1) applies the provision of s. 893.05 that the running of a statute of limitations extinguishes the right as well as the remedy to a foreign cause of action on which an action is attempted to be brought in Wisconsin in a situation where the foreign period has expired. Sub. (1) changes the law of prior s. 893.205 (1), which provided that a resident of Wisconsin could sue in this state on a foreign cause of action to recover damages for injury to the person even if the foreign period of limitation had expired.
Sub. (2) applies the Wisconsin statute of limitations to a foreign cause of action if the Wisconsin period is shorter than the foreign period and the Wisconsin period has run. [Bill 326-A]
The borrowing statute was properly applied to an injury received outside of this state. A conflict of laws analysis was not appropriate. Guertin v. Harbour Assurance Co. of Bermuda, 141 Wis. 2d 622
, 415 N.W.2d 831
Section 893.16 (1) is effective to toll the running of the statute of limitations, even when under this section the plaintiff would be barred from bringing suit under applicable foreign law. Scott v. First State Insurance Co., 155 Wis. 2d 608
, 456 N.W.2d 152
This section is applicable to actions on contracts. A claim is foreign when the final significant event giving rise to a suable event, the alleged breach, occurs outside the state. Abraham v. General Casualty Co. of Wisconsin, 217 Wis. 2d 294
, 576 N.W.2d 46
Sub. (1) refers to “the period of limitation," as defined by the foreign jurisdiction, that governs the case in the foreign state. Application of this rule includes a limitation period that operates as a statute of repose. Wenke v. Gehl Co., 2004 WI 103
, 274 Wis. 2d 220
, 682 N.W.2d 405
In medical malpractice cases involving a negligent misdiagnosis that results in a latent, though continuous, injury, whether the action is “foreign" for purposes of Wisconsin's borrowing statute is determined by whether the plaintiff's first injury occurred outside of Wisconsin. When the plaintiff's place of first injury is unknowable but could have occurred within or outside of this state, the borrowing statute does not apply. Paynter v. ProAssurance Wisconsin Insurance Co., 2019 WI 65
, 387 Wis. 2d 278
, 929 N.W.2d 113
A cause of action is foreign for purposes of the borrowing statute if the plaintiff's injury occurred outside of this state. An injury occurs where it is felt rather than where it originates. To the extent the physician in this case violated the plaintiff's right to informed consent, that injury was felt in Michigan because the plaintiff was in Michigan when the physician allegedly informed the plaintiff that his growth was not malignant and needed no further treatment. Paynter v. ProAssurance Wisconsin Insurance Co., 2019 WI 65
, 387 Wis. 2d 278
, 929 N.W.2d 113
A tort action based on an injury received outside of this state was “foreign." Johnson v. Deltadynamics, Inc., 813 F.2d 944