Experienced Injury Lawyers Serving Wisconsin

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Consumer’s Rights in Auto Repossession Case

Recently, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion holding that it is illegal for repo men to seize peoples’ cars from the parking garage in their apartment. The case, Duncan v. Asset Recovery Specialists (case number 2019 AP 1365, reported at 2022 WI 1), was brought by a woman whose car was illegally repossessed from her enclosed apartment garage. Ms. Duncan rented an apartment in the building and had a parking spot in the parking garage under the building.

When Wells Fargo claimed she was behind on her payments, it hired a repossession company. That company entered the apartment building’s garage and towed Duncan’s car while she was inside her apartment several floors above.

Ms. Duncan sued under the Wisconsin Consumer Act, which prohibits creditors from entering her dwelling to seize her vehicle. The defendants argued that a garage is not part of a “dwelling.” Both the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and now the Wisconsin Supreme Court have since ruled in Ms. Duncan’s favor. Writing for the majority, Justice Dallet held that “a dwelling … means, at a minimum, a building in which at least one person lives.” The Court then held that a garage attached to the building is part of the dwelling, and that the repossession violated Wisconsin law.

The Wisconsin Consumer Act allows consumers who are harmed by violations of consumer protections to seek damages, and to have the defendants pay their attorney’s fees if they win. Thus, this case will return to the Circuit Court for a determination of damages and attorney’s fees owed to Ms. Duncan.

Attorney Briane Pagel of Lawton & Cates, S.C. represented Ms. Duncan in this lawsuit. Lawton & Cates works to protect the rights of Wisconsin citizens, and represents consumers facing foreclosure, repossession, medical debt collections, and other consumer rights’ suits.

For further information or comment, please contact Attorney Dixon Gahnz and Attorney Briane Pagel at by phone at (608) 420-4033 or by email at dgahnz@lawtoncates.com and bpagel@lawtoncates.com. We can also be reached via our online contact form.

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