Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Judgment against corresponding dba enforceable against legal entity

Paul Davis Restoration of S.E. Wisconsin, Inc. v. Paul Davis Restoration of Northeast Wisconsin, 2013 WI 49 (2011AP1121 June 4, 2013) opinion

Justice Crooks wrote for the court.
"¶5 It follows from this principle that if the name under which a person or corporation does business is 'simply another way to refer to' a single legal entity and constitutes no entity distinct from the person or corporation who does business, then a judgment against the 'doing business as' or 'd/b/a' name is enforceable against the legal entity from which it is indistinct. This result is consistent with the approach taken on this question by the majority of other jurisdictions that have addressed it. Based on this principle in Wisconsin case law concerning a d/b/a designation or trade name, and consistent with the approaches of the majority of other jurisdictions, we hold that the judgment against EA Green Bay LLC's d/b/a designation, Paul Davis Restoration of Northeast Wisconsin, is enforceable against EA Green Bay, LLC, and the account at Denmark State Bank; Northeast and EA Green Bay, LLC, are not two distinct legal entities; and EA Green Bay, LLC, was undisputedly doing business under the name Northeast. We reverse the decision of the court of appeals and remand to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
Justice Roggensack concurred, joined by Justice Ziegler.
"¶30 Because of Northeast's prior inconsistent representations to the circuit court, which the circuit court apparently accepted, I conclude that Northeast is judicially estopped from challenging the garnishment on the ground that the judgment is not enforceable because Northeast is not a legal entity. Accordingly, I respectfully concur with the majority opinion's reversal of the decision of the court of appeals, albeit on a different rationale."
See posts on 'Paul Davis Restoration' Wisconsin Supreme Court argument - audio/video and Wisconsin Supreme Court argument March 14, 2013