Is an Expert Required to Prove Causation in Government Immunity Action?

The plaintiff sought review of a court of appeals decision affirming the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing his claims against the Village for negligence and private nuisance. He sued the Village after wastewater backed up into his basement. 

Plaintiff claimed that the court of appeals erred in determining that the Village was immune from suit for negligence pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 893.80(4). He also contended that the court of appeals erred in affirming the grant of summary judgment on his private nuisance claim on the grounds that he failed to present expert testimony on causation. Specifically, Plaintiff argued that the Village’s oral policy to pump water out of a lift station when it reached a certain level created a ministerial duty to act. Plaintiff also said that expert testimony wasn’t required to establish the requisite causation to maintain his private nuisance claim. 

The circuit court granted summary judgment to the Village, and the court of appeals affirmed the circuit court, concluding that the Village was entitled to governmental immunity under state statute. That court held that the Village’s fourth rung “rule of thumb” didn’t create a ministerial duty. As to the private nuisance claim, the court of appeals reasoned that because Plaintiff failed to present expert testimony, he failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact that the negligent failure to maintain the wastewater disposal system was the legal cause of his damages. 

Read more at ForensisGroup.