July 25, 2018
I. Initial Investigation
In order to have a violation of the Safe Place Statute, the event must occur at a place contemplated by Wis. Stat. §101.01(11): “. . . [E]very place, whether indoors either temporarily or permanently or out . . . and the premises appurtenant thereto where any industry, trade or business is carried on . . . and where any person is, directly or indirectly employed by another for direct or indirect gain or profit. . .”1
Counsel must determine whether the condition causing the injury was attributable to the owner or occupant or his agents.2 Additionally, counsel must determine whether the owner or occupant knew of the dangerous condition and had reasonable opportunity to remedy it, and whether the injured party was contributorily negligent.3
During the initial interview, the primary evaluation is whether the client’s case has a reasonable chance of success.4 Careful attention to the basic issues of premises liability during the client interview saves time and expense in additional investigation and trial preparation.5
Upon being retained, defense counsel is usually provided with investigative material.6 Counsel must, however, anticipate and fill gaps always present in preliminary investigations.7
A. The Scene
Counsel or an investigator should visit the scene of the injury.8 Depending on the facts of the case, the person inspecting the scene should scrutinize the following types of details: the condition of the floor, the types of items displayed, the likelihood of displayed or stored items spilling onto traversed areas, the presence of protruding items of furniture or articles for sale, and the presence of ladders, stools, brooms, mops or other maintenance or cleaning implements.9 Careful attention should be given to both natural and artificial lighting as they affect visibility at the place of injury.10
The scene should be photographed at the time of this visit if possible.11 Counsel should also obtain photographs or video of the scene taken by plaintiff, defendant, a witness, or a security camera.
Sample Investigation Checklist
The following is a list of information the plaintiff’s counsel should obtain during investigation of the slip and fall/premises liability case, generally.12
1. Background Information. On the incident itself:
a. Information relating to the date, time, and basic facts of the accident may be obtained from police reports;
b. Weather conditions at the time of the accident may be obtained from the National Weather Service;
c. Information relating to prior accidents at the scene may be obtained through several sources, including:
(1) Local newspaper reporters or news articles;
(2) Public building inspectors;
(3) Private building inspectors located through real estate brokers.
d. Design plans for the scene of the accident may be obtained from the local building department.
2. Ownership and Control. The issue of ownership and control of the premises is likely to be critical to the case both in terms of naming defendants and later at trial on the issue of duty of care.
a. Ownership. Depending on what type of property is involved, sources of information about the defendant, or defendants, will differ. Where the accident occurred on commercial property, defendant may be a retail shopping establishment, a hotel-motel, a recreational facility, a restaurant, or a public transportation terminal. To determine ownership check:
(1) Deeds on file with the local registry of deeds;
(2) Corporation documents on file with the secretary of state;
(3) Tax records on file with the local assessor’s office;
(4) Any lease or ownership agreements;
(5) Records of any license, easement, or servitude.
(1) In the typical slip-and-fall case, the plaintiff will be interested in information relating to control of the premises or injury-causing instrumentality contained in lease agreements, which may show potential defendants and sources of duty of care. Useful information may be found in maintenance or security service contracts, which may show an obligation to maintain or inspect.
(2) In construction accident and design defect cases, plaintiff may look for information relating to control of the premises or instrumentality in: (aa) Contracts between the owner/developer and the architect or engineer, which may indicate whether the owner was involved in the planning and design process or failed to inspect or repair a design defect; (bb) Any contracts between contractors and the owner/developer or between contractors and subcontractors; (cc) Any contracts between a contractor and subcontractor and a manufacturer.
3. Standards, Codes, and Specifications. Information relating to standards and codes will be relevant to the issue of the defendant’s duty of care in many premises liability cases. Standards information may be obtained from a number of sources:
a. State and municipal building codes relating to the accident location may be obtained from the local building inspector;
b. Federal government specifications may be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20410;
c. Industry standards may be obtained from the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI) 1430 Broadway, New York 10018.
4. Notice. Prior lawsuits against the defendant contain information relevant to the issue of prior notice as well as in-house reports. Plaintiff’s counsel should be aware of the existence of the Index Bureau, a subscription agency available to insurance companies and large self insurers who exchange information on all claimants. When an insurance company receives notice of a claim or suit, it sends to the Index Bureau the key information, including names, addresses, type of case, court, etc., for its particular case. If the claimant has ever been a claimant before, the Index Bureau will supply the insurance company with the key facts of all prior claims. The insurance company can then contact the other insurance companies claimed against for complete details on each prior claim.13
Witnesses to the occurrence must be identified and interviewed.14 The witnesses should be encouraged to recall anything that came to their attention relating to the condition of the floor or to the presence of articles on the floor near the place of injury.15 Questions should be phrased to ascertain comments that may have been made by the injured party, the witnesses, or representatives of the owner or occupant who may have come upon the scene.16 Statements should also be taken from witnesses who were at the scene of the accident but who claim to have no knowledge of the event.17
Sample Client Interview Questions18
1. What is the address or location of the building or place where the accident occurred?
2. How did the accident occur?
3. Detail the previous condition of your health (both physical and mental, and with special attention to physical infirmities that may have contributed to the injury).
4. Is your vision in any way impaired?
5. Do you wear glasses?
Place of Injury
6. What is the age of the building?
7. What is its general condition and state of repair?
8. Describe the lighting conditions, both natural and artificial.
9. Detail any conditions that may have contributed to the injury.
10. What merchandise was on display in the area?
Status of party as invitee
11. Where did you start your trip and what was your destination?
12. What time of day and day of the week did the injury occur?
13. Were you upon the property with the knowledge or permission of the owner or occupant?
14. What was your reason for being at the location where this injury occurred?
15. Detail any circumstances that would cause the owner or the occupant to be aware of your presence at the exact scene of the injury.
16. Had a purchase been made in the store?
Details of accident
17. Give full details of the manner in which the injury occurred.
18. Why did you fail to discover the dangerous condition previous to falling?
19. What was occupying your immediate attention at the time of the accident?
20. Give a full description of the clothing, including shoes, that was worn at the time of the injury.
21. Could any of these have contributed in any way to the injury?
22. Describe the way and manner the particular occurrence caused the particular injury.
Witnesses to the accident
23. What are the names, addresses and relationship to the injured party of all persons accompanying the injured party at the time of injury?
24. What are the names and addresses of all other known witnesses?
25. What are the names, addresses and other identification of all persons representing the owner or the occupant present at the scene?
Contact with representatives of the owner or occupant
26. What is the substance of all conversations between representatives of the owner or occupant and the injured party and the identity of witnesses to any such conversations?
27. What contacts were made by relatives or friends of the injured party with representatives of the owner or the occupant; what is the substance of any such conversations and the identity of witnesses to such conversations?
28. State the identity of any investigator or adjuster with whom you have been in contact. Did you make any statements, orally or in writing? What is the content of any such statement?
Condition of premises
29. Do you have any information as to similar occurrences on the same premises?
30. Do you have any information as to repairs or modifications that had been made following the accident?
Ownership or control of premises
31. What information do you have as to the ownership or control of the premises?
32. To what different uses are the premises put?
In Wisconsin, weather plays an important role in premises liability cases – from the presence of ice and snow to water tracked indoors and the thaw cycle creating cracks and uneven pavement. It is important to obtain meteorological records.
Sample Questions Relating to Weather Conditions19
1. Please describe in as much detail as possible the weather conditions at the time and place of the occurrence, including in your answer details of light, temperature, humidity, cloud cover, wind velocity, wind direction and type of precipitation, if any.
2. Please describe in as much detail as possible the weather conditions which prevailed during the 24-hour period prior to the occurrence at the place of that occurrence, giving in your answer details of temperature, humidity, wind velocity and precipitation and including a description of any accumulation of any type of precipitation up to the time of the occurrence.
3. Please describe the weather at the time of the occurrence, stating in your answer whether it was clear, cloudy, raining lightly or sprinkling, raining hard, sleeting, snowing, or otherwise.
4. Please describe the appearance of the sun at the time of the occurrence, stating in your answer whether it was shining brightly, shining but cloudy, overcast, or otherwise.
5. At the time and place of the occurrence, please describe whether or not it was raining.
6. At the time and place of the occurrence, please describe whether or not it had been raining within a few minutes prior to the occurrence.
7. Please state whether or not the surface of the area at the time and place of the occurrence was wet from rain.
8. Please describe the surface condition of the area at the time and place of the occurrence as to moisture or wetness, stating in your answer whether it was dry, damp, wet in patches, completely wet, or otherwise.
9. At the time and place of the occurrence, please describe the surface as to slipperiness, stating in your answer whether the surface was clear and dry, slightly slippery or very slippery.
10. At the time of the occurrence, please describe whether or not it was, or just previously had been, snowing or sleeting, stating details.
11. Please describe the weather conditions for the time from a few minutes after the occurrence, stating in as much detail as possible a description of the atmospheric conditions: rain, clouds, lightning flashes, lightning bolt strokes, and wind.
12. Did adverse or less than ideal weather conditions play or have any part of any kind in the happening of the occurrence?
13. If your answer to the preceding interrogatory is in the affirmative, please describe in detail each such weather condition and state in detail in what way it had or played any part in the happening of the occurrence.
II. Past Accidents
Evidence of prior accidents is relevant to the issue of notice.20 In Callan v. Peters Const. Co., a plaintiff was injured in a fall near a sidewalk entrance to a shopping center store. The Court of Appeals held that where, although a prior accident had occurred some feet away from plaintiff’s, both falls took place in the same area, which consisted of construction and debris, and the court concluded that the accidents were remarkably alike, and where defendant admitted notice of the prior accident, evidence of it was admissible and established defendant’s receipt of notice of unsafe condition prior to the plaintiff’s fall.21 Notice is not extinguished just because a temporary, unsafe condition was cleaned away between the time of the prior accidents and the subject accident.22 Even if, for example, icy conditions disappear and reappear as weather changes, evidence of falls in a particular location is relevant to show that the measures that were being taken to remedy the problem were insufficient.23 Evidence of other similar incidents is relevant whether those incidents occurred prior to or subsequent to the subject incident.24 The court in Netzel v. State Sand & Gravel Co. quoted with approval, in a footnote, the following language in 65A C.J.S. Negligence § 234(1) (1966):25 The true rule would appear to be that the admissibility of evidence of the existence of similar defects, or of the occurrence of other accidents or injuries of a similar nature or similarly caused, depends on the purpose for which the evidence is offered and on whether the nature of the negligence which is claimed to have caused the accident or injury in question is such that proof of other accidents or defects will tend to throw light on the issue; and, where such is the case, evidence of this character is admissible.26
Evidence of prior accidents is allowed in the discretion of the trial judge.27 Both the purpose for which the evidence of other injuries similarly caused and the nature of the negligence claimed are to be considered in determining whether discretion has been abused.28 In Callan v. Peters Const. Co., a plaintiff was injured walking in temporary construction zone at a shopping center which was improperly cleaned up.29 A similar fall had occurred six days prior to the plaintiff’s fall due to improper clean-up of the construction area.30 Evidence of a prior accident was necessary to prove notice.31
III. Subsequent Remedial Measures
Wisconsin’s rule pertaining to the admission of evidence of subsequent remedial measures is as follows:
When, after an event, measures are taken which, if taken previously, would have made the event less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is not admissible to prove negligence or culpable conduct in connection with the event. This section does not require the exclusion of evidence of subsequent measures when offered for another purpose, such as proving ownership, control, or feasibility of precautionary measures, if controverted, or impeachment or proving a violation of s. 101.11. Wis. Stat. § 904.07.
The second sentence of Wis. Stat. § 904.07 lists some of the permissible uses of remedial measures, including proof of a safe place violation under Wis. Stat. § 101.11, Stats.32 Also excluded are only those measures “that would have made the event less likely to occur” had they been taken before the event.33 There must be a link between the likelihood of the incident’s occurrence and the corrective measures taken afterward.34
Because the Wisconsin Safe-Place Law, Wis. Stat. § 101.11, imposes a special duty upon owners of places of employment and public buildings, a separate line of cases developed in which subsequent changes were admissible to show the feasibility of making the place as safe as conditions reasonably permitted.35 Thus, evidence of changes and alterations in a place of employment after an accident is admissible for the inference that the place was not as safe as its nature would reasonably permit.36 Such evidence is to be considered with other facts and is not controlling.37 Therefore, it was proper to consider evidence of the installation of safety bars on a machine after an accident.38
Remedial measures may also be offered to show the feasibility of precautionary measures.39 Care should be taken to determine whether feasibility is actually in dispute.40 Feasibility inevitably shades into the reasonableness of the conduct and hence into negligence itself.41 If the parties have stipulated to feasibility, then the evidence has little probative value and may be excluded.42 For example, in Ansani v. Cascade Mountain, Inc., a skier sued the operator of a ski facility for injuries sustained when he fell into a timing box on a coin-operated race course.43 Where the defendant put on several witnesses to testify that there was “always” a fence around the timing box, evidence of subsequent measures was properly admitted to impeach the witnesses in regard to a specific fact to which the witnesses has testified.44
Rule 907.02 of the Wisconsin Rules of Evidence45 regarding testimony by experts is as follows:
(1) If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.
(2) Notwithstanding sub. (1), the testimony of an expert witness may not be admitted if the expert witness is entitled to receive any compensation contingent on the outcome of any claim or case with respect to which the testimony is being offered.46
Experts commonly testify in premises liability cases involving escalators, walking surfaces, both inside and outside the premises, adequacy of markings or warnings on glass windows or doors, sufficiency of lighting, construction of stairways and ramps, and the cause, origin and spread of fires.47 In addition to these experts, the usual collection of medical experts will be necessary.48 There may also be a rehabilitation expert or an economist.49 Where needed, counsel should contact experts, such as architects, building contractors, or building superintendents for advice and information of possible design or structural defects, generally accepted construction practices in the area, or the proper janitorial maintenance of floors services.50
The expert must be able to support his or her opinions using reliable methodology, as the Supreme Court required in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael.51 The Daubert standard is codified in Rule 907.02 of the Wisconsin Rules of Evidence.52
After an expert is retained, he or she can help guide counsel during the discovery stages of the lawsuit.53 The expert should know key documents to obtain and can recommend effective exhibits to be used during depositions or testimony.54
A general contractor has a duty to comply with safety regulations promulgated by DILHR.55 A violation of such regulations constitutes negligence per se on the part of the general contractor.56
A determination that a code or standard applies to an individual or entity as a matter of law for decision by the court.57 Expert testimony is admissible in determining conformance of a structure to the code.58
In Szalacinski v. Campbell, 760 N.W.2d 420, 314 Wis.2d 286 (Ct. App. 2008), safe-place law liability could not be imposed upon hotel by guests injured in hotel fire.59 The hotel’s compartmentalization was a code-compliant alternative to a sprinkler system, fire alarm system and fire doors worked during fire inspection approximately three months prior to the fire, though some of the guests at the hotel did not hear their room smoke detectors smoke did not reach all of the rooms in the hotel, there was no evidence indicating that the hotel had notice of any defects in the room smoke detectors or in one of the fire doors, which apparently failed to seal tightly on the night of the fire, prior to the fire, there was no evidence indicating that the hotel was understaffed on the night of the fire, and opening windows were not required by code.60 In Hannenbaum v. Direnzo and Bomier, the plaintiff fell while descending steps which led from the building the sidewalk and brought a negligence suit against the owner of the building and two tenants in the building.61 The court held that notice was not required as to structural defects, and undisputed evidence showed that defendants had actual notice of icy conditions and resulting danger on the premises.
I. Statute of Repose
Wisconsin Statute § 893.89. Action for injury resulting from improvements to real property is a statute of repose which “sets forth the time period during which an action for injury resulting from improvements to real property must be brought.”62 It provides, generally, that no personal injury action may be brought against an owner or occupier of property involved in the improvement of real property after 10 years.63
For example, in Mair v. Trollhaugen Ski Resort, a patron broke her leg after stepping on a recessed floor drain.64 The patron’s action against the ski resort for negligence and violation of safe-place statute was barred by the statute of repose.65
An exception to the statute of repose is presented in Gennrich v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., where a golfer fell after leaning on a fence that gave way and sued the owner of the public for profit golf course, alleging violation of safe-place statute and common law negligence.66 The 10-year statute of repose did not apply because the golfer argued on appeal that the fence was negligently inspected, maintained, and repaired – not that it was negligently planned, designed, or constructed.67
There are two types of immunity, which may apply independently or may overlap. Recreational immunity is embodied in Wis. Stat. § 895.52. Governmental immunity is set forth in Chapter 893 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
Wisconsin’s Recreational Use Statute, Wis. Stat. § 895.52, was intended to ease the concerns of many Wisconsin property owners that they might be held liable for injuries suffered by recreational users of their land.68 Recreational immunity statutes generally preserve a landowner’s liability for egregious conduct.69 The statute generally preserves a defendant’s liability if payment was received in exchange for recreational use of the land.70 Governmental immunity is subdivided into two types of duties: (1) ministerial duties, and (2) discretionary duties. Discretionary acts are protected by the government immunity statute, but ministerial duties are not.71 A “discretionary act” for purposes of governmental immunity is one that involves an exercise of judgment when applying rules to the facts.72 When determining if governmental immunity applies, legislative, quasi-legislative, judicial, or quasi-judicial functions are synonymous with discretionary acts.73
III. Non-Delegable Duties
Wisconsin’s safe place statute creates a non-delegable statutory duty for premises owners.74 This duty creates legal obligations distinct from those arising under common law.75 A landowner must only have a reason to know of the presence of a dangerous condition, rather than “should know”—the latter term expressing the idea that a possessor owes a duty to trespassers to take action to ascertain the fact in question, while the term “reason to know” does not impose a duty to inspect on a possessor, and thus imposes a less onerous burden. 76 For example, in Wagner v. Cincinnati Cas. Co., under the safe-place statute, an office building owner had control over the installation of a window which allegedly fell and injured an office worker.77 The building owner was responsible for arranging for the replacement of the window at issue, and it could not delegate its responsibility under the safe-place statute for installation of windows that were as safe as their nature reasonably permitted.78
IV. Safe Place or Negligence
In Megal v. Green Bay Area Visitor & Convention Bureau, Inc., a patron slipped on a French fry while exiting an ice show and sued the arena owner and others alleging violation of the safe-place statute and common-law negligence.79 The court held that although evidence was insufficient for the patron to establish a claim under the safe-place statute, a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the arena’s failure to locate and remove the French fry from the stair constituted a lack of ordinary care.80
1 See also Barthel v. Wisconsin Elec. Power Co., 69 Wis. 2d 446, 450, 230 N.W.2d 863, 866 (1975); Schmorrow v. Sentry Ins. Co., 138 Wis. 2d 31, 43, 405 N.W.2d 672, 678 (Wis. Ct. App. 1987) (Safe Place Statute defines a placeof employment very broadly.).
2 79 Am. Jur. Trials 285 (Originally published in 2001).
8 79 Am. Jur. Trials 285 (Originally published in 2001).
10 Id. .
12 79 Am. Jur. Trials 285 (Originally published in 2001).
13 79 Am. Jur. Trials 285 (Originally published in 2001).
14 79 Am. Jur. Trials 285 (Originally published in 2001).
18 79 Am. Jur. Trials 285 (Originally published in 2001).
19 79 Am. Jur. Trials 285 (Originally published in 2001).
20 Callan v. Peters Const. Co., 94 Wis.2d 225, 233, 288 N.W.2d 146, 150 (1979).
22 Id. at 235, 288 N.W.2d at 151.
23 See id.
24 See Wussow v. Commercial Mechanisms, Inc., 97 Wis.2d 136, 156, 293 N.W.2d 897, 907 (1980) (testimony regarding post-accident injuries is relevant).
25 Netzel v. State Sand & Gravel Co., 51 Wis.2d 1, 10 n.18, 186 N.W.2d 258, 263 n.18 (1971).
26 Id. at 10, 186 N.W.2d at 258, 263 n.17.
27 Callan v. Peters Const. Co., 94 Wis. 2d 225, 232, 288 N.W.2d 146, 149 (Ct. App. 1979).
29 Callan v. Peters Const. Co., 94 Wis. 2d 225, 233, 288 N.W.2d 146, 150 (Ct. App. 1979).
32 7 Wis. Prac., Wis. Evidence § 407.1 (3d ed.).
35 10 Wis. Prac., Trial Handbook for Wis. Lawyers § 13:08 (3d ed.).
36 Id.; see also Heiden v. Milwaukee, 226 Wis. 92, 275 N.W. 922 (1937).
37 Id.; see also Hipke v. Badger Paper Mills, Inc., 261 Wis. 226, 52 N.W.2d 401 (1952).38 Id.; see also L. M. Bickett Co. v. Industrial Commission, 10 Wis. 2d 289, 102 N.W.2d 748 (1960).
39 7 Wis. Prac., Wis. Evidence § 407.1 (3d ed.).
43 Ansani v. Cascade Mountain, Inc., 223 Wis. 2d 39, 56, 588 N.W.2d 321, 328 (Ct. App. 1998).
45 Wis. Stat. § 907.02.
47 3 Pattern Discovery Premises Liability § 18:21.
50 79 Am. Jur. Trials 285 (Originally published in 2001).
51 Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993); Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 119 S. Ct. 1167 (1999); Wis. Stat. § 907.02.
52 See id.
55 See Nordeen v. Hammerlund, 132 Wis. 2d 164, 389 N.W.2d 828 (Ct. App. 1986).
57 Uebele v. Oehmsen Plastic Greenhouse Mfg., Inc., 125 Wis. 2d 431, 373 N.W.2d 456 (Ct. App. 1985).
58 Uebele at 436; Allison v. Wm. Doerflinger Co., 208 Wis. 206, 210-11, 242 N.W. 558 (1932); Bent v. Jonet, 213 Wis. 635, 644-45, 252 N.W. 290 (1934); Candell v. Skaar, 3 Wis. 2d 544, 89 N.W.2d 274 (1958) (expert testimony admissible to explain the meaning and practical application of the requirement of a non-slippery surface); Bellart v. Martell, 28 Wis. 2d 686, 691-92, 137 N.W.2d 729 (1965) (opinion that revolving shaft should have been guarded in compliance with code).
59 Szalacinski v. Campbell, 760 N.W.2d 420, 314 Wis.2d 286 (Ct. App. 2008).
61 Hannenbaum v. Direnzo and Bomier, 162 Wis.2d 488, 469 N.W.2d 900 (1991).
62 Kohn v. Darlington Cmty. Sch., 2005 WI 99, 283 Wis. 2d 1, 698 N.W.2d 794.
63 Wis. Stat. § 893.89 (2013-14).
64 Mair v. Trollhaugen Ski Resort, 2006 WI 61, 291 Wis. 2d 132, 715 N.W.2d 598.
66 Gennrich v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 2010 WI App 117, 329 Wis. 2d 91, 789 N.W.2d 106.
68 Glenn M. Salvo, Minnesota Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Paper Recycling of La Crosse: Why Property
Owners Should Fear the Mischief of Boys at Play and Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices at Work, 2002 Wis. L. Rev. 999, 1000 (2002).
69 47 A.L.R.4th 262 (Originally published in 1986).
71 Showers Appraisals, LLC v. Musson Bros., Inc., 819 N.W.2d 316, 343 Wis.2d 623 (Ct. App. 2012), review granted 827 N.W.2d 95, 345 Wis.2d 400, reversed 835 N.W.2d 226.
72 DeFever v. City of Waukesha, 743 N.W.2d 848, 306 Wis.2d 766 (Ct. App. 2007), review denied 746 N.W.2d 812, 307 Wis.2d 295.
74 Anderson v. Proctor & Gamble Paper Products Co., E.D.Wis.2013, 924 F.Supp.2d 996.
76 Christians v. Homestake Enterprises, Ltd., 101 Wis. 2d 25, 303 N.W.2d 608 (1981).
77 Wagner v. Cincinnati Cas. Co., 800 N.W.2d 27, 334 Wis.2d 516 (Ct. App. 2011).
79 Megal v. Green Bay Area Visitor & Convention Bureau, Inc., 2004 WI 98, 274 Wis. 2d 162, 682 N.W.2d 857.