Cattau v. National Insurance Services of Wisconsin, Inc. (Pleading Standard)

In Cattau v. National Insurance Services of Wisconsin, Inc. (2019 WI 46), a unanimous Wisconsin Supreme Court held that Data Key Partners v. Permira Advisers, LLC did not heighten the pleading standard in Wisconsin. However, the court was divided as to whether plaintiffs in this case stated a claim upon which relief could be granted.

The plaintiffs, former teachers and school administrators, claimed negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and misrepresentation against MidAmerica and National Insurance Services (NIS), which administered their retirement plans. The plans were noncompliant with federal law, and the plaintiffs ultimately owed several years of tax dollars back to the Internal Revenue Service. The plaintiffs claim they relied on MidAmerica and NIS as experts to administer a qualifying plan, and MidAmerica and NIS misrepresented the plan as federally compliant.

While the Supreme Court reversed the appeals court reasoning that Data Key created a new pleading standard, it was evenly divided on whether the plaintiffs stated an adequate claim against MidAmerica and NIS. With Justice Shirley Abrahamson not participating, the 3-3 court affirmed the court of appeals decision that plaintiffs failed to state a claim.