Finkenbinder v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co
In Finkenbinder v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 215 Wis. 2d 145, 572 N.W.2d 501 (Ct. App. 1997), the plaintiff, Jeanne Finkenbinder, was struck by a car while she was walking across a street. See id. at 147.
She filed suit in circuit court against her underinsurance carrier. The insurer successfully moved to compel arbitration. See id.
Following arbitration, Finkenbinder returned to circuit court seeking, among other things, costs under Wis. Stat. ch. 814. See 215 Wis. 2d at 147-148.
The court held that "the statutory scheme of ch. 814, Stats., envisions a 'prevailing party' as one who is successful in a litigated trial court proceeding, not one who succeeds in obtaining an award before an arbitrator." Id. at 151.
Finkenbinder argued that she was successful in a litigated trial court proceeding because she originally filed her claim in circuit court and her award was also finally confirmed there. See 215 Wis. 2d at 152.
However, the Court rejected that argument, concluding that "it is not the beginning and end points of an action that are dispositive; rather, the determining factor is whether the action was the subject of a litigated trial court proceeding." Id.