Shands v. Castrovinci
In Shands v. Castrovinci, 115 Wis. 2d 352, 340 N.W.2d 506 (1983), the supreme court, deciding whether Wis. Stat. 100.20(5) required an award of reasonable attorney fees for an appeal in an action resulting from a violation of Wis. Admin. Code Ag 134.06, see Shands, 115 Wis. 2d at 354, reiterated that "a 'cardinal rule in interpreting statutes' is to favor a construction which will fulfill the purpose of the statute over a construction which defeats the manifest object of the act," id. at 356 .
The supreme court explained that 100.20(5) "gives any person who suffers damages because of a violation of the administrative regulations, including Ch. 134, a right to recover twice the amount of pecuniary loss, together with costs, including a reasonable attorney fee." See id. at 357.
The court acknowledged that "generally, except for court costs and fees, a plaintiff may not recover attorney fees and expenses of litigation ... unless such liability arises from specific statutory provisions or the contract of the parties." Id.
Nevertheless, the court concluded that "a tenant who has suffered pecuniary loss because of a violation of Wis. Adm. Code Ch. Ag 134 shall recover reasonable attorney fees for appellate review undertaken to attack or defend a trial court's decision in the suit," id. at 359, consistent with the consumer protection principles underlying the statute and the administrative rule.