Prince Corp. v. Vandenberg (WI)

Summary: A lien can attach to one debtor’s interest in real property, though the property is owned by several people as tenants in common.


Prince Corp. v. Vandenberg, 868 N.W.2d 599 (Wis. App. 2015).


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Facts: James Vandenberg, Mark Vandenberg, Sharon Kempen, and Sandra Schmit owned real property as tenants in common. They all entered into a land contract to sell the property to Van De Hey Real Estate, LLC. Afterwards, Prince Corporation, which had previously obtained a money judgment against James Vandenberg, sought to garnish a portion of the last payment for the land contract. The lower court granted the request.

The other co-tenants (Intervenors) intervened in the action and also filed a third party complaint against the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR). The DOR had two tax liens against James Vandenberg and attempted to garnish the real estate transaction. The circuit court ordered that the DOR would garnish the final land contract instead of Prince. Prince and the Intervenors appealed the decision.


 Holding: Affirmed. The court addressed several issues on appeal. The first issue determined how the final land contract payment could be subject to garnishment. The Intervenors believed that Van De Hey Real Estate, LLC, owed money jointly to James Vandenberg and the Intervenors. As a result, they believed that DOR and Prince could not garnish the last land contract payment in order to satisfy the sole debt of James Vandenberg. Based on the real estate contract, James Vandenberg owed one-fourth of the property being sold. As a result, a quarter of the final payment could be garnished. The contract showed nothing that would suggest that the payment would not be broken down by the payees’ respective interests.  The court also concluded that the garnishment could apply to the entirety of the real estate contract and not just the final payment.

Prince argued that they should receive priority over the DOR. In the case, Prince docketed a money judgment against Vandenberg on May 6, 2010. The court agreed that they were entitled to a lien on the contract payment but were not superior to the DOR. The DOR perfected their tax liens on January 4, 2010 well before Prince. Therefore, the DOR had priority and could garnish James Vandenberg’s interest in the real estate contract.


By: ATG Underwriting Department | Posted on: Mon, 01/18/2016 - 4:55pm