Melms v. Pabst Brewing Co.


Court: WI Supreme Court

Facts: Melms had a mansion right next to his brewery. This got sold to Pabst, but Mrs. Melms had a life estate in the mansion. Then the area changed and got industrialized. And in fact they graded right around the mansion. And then they removed the mansion and graded the lot right down to street level. And made a parking lot.

Posture: Trial court said this was OK, that the brewery had thought it owned the mansion when it graded the lot, but that actually this had increased the value of the property for the plaintiffs.

Issue: Was this waste?

Holding: No. Affirmed.

Rule: In general, tenants can do stuff like this, but this is "meliorating waste."

Reasoning: Normally this would be waste. And waste is prohibited by statute. But the tenant didn't cause the conditions around the property to change. This doesn't mean that tenants in general can go making what they think might be changes for the better.