Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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At issue was whether this case presented a justiciable issue when the Supreme Court could not render a decision binding on a federal agency and could only offer an advisory opinion that may or may not ultimately bind the parties. Berenergy Corporation, which produced oil from several sites under oil and gas leases granted by the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), sought a declaratory judgment that the terms of its BLM oil leases provided it with rights superior to any obtained by Peabody Energy Corporation through its coal leases. The district court granted in part and denied in part both parties’ motions for summary judgment. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court remanded the case for further proceedings before the district court, holding (1) Congress intended that the issues raised by Berenergy be decided by the Secretary of the Interior or its BLM designees; (2) there was no express consent by the federal government for the Secretary or the BLM to be made a party to suits such as this for the purpose of informing a congressionally approved decision by the district court; but (3) the court nonetheless remands this case for an evaluation of whether a federal agency may participate in this suit. View "Berenergy Corp. v. BTU Western Resources, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant’s declaratory judgment action for lack of a justiciable controversy. Appellant’s driver’s license was suspended after her agreed to take a breath test and provided a breath sample indicating his blood alcohol concentration to be over the legal limit. Appellant initiated a civil action seeking a declaratory judgment that the Wyoming Constitution prohibits a law enforcement officer from using the “deemed consent” provision of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 31-6-102(a)(i) to perform a warrantless chemical test incident to the lawful arrest of a motorist. The district court concluded that the request did not present a justiciable controversy and granted the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s motion to dismiss the action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed the claim because Appellant failed to present a justiciable controversy. View "Leavitt v. State, ex rel. Wyoming Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the district court’s order recognizing and adopting the settlement Richard Hodson reached with Janet Sturgeon. In the settlement, the parties agreed to resolve their pending lawsuit and to divide their jointly owned property. Hodson challenged the district court’s order adopting the settlement through this pro se appeal, apparently arguing that the district court erred in refusing to enforce an agreement that allegedly existed before he filed his lawsuit. The Supreme Court held that Hodson failed to comply with the court’s rules of appellate procedure, and therefore, summarily affirmed the district court’s order. The court also granted Sturgeon’s request for an award of costs and attorney fees. View "Hodson v. Sturgeon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the district court’s order dismissing the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Labor Standards Appeals Division (WFS) from Appellant’s petition for review of a WFS hearing examiner’s decision denying Appellant’s request for damages on his claim that the Wyoming Department of Corrections (DOC) discriminated against him based upon his advanced age. The district court granted WFS’s motion to dismiss, concluding that WFS was not a proper respondent to the petition for review. Several months later, the district court denied Appellant’s motion to amend his petition for review to substitute or join DOC as respondent in the action, ruling that it had no jurisdiction to act on Appellant’s motion to amend because the case was finally resolved upon WFS’s dismissal. On appeal, the Supreme Court concluded that it did not have jurisdiction over this matter because the district court’s order dismissing WFS was final and appealable. View "Schmitz v. State, Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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Nikki Jo Burtsfield died in a law enforcement shooting. The county coroner examined the body and prepared the verdict and case docket, listing the manner and cause of death. Appellant filed a public records request with the coroner seeking disclosure of the verdict and case docket. Dissatisfied with the documents he received in response to his request, Appellant filed a “Motion for Reasonable Response” with the district court, requesting that the court order the coroner to produce a case docket of “sufficient detail.” The district court dismissed the action pursuant to Wyo. R. Civ. P. 12(c). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant was actually requesting relief in mandamus, and even though he did not follow the pleading requirements, the district court had jurisdiction over the action; and (2) on the merits, while the district court erred in denominating its decision as a dismissal under Rule 12(c) rather than a summary judgment, its decision was correct because the coroner did not have an absolute, clear and indisputable duty to provide the detailed information requested by Appellant. View "Williams v. Sundstrom" on Justia Law

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Prior to his death, Timothy Trefren owned Trefren Construction and operated it as a sole proprietorship. Trefren Construction filed a complaint against V&R Construction, LLC and Cocca Development, Ltd. (collectively, Defendants) for breach of contract. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that all corporations associated with the name Trefren Construction were inactive or had been dissolved. Thereafter, Trefren filed a motion for substitution of party seeking to substitute the Estate of Timothy Trefren in the stead of Trefren. The district court denied the motion for substitution of party and dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the named plaintiff was not the real party in interest. The court then made an additional ruling that Defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the parties’ contracts were voidable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the real party in interest requirement is not jurisdictional, and therefore, dismissal of Trefren Construction’s complaint was not mandated; (2) the district court abused its discretion when it denied Trefren Construction’s motion to substitute the Estate as the real party in interest; and (3) the district court’s summary judgment ruling was procedurally infirm and unsupported by a showing of undisputed facts. View "Trefren Construction Co. v. V&R Construction, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Tana Brown filed a complaint seeking a divorce from Darold Brown. Six days later, the district court signed a proposed stipulated decree of divorce. Ten months later, Tana moved to vacate or modify the divorce decree. After trial was scheduled, a scheduling conference was held and resulted in the entry of a scheduling order. Tana then filed a motion for sanctions asserting that Darold had not complied with a deadline in the scheduling order. The district court granted the motion for sanctions, imposing the requested sanction of prohibiting Darold from presenting witness testimony or exhibits at trial. After a trial, the district court granted physical custody of the parties’ children to Tana and divided remaining property and debt. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in imposing sanctions. View "Brown v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Walker Inman executed an inter vivos trust and a last will and testament. After Mr. Inman died, Daralee Inman, his wife, petitioned the district court for probate of Mr. Inman’s estate. Two years after the probate was opened, Wyoming Trust Company (WTC) filed a petition seeking to be appointed as the conservator of the minor children in the probate action. The district court granted the petition. WTC, as conservator for the minor children, filed a separate complaint for declaratory relief and damages, together with a petition to remove trustees, alleging six causes of action. The cases proceeded simultaneously over the next two years. The district court later ordered the cases consolidated. The court then issued its decision and order, interpreting a trust provision and holding that the Wyoming Probate Code governs the transfer of property to the trust but making no final determination of either of the two consolidated matters. Daralee Inman appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the Court lacked jurisdiction to decide the appeal because the order was not a final appealable order. View "In re Estate of Inman" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, as personal representative of the Estate of Theodore Meiners, filed an action seeking enforcement of a divorce settlement agreement entered into between Theodore and his former wife, Colleen Meiners. The district court granted summary judgment to Colleen on some claims and to Plaintiff on other claims. The district court certified its ruling as final pursuant to Wyo. R. Civ. P. 54(b). Plaintiff appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal, holding that the district court’s summary judgment ruling was not properly certified as a final, appealable order pursuant to Rule 54(b). Remanded with directions. View "Meiners v. Meiners" on Justia Law

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Appellees, the purported owners of the “Jay Ranch,” brought an action against Appellant to establish a private road across Appellant’s property. While this suit was pending, Appellees were involved in litigation to determine the rightful ownership the Jay Ranch. The district court concluded that Appellees had satisfied the statutory threshold requirements to move forward with their private road claim and granted Appellees temporary access to the road across Appellant’s property. Thereafter, a decision was rendered against Appellees in the litigation to determine ownership of the Jay Ranch. The district court subsequently dismissed the present case for lack of prosecution. Appellant filed a motion for an award of attorney’s fees and a motion for an award of compensation for the temporary road access. The district court denied both motions. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal, holding (1) Appellant’s post-judgment motion for attorney’s fees was not authorized under Wyo. R. Civ. P. 54; and (2) the district court did not have jurisdiction to consider Appellant’s motion for compensation. View "Edsall v. Moore" on Justia Law