Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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In this complaint brought by Black Diamond Energy and Black Diamond Energy of Delaware (together, the BDE Companies) and seventeen limited partnerships (the Limited Partnerships) the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing with prejudice the complaint, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the case with prejudice.The complaint alleged that S&T Bank's lending policies in the wake of the 2008 economic recession caused severe financial loss to the seventeen limited partnerships (the Limited Partnerships) managed by Black Diamond Energy and Black Diamond Energy of Delaware (together, the BDE Companies). Daniel Groskop, the trustee of a trust formed by the Limited Partnership, was later substituted for the Limited Partnerships as the true party in interest on the condition that the BDE Companies' claims against the Bank be dismissed with prejudice. Due to Groskop's noncompliance with discovery orders and the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure, the district court dismissed the case with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that Groskop's violation of two court orders compelling discovery, two orders awarding attorneys' fees, and the failure to fulfill the representative duties associated with Wyo. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) required dismissal with prejudice. View "S&T Bank v. Groskop" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from the district court's grant of summary judgment to Appellee, holding that because the district court's order granting summary judgment did not resolve all outstanding issues before it, it was not an appealable order under Rule 1.05 of the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure (W.R.A.P.).Michael G. McDill, as trustee of the Phyllis V. McDill Revocable Trust, filed a petition for instructions seeking confirmation that the Trust's no contest clause prohibited Thomas P. McDill, Jr. from taking under the Trust. The district court granted Michael's motion for summary judgment and his petition for instructions. Thomas appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) the district court's order granting Michael's summary judgment motion was not an appealable order under W.R.A.P. 1.05, and therefore, this Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal; and (2) Michael was entitled to attorney fees and costs under W.R.A.P. 1.03 and 10.05. View "McDill v. McDill" on Justia Law

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In this contract dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing H&P Advisory Limited's complaint against Randgold Resources, Limited and Barrick Gold Corporation for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the undisputed facts and all reasonable inferences in H&P's favor did not support personal jurisdiction over Defendants in Wyoming.Randgold, a Jersey (Channel Islands) corporation, and Barrick, a Canada corporation, were two of the world's largest gold mining companies. H&P, a United Kingdom private limited company, served as a neutral broker between the two companies in a merger deal. Those involved in the merger met in Jackson, Wyoming to participate in a series of negotiations. Randgold and Barrick subsequently announced the merger but did not list H&P as an advisor and offered to pay H&P a "small fee" for its role in the merger. H&P sued Randgold and Barrick in the Ninth Judicial District in and for Teton County, Wyoming alleging breach of contract. The district court dismissed the complaint on personal jurisdiction grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly concluded that it lacked specific personal jurisdiction over Defendants. View "H&P Advisory Ltd. v. Randgold Resources Ltd." on Justia Law

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In this real property dispute, the Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal from the district court's partial summary judgment order, holding that the district court abused its discretion when it certified its partial summary judgment order as a final judgment under Wyo. R. Civ. P. 54(b).After his long-term romantic partner died, Defendant provided notice that he was the surviving joint tenant with survivorship rights as to a home in Teton County. Plaintiff, the executor of the decedent's estate, filed a declaratory judgment that Appellant and the decedent were tenants in common and asserted claims for breach of contract or partition. The district court concluded that Defendant owned the property as the surviving joint tenant. Over Defendant's objection, the district court certified the partial summary judgment order as a final judgment and stayed the remaining claim for slander of title. Plaintiff appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and declined to convert the appeal to a writ of review, holding that the district court abused its discretion in finding "no just reason for delay" and certifying its partial summary judgment order as a final judgment. View "CIBC National Trust Co. v. Dominick" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's action claiming that Defendant failed to perform under a website development agreement, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing the case for improper venue.The district court determined that Teton County, Wyoming was not the proper venue for Plaintiff's suit because a forum selection clause in the parties' Master Services Agreement (MSA) required any claim or suit arising under the agreement to be litigated in Orange County, California. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court improperly resolved disputed issues of fact in determining that the MSA was a valid contract. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not decide any material issues of fact; (2) the MSA governed the parties' relationship; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Defendant's motion to dismiss for improper venue. View "Ecocards v. Tekstir, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Defendants' motion to dismiss for improper venue, holding that venue was not proper in Sheridan County.Plaintiffs brought this action in Sheridan County for legal malpractice against two attorneys and their firm. Defendants resided and had their personal place of business in Albany County. Defendants were served with the complaint at their place of business in Albany County. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that venue was improper in Sheridan County. The district court denied the motion, finding that Defendants could reasonably have expected to be summoned in Sheridan County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court abused its discretion when it denied Defendants' motion to dismiss based on an erroneous interpretation of the venue provision in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-5-108. View "Aron v. Willey" on Justia Law

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In this action brought by Plaintiff seeking to collect on a promissory note the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendants' motions to dismiss and granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff, holding that the district court did not err in its rulings.Defendants executed the promissory note in Idaho and delivered it to Plaintiffs in payment for real estate located in Idaho. The note was originally secured by a deed of trust in the property. Plaintiff later sued Defendants in the district court in Teton County, Wyoming seeking to collect on the note. Defendants filed motions to dismiss on the basis that the Wyoming district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and the lawsuit was time barred. The district court denied the motions to dismiss and granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the circumstances of this case, the district court had subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction over Defendants; (2) the district court properly applied the correct Idaho statute of limitations; and (3) the district court did not err in awarding interest, attorney's fees and costs to Plaintiff. View "Woodie v. Whitesell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court dismissing Appellant's divorce action against Appellee on the grounds of improper venue and/or forum non conveniens, holding that the district court erred by dismissing the action for improper venue and did not apply the correct test when it dismissed for forum non conveniens.The parties married in North Carolina in 1989. In 2018, Appellant filed a complaint for divorce in the district court in Fremont County, Wyoming, where he lived. Appellee filed a motion to dismiss the Wyoming action pursuant to Wyo. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3), claiming that Wyoming was an improper venue for the divorce and/or forum non conveniens. The district court granted Appellee's motion. In doing so, the court followed the Supreme Court's decision in West Texas Utilities Co. v. Exxon Coal USA, Inc. 807 P.2d 932 (Wyo. 1991). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court's analysis was inadequate. Consequently, the Court adopted the two-stage test for forum non conveniens from Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501 (1947), and directed the district court to apply that test on remand. View "Saunders v. Saunders" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Finley Resources, Inc.'s complaint against EP Energy E&P Company on the grounds that the forum-selection clause contained in the contract between the parties required Finley to file its suit in Texas, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to exercise jurisdiction based on the forum-selection clause.On appeal, Finley argued that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing Finley's lawsuit because the declaratory judgment, quiet title, and adverse possession claims did not arise from the parties' contract and, even if the equitable causes of action arose from the contract, the Texas courts lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider the claims. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) Finley's equitable claims were matters in connection with the contract and were subject to the forum-selection clause; and (2) Finley's claims will necessarily be resolved by the Texas court's determination of its contractual rights. View "Finley Resources, Inc. v. EP Energy E&P Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Appellants’ Wyo. R. Civ. P. 60 motion to set aside the coroner’s inquest verdict, holding that the district court does not have subject matter jurisdiction in a post-coroner inquest proceeding.Nearly four months later after Lee Birkholz died, the Teton County Coroner conducted a coroner’s request and presented Birkholz’s toxicology results to the inquest jury. The proceeding resulted in a coroner’s inquest verdict of “death due to aspiration secondary to alcohol and 5-methoxy-DMT ingestion.” Appellants filed the Rule 60 motion to set aside the inquest verdict. The coroner moved to dismiss the Rule 60 motion for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the coroner’s inquest verdict is not a final order and has no probative effect and that the filing of the coroner’s inquest verdict with the district court is ministerial and does not confer jurisdiction on the district court. View "Cassidy v. Teton County Coroner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure