Articles Posted in Commercial Law

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Northwest Building Company, LLC (Contractor) performed construction services for Northwest Distributing Co., Inc. (Owner) on a Taco John’s/Good Times facility in Gillette, Wyoming. Contractor brought an action against Owner seeking payment for its services, and Owner counterclaimed. After Contractor’s attorney moved to withdraw, the district court ordered Contractor to find substitute counsel in time for the pretrial conference. When Contractor was unable to find substitute counsel by the deadline, the district court sanctioned it by dismissing its complaint and granting judgment in favor of Owner on its counterclaims. Contractor appealed, raising a number of procedural issues. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing the Contractor's complaint, and affirmed the lower court's judgment. View "Northwest Building Company, LLC v. Northwest Distributing Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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Earl and Nawana Wallace (the Senior Wallaces) borrowed $15,789 from Pinnacle Bank - Wyoming to finance a vehicle the Senior Wallaces purchased for their son and his wife (the Junior Wallaces). The collateral for the loan was the vehicle the Senior Wallaces bought for and titled in the Junior Wallaces' names. To that end, the Junior Wallaces signed a third party security agreement pledging the vehicle as collateral. The Junior Wallaces subsequently filed a bankruptcy petition. The bankruptcy trustees eventually sold the vehicle to benefit the bankruptcy estate. The Senior Wallaces thereafter stopped making payments on the loan. Pinnacle then filed a complaint seeking damages in the amount of the principal due on the note. The district court granted Pinnacle's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that none of the Senior Wallaces' asserted defenses excused them from meeting their loan obligation. View "Wallace v. Pinnacle Bank - Wyo." on Justia Law

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Appellant Chip Dave purchased a car on eBay. Before he took possession of the vehicle, the seller sold it to another buyer, Appellee Bill Valdez. Appellant filed a complaint against Appellee citing a number of causes of action, including replevin. Following Appellee's failure to respond to Appellant's second amended complaint, a default judgment was entered and Appellant was granted a writ of replevin ordering Appellee to relinquish possession of the vehicle. Appellant then appealed the district court's denial of an award of attorney fees, arguing that the American rule, requiring each party to pay his or her own attorney fees, was inapplicable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the statutory exception to the American rule applies only where the legislature has made it explicit that attorney fees will be allowed; and (2) in this case, no exception to the American rule applied. View "Dave v. Valdez" on Justia Law

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This was the second of two related lawsuits filed by Torrington Livestock Cattle Company (TLCC) against Daren and Jennifer Berg. In the first suit, Daren was found liable for breach of contract, conversion, and fraud. The court entered judgment in the favor of TLCC in the amount of $517,635, but the judgment remained unsatisfied. While the first suit was pending, the Bergs signed a promissory note with the First Bank of Torrington. As collateral, the bank acquired security interests in a variety of the Bergs' property, including livestock and ranching equipment. Later, the bank assigned the promissory note to TLCC. After the Bergs did not make the first payment, TLCC commenced the instant action, alleging breach of contract for promissory note and to enforce security agreement. The district court determined that no material issues of fact existed and TLCC was entitled to summary judgment. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the judgment of the trial court based upon the deficient brief offered by the Bergs and their failure to follow the rules of appellate procedure. View "Berg v. Torrington Livestock Cattle Co." on Justia Law

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R & R Rig Service moved Universal Drilling Company's drilling rig under a time and materials contract. Universal refused to pay R & R's invoice, claiming that it should only have to pay the amount it paid to have the rig moved a few weeks later by a different company. R & R brought suit for payment of the services it rendered, and Universal counterclaimed on the basis of fraud and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The district court generally ruled in favor of R & R and against Universal, although it refused to grant R & R's request for pre-judgment interest. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the district court (1) did not err in awarding damages; (2) did not err in ruling that Universal had failed to prove its fraud claim; (3) properly denied Universal's claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (4) erred in denying R & R's request for prejudgment interest. Remanded with directions to award R & R prejudgment interest. View "Universal Drilling Co., LLC v. R & R Rig Serv., LLC" on Justia Law

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Landlord leased commercial real property to Tenant. Landlord granted Tenant permission to renovate the property on the condition that Tenant would pay for the renovations. Tenant thereafter contracted with Contractor to perform the work. When Tenant defaulted on its payments to Contractor, Contractor filed a lien against Landlord's property. Contractor thereafter filed a complaint against Landlord and Tenant, asserting various claims and seeking to foreclose on its lien. The district court granted Landlord's motion for summary judgment, concluding that, pursuant to Wyoming's lien statutes, a valid mechanic's lien did not exist because Landlord did not agree to pay for the renovations to the property and that Tenant was not acting as Landlord's agent in contracting for the improvements. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly interpreted Wyo. Stat. Ann. 29-2-105(a)(ii) to require a finding of agency between the landlord and tenant before a mechanic's lien may attach to the landlord's property for work performed at the tenant's behest; and (2) in this case, that relationship did not exist. View "Redco Constr. v. Profile Props., LLC " on Justia Law

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James Schlinger owned and operated Curtis Excavation and WW Construction. Schlinger, acting as president of WW Construction, entered into an oral agreement to lease his business and all associated equipment and land to Christopher McGhee and Jack Robinson. McGhee and Robinson formed Curtis-Westwood Construction as the entity to lease and operate the business. After eight months, Schlinger determined McGhee and Robinson were not properly managing the business and terminated the oral lease agreement. The parties disputed the financial implications of the termination. After a bench trial, the district court determined that Schlinger breached his oral agreement with Appellees, McGhee, Robinson, and Curtis-Westood Construction, and that Schlinger owed Plaintiffs $206,875. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the district court's judgment on Appellees' breach of contract claim and rejected Appellants' argument that they should be awarded breach of contract damages, holding that the district court committed clear error in awarding damages as there was insufficient evidence in the record to justify an award of damages to either party; and (2) affirmed the district court's denial of Schlinger's claims for recovery under the theory of unjust enrichment, holding that Schlinger's claims were unsupported by the evidence. View "Schlinger v. McGhee" on Justia Law

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Decedent, as CEO of Corporation, purchased a cell phone retail outlet from Creditor for which Creditor accepted a promissory note from Corporation. Decedent signed the note as personal guarantor but died before completing payments. Two related legal actions followed: a California civil suit and this Wyoming probate action. Creditor filed a breach of contract action in California and a timely claim with Decedent's Estate in the Wyoming action. Creditor, however, failed to bring suit within thirty days after the date the Estate mailed a notice of rejection of the claim as required by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 2-7-718. Creditor then added the Estate as a defendant in the California action. In Wyoming, the probate court ruled that Creditor had not complied with section 2-7-718, that the Estate was not added to the California lawsuit until after the filing window had closed, and that Creditor should not receive equitable relief from strict application of the statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it declined to provide Creditor equitable relief under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 2-7-703(c) from application of the statute of limitations found in section 2-7-718. View "In re Estate of Graves" on Justia Law

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The Wyoming Division of Banking performed a Wyoming Uniform Consumer Credit Code compliance examination of Onyx Acceptance Corporation and determined it was improperly charging its Wyoming customers fees for making payments by telephone or internet. The Division ordered Onyx to stop charging the fees and refund the fees collected. The Office of Administrative Hearings issued a recommended order granting summary judgment for the Division. Consistent with the recommended decision, the administrator of the Code issued an order finding that Onyx violated the Code when it charged the fees. The district court reversed, concluding that the fees were not covered by the Code and, therefore, Onyx did not violate the Code by charging them to customers who opted to pay by phone or internet. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Onyx did not violate the Code and summary judgment in its favor was appropriate. Remanded. View "Vogel v. Onyx Acceptance Corp." on Justia Law

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Anthony Smith was involved in an accident that caused extensive damage to his vehicle, which was insured by State Farm. The vehicle was taken to Lewis Auto Body for repairs, after which State Farm determined that the car was a total loss. State Farm requested that Lewis release the vehicle. In response, Lewis requested payment from State Farm amounting to $30,816 for labor and storage. Lewis then asserted a lien against the vehicle in the amount of $30,816, conducted a lien sale, and obtained title to the vehicle. Smith filed a complaint for replevin and conversion. The district court granted summary judgment to Smith, finding Lewis did not file a valid lien and did not provide proper notice of the sale. Lewis then filed a complaint for money judgment against Smith. In response, Smith filed an emergency petition to prohibit the sale or other disposition of the vehicle. The district court consolidated the actions and awarded damages to Lewis in the amount of $20,516, including $15,240 in storage fees. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that Lewis was not entitled to accumulate storage charges after the date that a demand was made for the return of the automobile. Remanded. View "Smith v. Lewis Auto Body" on Justia Law