Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order on summary judgment motions and order after bench trial in this dispute arising from an ill-conceived business conveyance plan during a downturn in the oil market, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in any respect. Three Garland brothers, who had separate entities providing specialized services to the oil industry, formed a company with their companies as members and the Garlands individually as members. Alex Mantle was president of the company. Mantle and the Garlands later entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) providing that Mantle and his wife would buy the company, but Mantle backed out of the deal. The Garlands liquidated the company, and this litigation followed. The district court disposed of some claims on summary judgment and resolved the remainder after a bench trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Garlands and their entities did not abandon their counterclaims; (2) the MOU was an enforceable contract; (3) the district court correctly dismissed the Mantles’ fraud claim; (4) the district court correctly concluded that some conveyances by the Garlands fit the definitions of a fraudulent conveyance; (5) the elements for LLC veil-piercing were absent; and (6) the Garlands did not owe Mantle a duty of good faith. View "Garland v. Mantle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the district court's judgment granting JLC Wyoming LLC a deficiency judgment against Stanley Thomas for the unpaid amount of a judgment against Fourth Quarter Properties 86 (FQP) and Thomas, holding that the district court did not credit Thomas with all payments made against an earlier judgment. FQP and Thomas obtained a $30 million loan from MetLife Insurance (MLIC) with a ranch as collateral, but when they could no longer make the payments, MLIC obtained a judgment against them for the outstanding balance plus interest (the judgment). Before the foreclosure sale, FQP filed for bankruptcy protection. MLIC purchased the ranch at a foreclosure sale. MLIC then sold its rights to the ranch and the remaining balance on the judgment to JLC. JLC obtained a deficiency judgment against Thomas for the unpaid amount of the judgment. The Supreme Court held (1) Thomas, a non-party to FQP’s bankruptcy case, was not entitled to the reduced amount FQP negotiated with MLIC in the bankruptcy case for the outstanding judgment; and (2) the district failed properly to credit Thomas for prior payments he and FQP made against the judgment. View "Thomas v. JLC Wyoming, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Sellers in this case involving a purchase of residential property, holding that the district court did not err in the proceedings below. After Buyers purchased residential property from Sellers, Buyers alleged that Sellers failed to comply with the requirement in the purchase contract that “Seller…complete a fully functional water well prior to closing” and thus breached the contract. The district court entered judgment in favor of Sellers. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in ruling that Sellers completed a functional well by closing and thus did not breach the purchase contract; and (2) did not commit reversible error by excluding particular testimony or exhibits offered by Buyers. View "Schell v. Scallon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court vesting title to a portion of Louise Galiher’s property in Dennis and Vicky Johnson by adverse possession, holding the district court’s findings of fact were not clearly erroneous and that the facts supported a finding of adverse possession. Galiher sued to quiet title to the disputed property, alleging that the Johnsons’ use of her property had been permissive. The Johnsons counterclaimed, seeking to quiet title to the disputed parcel based upon adverse possession. The district court concluded that the Johnsons had proven their adverse possession claim. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for consideration of the totality of the evidence. On remand, the district court again concluded that title to the parcel had vested in the Johnsons. The supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s conclusion was supported by the record. View "Galiher v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed an order denying Appellant’s claim that his paintings were statutorily exempt from execution to satisfy a judgment debt, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that the paintings were not exempt from execution as “pictures” under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-20-106(a)(i). RADC/CADC Venture, LLC, which obtained a judgment against Appellant for nearly two million dollars, assigned its interest in the judgment to Radiance Capital Receivables Nineteen, LLC (Radiance). Radiance then applied for a writ of execution to be issued against Appellant’s real, personal and equitable assets located in Teton County. The Teton County Sheriff attached Appellant’s property, which included more than thirty works of art consisting primarily of paintings. On appeal, Appellant argued that his paintings were “pictures” that qualified for the exemption set forth in section 1-20-106(a)(i). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the term “pictures” in the statute did not extend to Appellant’s paintings. View "Crow v. 2010-1 RADC/CADC Venture, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the decision of the Wyoming State Board of Equalization (state) reversing the decision of the Washakie County Board of Equalization (county board) reversing the valuations of the Washakie County Assessor classifying Taxpayers’ four properties as either residential or vacant residential for tax purposes, holding that Taxpayers’ property did not qualify for classification as agricultural lands. Taxpayers separately owned four parcels of land in Washakie County, Wyoming. In March 2014, the Assessor issued notices of assessment for Taxpayers’ properties classifying the parcels as either residential or residential vacant. The county board reversed the valuations, concluding that Taxpayers had demonstrated that their properties met the four requirements under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-13-103(b)(x)(B) to be taxed as agricultural land. The state board reversed. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Taxpayers failed to meet their burden to overcome the presumption in favor of the Assessor’s assessments. View "Helmut v. Mueller Limited Partnership v. Treanor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision ruling generally in favor of Judy Weeks-Rohner in this quiet title action brought by the Estate of Jack Winford Weeks, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion. When Jack Weeks and Judy Weeks-Rohner divorced, the divorce decree directed that their jointly owned home would remain in Weeks’ possession, subject to a trust for their minor son. The trust, however, was never formed. After the son and then Weeks died, the Estate of Jack Weeks filed a quiet title action against Weeks-Rohner, asserting adverse possession of the property. Weeks-Rohner counterclaimed, requesting that the court enforce the divorce decree by quieting title to the property in the deceased son and/or his heirs. The district court ruled generally in favor of Weeks-Rohner. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in quieting title to the property in both parties with each owning an undivided one-half interest as tenants in common; (2) there was no error in the district court’s rejection of the Estate’s adverse possession claim; and (3) the court was within its inherent authority when it enforced its decree by ordering the parties to place the property in a trust for the deceased son. View "Estate of Jack Winford Weeks v. Weeks-Rohner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict awarding Basic Properties, Inc. $200,000 in damages for Essex Holding, LLC’s refusal to consent to amend restrictive covenants to allow Basic to develop one of its lots in a shopping center. The Court held (1) Essex timely filed its notice of appeal; (2) Basic had standing to assert its counterclaim; (3) the district court did not err when its submitted Basic’a counterclaim for breach of contract to the jury; (4) the jury instructions rejecting Essex’s theory regarding a void amendment did not constitute plain error; (5) cumulative error did not result in an excess verdict or a verdict contrary to law; (6) the district court properly granted basic’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on Essex’s anticipatory repudiation claim; (7) the district court did not err in its award of attorney fees and costs to Basic; and (8) the district court properly denied Essex’s Wyo. R. Civ. P. 60(b) motion. View "Essex Holding, LLC v. Basic Properties, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s declaratory judgment action against the Laramie County Clerk asking that a Notice of Federal Tax Lien (NFTL) be declared invalid and the NFTL be removed from Plaintiff’s property record, holding that the complaint failed to state a cognizable claim. In 2007, the IRS filed the NFTL at issue against real property owned by Plaintiff. In 2017, Plaintiff filed this action. The district court dismissed the complaint, determining that it was barred by the applicable statute of limitations and that it failed to state a claim for which relief may be granted under Wyo. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Supreme Court affirmed after finding a single issue as dispositive, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim because a county clerk has no authority or discretion to consider the underlying basis for a federal tax lien or notice of lien, or to declare the invalidity of the lien, which is the relief Plaintiff sought. View "Tuttle v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendants in this quiet title action challenging the enforceability of a plat restriction that barred Plaintiffs’ use of a portion of their own property. Plaintiffs owned Lot 8 in a subdivision. Defendants owned Lot 7. The plat restriction at issue in this case barred Plaintiffs’ use of a portion of Lot 8 and gave exclusive use of and responsibility for that property to Defendants. The district court concluded that the plat restriction contained in the subdivision’s recorded plat created an enforceable covenant appurtenant to Lot 8. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the plat restriction did not fail for lack of definition; (2) Plaintiffs’ challenges to the enforceability of the plat restriction on public policy grounds failed; and (3) there was no impediment in an access easement to the enforceability of the plat restriction. View "Reichert v. Daugherty" on Justia Law