Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

by
Appellants sought the establishment of a private road along the upper portion of Black Mountain Road in Big Horn County, but the Big Horn County Board of County Commissioners established a private road along the lower portion of Black Mountain Road. Appellants argued that the route was illogical, unproductive, and uneconomic and was procedurally barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the district court’s earlier decision in a decision letter did not address the question of whether the proposed private road was reasonable or convenient, collateral estoppel and law of the case did not apply; and (2) the Board’s conclusion that Lower Black Mountain Road was more reasonable and convenient than Upper Black Mountain Road was supported by substantial evidence. View "Whaley v. Flitner Limited Partnership" on Justia Law

by
Clare Sikora filed a declaratory judgment action against the City of Rawlins challenging the City’s issuance of a building permit to her next-door neighbors, Jared and Kasandra Ramsey. The district court ruled in favor of the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly found that Sikora failed to exhaust her administrative remedies; and (2) the district court did not err in finding that the the municipal ordinance governing restoration of a nonconforming building allows for demolition of the nonconforming building and reconstruction of the building within the same footprint - the type of construction undertaken by the Ramseys. View "Sikora v. City of Rawlins" on Justia Law

by
In this dispute between property owners regarding a mistaken property boundary, the district court concluded that Appellees had acquired title to the property at issue by adverse possession. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) contrary to Appellants’ arguments, Appellees’ possession of the property was “hostile,” and the conveyance of the property to Appellants by their predecessors in interest did not divest Appellees of any claim they had to the property by adverse possession; and (2) Appellees’ request for sanctions under Wyo. R. Civ. P. 10.05 is denied because the Court cannot certify that Appellants had no reasonable cause for this appeal. View "Osuch v. Gunnels" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court answered a question of law regarding the relative priority of liens against real property as follows: A lien against real property created by a certificate of purchase for delinquent taxes pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-13-108(d)(ii) is superior to any lien held by the State of Wyoming, Department of Workforce Services under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-3-511(b) for unpaid contributions and interest to the unemployment compensation fund. The question was certified to the Court by the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming and conceded real estate in Uinta County and encumbrances against the property arising from the failure of a corporation to satisfy various financial obligations. View "Brock v. State, ex rel. Wyoming Workforce Services, Unemployment Insurance Division" on Justia Law

by
In this dispute between two neighboring Park County communities - the China Wall Tract and the Copperleaf Subdivision - the district court interpreted the China Wall Tract’s restrictive covenants in a manner that will allow Copperleaf property owners access to and through certain areas in the China Wall Tract. The Gumpel Family Trust, which owned property in the China Wall Tract, appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, as modified, holding (1) the district court did not err in interpreting the covenants; but (2) the court’s holding is modified to clarify that an “invitee” and an “owner” do not share equivalent rights under the covenants. View "Gumpel v. Copperleaf Homeowners Ass’n, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Louise Galiher sued to quiet title to a portion of her property, alleging that the use of the disputed portion of her property by Dennis Johnson and his wife had been permissive. The Johnsons counterclaimed seeking to quiet title to the disputed parcel based upon adverse possession. After a bench trial, the district court concluded that the Johnsons had proven their adverse possession claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court committed prejudicial error when it determined it could not consider Johnson’s out-of-court statements as evidence that his use of the disputed property had always been permissive. Remanded. View "Galiher v. Johnson" on Justia Law

by
David Halling and Joyce Halling each purchased from Brandon Bentley an undivided half interest in certain property. Joyce, individually and as president of MedCon, Inc. (MedCon), executed a promissory note and mortgage as security for the note in favor of Bentley and for the purchase price of fifty percent of the lot. David, individually and as manager of Professional Business Holdings, LP (PBH), executed a mortgage in favor of Bentley on PBH’s half interest as security for the purchase price of the other fifty percent. Thereafter, Bentley assigned his rights and interests in the PBH mortgage to a bank and his rights and interests in the MedCon note and mortgage to David Yovanovich. Yovanovich sued MedCon, alleging that it failed to pay the amount due under the note. The district court granted summary judgment for Yovanovich. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court did not err in concluding that Yovanovich had an enforceable contract against MedCon and that the Yovanovich assignment was not ambiguous; (2) the court’s damages calculation was not clearly erroneous; (3) the court erred when it failed to award prejudgment interest; and (4) the court did not err when it failed to specify post-judgment interest in its order. Remanded. View "Halling v. Yovanovich" on Justia Law

by
The parties in this case disputed title to certain mineral interests underlying certain property. The dispute arose out of a 1911 Laramie County tax assessment against Union Pacific’s mineral interests in the property and the county’s subsequent tax sale and issuance of a tax deed for the property. Family Tree Corporation, which claimed title to portions of the minerals, filed a complaint for quiet title and declaratory judgment against Three Sisters LLC, which also claimed an ownership in the minerals, and Anardarko Land Corporation. The district court quieted title to Family Tree based upon the 1912 tax sale. Anadarko appealed, arguing that the 1911 tax assessment against the minerals was unconstitutional, and therefore, the resulting tax sale and deed were void. The Supreme Court affirmed after drawing the line between a tax assessment defect that will render a tax deed void and one that will render the tax deed viable, holding (1) the error in Laramie County’s tax assessment against the minerals at issue rendered the resulting tax deed voidable, not void; and (2) accordingly, Anadarko’s challenge to the validity of the tax deed was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Anadarko Land Corp. v. Family Tree Corp." on Justia Law

by
After Crook County Weed and Pest Control District applied herbicides to control leafy spurge found on property owned by Bush Land Development Company and Victoria Bush (collectively, Bush), many trees in the area of the spraying died. Bush filed this inverse condemnation action in the district court alleging that it was entitled to just compensation for the loss of its trees as a result of the District’s improper application of herbicides. The district court dismissed Bush’s claim, concluding that the action was not proper under the inverse condemnation statute. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, concluding that the inverse condemnation was not properly before the district court because Bush failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before claiming inverse condemnation. View "Bush Land Development Co. v. Crook County Weed & Pest Control District" on Justia Law

by
In 1951, the State issued two oil and gas leases covering land in Sublette County. One of these leases (the 505 Lease) covered 160 acres, and the other lease (the 529 Lease) covered 480 acres. The leases were later assigned to Continental Oil Company, and the assignor, Walter Davis, reserved a four percent overriding royalty interest in both leases. Davis’s mineral interests were later awarded to Robert Floyd. In 1979, after the 505 and 529 Leases terminated and the acreage was combined into a single parcel, the State granted Dr. Robert Ribbe Lease 79-0645, which covered all 640 acres. In 2011, Robert Floyd filed suit, arguing that Davis’s four percent overriding royal interest should have attached to the Ribbe Lease. The district court concluded that Appellants, QEP Energy Company and Wexpro Company, were liable for more than thirty million dollars in unpaid royalties. The district court denied Appellants’ motion for a new trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Ribbe lease was not a renewal lease, substitute lease, or new lease issued in lieu of the 505 and 529 Leases, and therefore, the overriding royalty interest did not attach to the Ribbe Lease. View "Questar Exploration & Production Co. v. Rocky Mountain Resources, LLC" on Justia Law