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Plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action against the Teton County Assessor seeking a declaration that the trusts for which it acted as trustee were charitable trusts within the meaning of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 4-10-406(a) and were exempt from taxation under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-11-105(xix). The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the primary jurisdiction doctrine made dismissal of the action appropriate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Plaintiff failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before filing a complaint in the district court, the district court properly dismissed the complaint; and (2) to the extent Plaintiff may have properly invoked the district court’s jurisdiction the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the primary jurisdiction doctrine warranted dismissal of the action in favor of review through the administrative process. View "Thomas Gilcrease Foundation v. Cavallaro" on Justia Law

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Mother appealed after the district court entered an order terminating Mother’s parental rights. The order followed a jury verdict finding that the Department of Family Services had proven two statutory grounds to terminate Mother’s parental rights to Child. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err (1) when it allowed the guardian ad litem (GAL) to actively participate in the termination proceedings where the GAL was required to participate fully in the termination proceedings; and (2) when it allowed Mother’s mental health providers to testify at trial over Mother’s claim of privilege. View "Cave v. State, Department of Family Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In 1995, Appellant pled guilty to second-degree murder. In 2016, Appellant filed the two motions at issue in this appeal. The first motion was a request that the district court order the Wyoming Department of Corrections to provide a copy of all of Defendant’s records at the State’s expense. The second motion was “time line…on how much time the Defendant would have to serve” and an order requiring that he receive parole. The district court denied both motions. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the district court had no jurisdiction to consider either of Appellant’s motions because appellant provided no cogent argument or relevant authority demonstrating that the district court had jurisdiction to grant the relief he requested. The court further ordered Appellant to show cause why the filing restrictions stated in this opinion should not be imposed. View "Barela v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Appellant appealed his convictions for kidnapping and misdemeanor theft of a cell phone, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a reasonable jury could have found from the facts presented that the time the victim was forced to spend in her house with Appellant was sufficient to constitute confinement within the meaning of Wyoming’s kidnapping statute; and (2) there were sufficient facts for a jury to reasonably conclude that each of the elements of misdemeanor theft relating to the taking of an Apple iPhone was proven beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Dockter v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Appellant entered into a lease with a Mall to operate a restaurant. The lease required Mall to pay Appellant a finish allowance when certain provisions had been satisfied. The condition at the heart of this dispute required Appellant to provide the Mall evidence that any liens had been satisfied or waived and that “all work has been paid for” before the finish allowance became due. Appellant hired a general contractor to renovate the space. Appellant paid the general contractor in full, but the general contractor did not pay all of the subcontractors. When the Mall did not pay the finish allowance, Appellant filed this lawsuit alleging, inter alia, breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Mall. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the unambiguous terms of the lease required evidence that the general contractor and subcontractors had been paid in full before the Mall was obligated to pay the finish allowance. View "P & N Investments, LLC v. Frontier Mall Associates, LP" on Justia Law

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A jury found Defendant guilty of one count of aggravated assault and battery after he hit Sam Trujillo with his vehicle. The trial court sentenced Defendant to two to four years in prison. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction, thus rejecting Defendant’s contention that his conviction should be reversed due to the ineffective assistance of counsel he received at trial. The court held that trial counsel was not ineffective in failing to request either an accident instruction or a defense of others jury instruction. View "Starr v. State" on Justia Law

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The Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division covered the surgery on Jeffrey Baker’s shoulder, which was injured at work. The Division, however, denied Baker’s subsequent request for temporary total disability benefits related to a neck injury Baker claimed occurred with the shoulder surgery. The Medical Commission Hearing Panel denied Baker’s claim on review, determining that Baker failed to prove a causal relationship between his neck injury and the work-related accident. The district court upheld the decision of the Commission. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission’s determination was supported by substantial evidence. View "Baker v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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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

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Appellants sued the town of Alpine, alleging claims stemming from Alpine’s financing and construction of a new sewage treatment facility. Appellants sought a declaration that Alpine’s loans for the new sewage treatment facility exceeded the town’s constitutional and statutory indebtedness limits. Appellant’s also asserted a claim for injunctive relief to stop Alpine from enforcing assessments and exactions for the new sewerage system on Appellants. A few years later, while the original case was proceeding, Appellants filed another action against Alpine and Nelson Engineering, claiming that Alpine and Nelson made false reports to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality that Appellants had violated the agency’s rules and regulations when they upgraded their septic systems. The district court granted Alpine’s motion to dismiss all claims against the town and granted Nelson’s motion for summary judgment on all claims against the engineering firm. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Appellants sufficiently pled standing to pursue their declaratory judgment claim against Alpine; (2) the allegations supporting Appellants’ claim for injunctive relief against Alpine were legally sufficient; and (3) the district court’s respective orders on all the remaining claims in the two cases against Alpine and Nelson were not in error. View "Tavern, LLC v. Town of Alpine" on Justia Law

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Wallace Burnett, who owned eleven of the 604 outstanding shares of Burnett Ranch, Inc., filed suit against his three siblings and his son, who owned the other shares. Burnett presented claims for, inter alia, a preliminary injunction to prevent the transfer of corporate assets, an accounting, and a winding-up of the corporation and sale of its assets. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Burnett failed to provide cogent argument to support his claims on appeal and failed to comply with the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure. Burnett’s failures led the court to certify that there was no reasonable cause for this appeal and to award penalties in accordance with Wyo. R. App. P. 10.05(b). View "Burnett v. Burnett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law