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In this appeal brought by Mother, the Supreme Court affirmed the divorce decree entered by the district court. The court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding Father primary physical custody of the parties’ daughter; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Mother’s motion to bifurcate the trial to separate the property distribution proceedings from child custody and support proceedings; and (3) this court declines to award sanctions under Wyo. R. App. P. 10.05(b), which authorizes the court to certify that there was no reasonable cause for an appeal and award attorney’s fees and damages. View "Ransom v. Ransom" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this case alleging that Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County was vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of a physician who worked at the hospital as an independent contractor, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court finding that the Hospital waived its immunity by purchasing liability insurance. The Hospital had moved for summary judgment on the ground that the physician was not a Hospital employee, and therefore, the Hospital was immune from liability for his acts or omissions. The district court denied the Hospital’s motion, finding that the Hospital waived its immunity to ostensible agency claims under the insurance exception at Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-39-118(b). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Hospital’s liability insurance did not provide coverage for liability beyond the liability defined by the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act, and (2) the Hospital’s liability insurance therefore did not extend the Hospital’s liability to include liability for its apparent agents. View "Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County v. Menapace" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order modifying the parties’ divorce decree by transferring primary physical custody of the parties’ child to Mother. In granting Mother’s petition to modify custody, visitation and support, the district court concluded that Mother had demonstrated that a material change in circumstances had occurred since entry of the decree and it was in the child’s best interests to modify the decree and award custody to Mother. The court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that there had been a material change in circumstances that affected the child since entry of the divorce decree; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by deciding that it was in the child’s best interests to award primary custody to Mother. View "Bishop v. Bishop" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion requesting that the criminal case against him be dismissed based upon the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against double jeopardy. A jury convicted Defendant of felonious restraint, strangulation of a household member, and domestic battery. Defendant’s first trial resulted in a mistrial at Defendant’s request after the district court concluded that the prosecutor asked Defendant improper questions during cross-examination. Before the second trial commenced, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him based on the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against double jeopardy. The district court denied the motion, explaining that there was no evidence that suggested the State had intentionally goaded Defendant into requesting a mistrial. Defendant was subsequently found guilty of felonious restraint, strangulation of a household member, and domestic battery. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s finding that the prosecutor did not goad Defendant into requesting a mistrial was not clearly erroneous. View "King v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s felony conviction for taking a controlled substance into a jail under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-5-208. That statute provides, in pertinent part, that “[e]xcept as authorized by a person in charge, a person commits a felony…if that person takes or passes any controlled substance or intoxicating liquor into a jail[.]” The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an arrestee can voluntarily take controlled substances into a jail; (2) the booking area is part of the jail; and (3) the prosecutor’s closing argument did not violate Defendant’s rights under the Fifth Amendment. View "Barrera v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Peak Powder River Resources, LLC (Peak) and against Bear Peak Resources, LLC (Bear) in this action alleging breach of contract, among other claims. Bear and Peak had agreed to work together in acquiring mineral interests for development, but Peak later obtained some mineral interests without compensating Bear and terminated the parties’ agreement. Bear filed suit. The district court determined that Peak was entitled to summary judgment on all of Bear’s claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) properly granted Peak’s motion for summary judgment on Bear’s breach of the implied covenant, breach of fiduciary duty, and accounting claims; (2) properly concluded that the parties’ contract was unambiguous; and (3) did not err in determining that Peak was entitled to summary judgment on several of the individual breach of contract claims, but genuine issues of material fact existed on the remaining claims. View "Bear Peak Resources, LLC v. Peak Powder River Resources, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order denying Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation - Wind River’s motion to compel arbitration in this wrongful death action. Aletha Boyd died following her discharge from Kindred. Aletha’s daughter, Susan Boyd, filed this action alleging that Kindred’s negligence in caring for Aletha caused her death. Kindred moved to compel arbitration pursuant to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) agreement signed by Leanna Putman, Aletha’s other daughter and representative under a power of attorney at the time of Aletha’s admission into the nursing home. The district court denied the motion without providing reasons for doing so. The Supreme Court remanded with instructions to order arbitration as required by the ADR agreement, holding (1) Putnam had the authority to sign the ADR agreement on Aletha’s behalf; and (2) the ADR was neither unconscionable nor lacked mutuality of assent or sufficient consideration. View "Kindred Heathcare Operating, Inc. v. Boyd" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for interfering with a peace officer, in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-5-204(b). The statute provides that “[a] person who intentionally and knowingly causes or attempts to cause bodily injury to a peace officer engaged in the lawful performance of his duties is guilty of a felony[.]” On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction because there was insufficient evidence that he intentionally kicked the peace officer and that he caused bodily injury to the officer. In affirming Defendant’s conviction, the Supreme Court held that the State provided sufficient evidence to support its charge that Defendant intentionally and knowingly caused bodily injury to the officer. View "Flores v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that a California court probate order distributing the estate of Lon V. Smith and a Wyoming court probate order to distribute the decedent’s Wyoming property, including a Carbon County overriding royalty interest (ORRI), governed, regardless of Mr. Smith’s intent as expressed in his will. In his will, Smith intended for the ORRI to be distributed to his wife, Marguerite B. Smith, for her life, and then to be distributed to the Lon V. Smith Foundation. The probate court orders distributed the ORRI to Mrs. Smith under the will’s residuary clause. The district court ruled that the Marguerite Brown Smith Trust (the beneficiary under Mrs. Smith’s will) owned the ORRI, not the Foundation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) correctly determined that the California probate order and the Wyoming ancillary probate ordered governed and that the Trust was the owner of the ORRI; (2) properly granted summary judgment to Devon Energy Corporation and Devon Energy Production Co. (collectively, Devon) on the Foundation’s claim that Devon violated the Wyoming Royalty Payment Act (WRPA); and (3) correctly found that neither party was entitled to attorney fees under the WRPA. View "Lon V. Smith Foundation v. Devon Energy Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision affirming the decision of the Medical Commission, which sustained the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division’s termination of Sarah Morris’s temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. The Division terminated the TTD benefits after determining that Morris had reached maximum medical improvement. The Supreme Court held (1) the Commission appropriately determined that Morris had reached MMI and terminated her TTD benefits; and (2) substantial evidence existed to support the Commission’s decision that Morris’s injury to her right knee was not work-related. View "Morris v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law