Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
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In this inverse condemnation action the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court entering judgment of a matter of law that Appellant failed to establish a taking and failed to provide proof of damages, holding that the trial court did not err in granting a directed verdict based on insufficient evidence of the value of Appellant's property. In her action, Appellant alleged that a road expansion project took a portion of her real property in Johnson County. The trial court entered a judgment as a matter of law, concluding that Appellant did not meet her burden to show that a taking occurred and that the evidence would be inadequate to prove any measure of damages for a partial taking. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly entered a judgment as a matter of law that Appellant failed to establish a taking and failed to provide proof of damages. View "Byrnes v. Johnson County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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In this complaint for establishment of a private road the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court adopting the viewers and appraisers' recommendations regarding the route conditions and use restrictions, and damages, holding that the court erred in its award of damages. Appellee brought this action proposing that the court designate a route along an existing, unnamed, two-track road that is already subject to easements. The district court appointed three viewers to assess the proposed routes and submit recommendations to the court for the private road, any conditions and restrictions that should be placed on the private road, and damages. The district court determined that the viewers' route represented the most reasonable and convenient route for the private road, declined to impose Appellants' requested restrictions, and adopted the viewers' recommendation as to damages. The Supreme Court remanded for further proceedings on damages, holding that the district court (1) did not err when it designated the viewers' route for Appellee's private road; (2) did not err when it declined to limit use of the private road to a single family dwelling and agricultural purposes and to prohibit Appellee from using it for subdivision; but (3) erred in its award of damages. View "Sharpe v. Timchula" on Justia Law

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In this action brought by Plaintiff seeking to collect on a promissory note the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendants' motions to dismiss and granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff, holding that the district court did not err in its rulings. Defendants executed the promissory note in Idaho and delivered it to Plaintiffs in payment for real estate located in Idaho. The note was originally secured by a deed of trust in the property. Plaintiff later sued Defendants in the district court in Teton County, Wyoming seeking to collect on the note. Defendants filed motions to dismiss on the basis that the Wyoming district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and the lawsuit was time barred. The district court denied the motions to dismiss and granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the circumstances of this case, the district court had subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction over Defendants; (2) the district court properly applied the correct Idaho statute of limitations; and (3) the district court did not err in awarding interest, attorney's fees and costs to Plaintiff. View "Woodie v. Whitesell" on Justia Law

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In this adverse possession case involving two cattle ranches the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. Defendant owned a ranch that was historically known as Burnett Ranch. Plaintiffs were the most recent owners of Warbonnet Ranch. Plaintiffs filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and petition to quiet title with respect to three non-contiguous parcels of property that were deeded to Plaintiffs but fenced into Burnett Ranch. Defendant counterclaimed for adverse possession of those parcels. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded entry of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. View "Little Medicine Creek Ranch, Inc. v. D'elia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court partitioning a vacant lot that Rhonda Gallagher and Curtis Townsend owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, holding that the district court improperly partitioned the property. Gallagher filed suit seeking partition of the lot she and Townsend owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. The district court ordered the sale of the lot if neither party elected to purchase the other party's share and that equitable division of the proceeds was proper. After valuing the property at $33,500, the court ordered that Townsend was entitled to the first $25,017.20 in proceeds from the sale of the property. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court properly concluded that each party owned an undivided, one-half interest in the property; (2) after deciding the parties' interests, the district court erred by exercising its equitable powers to divest Gallagher of her interest in the property; and (3) the district court clearly erred in finding that Townsend paid $4,251.53 in property taxes. View "Gallagher v. Townsend" on Justia 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