Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
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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

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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