Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court

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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

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Several individuals (collectively, “the Wimers”) filed a complaint against their neighbors (collectively, “the Cooks”) seeking an injunction prohibiting the Cooks from carrying out their plan of placing multiple single-family housing structures on a twenty-acre parcel of land, alleging that the Cooks’ plan for the property violated the neighborhood’s covenants. The Cooks counterclaimed and filed a third-party complaint against all of the landowners in the area seeking a declaration that the covenants had been abandoned due to various covenant violations. The district court determined that the covenants had not been abandoned and that the Cooks’ plan to develop the land did not violate the covenants. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) properly concluded that the covenants were not abandoned; and (2) erred in concluding that the Cooks’ plan did not violate the covenants, as the covenants prohibit multiple single-family dwellings on a parcel. View "Wimer v. Cook" on Justia Law

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Landowners' neighbors filed with the Board of County Commissioners a petition for establishment of a county road along an unsurveyed legal description that closely equated to Landowners' driveway. The Board dismissed the petition, determining that Landowners' driveway already was part of a previously established county road. The district court remanded to the Board to conduct a survey of the county road to determine whether Landowners' driveway was indeed part of the county road. Upon remand, rather than obtaining a survey of the driveway or county road as ordered, the Board declared that the driveway was part of the county road. The district court again remanded. Some time later, the county attorney informed Landowners that the Board did not intend to change its position that Landowners' driveway was part of the existing county road. Landowners sued the Board for inverse condemnation, trespass, and ejectment. The district court granted summary judgment to the Board, concluding that the inverse condemnation claims were barred by limitations and that the trespass and ejectment claims failed as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed the district court as to the inverse condemnation claims, holding that Landowners' claims were filed within the applicable statute of limitations. Remanded. View "Smith v. Bd. of County Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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C&J, LLC owned 2.04 acres of property. The northern portion was zoned for commercial use, and the southern portion was zoned for a single-family residence. C&J filed an application requesting approval to develop the single-family residential zone. The Teton County Board of Commissioners approved C&J's final development plan application allowing C&J to construct five residential units and one affordable housing unit in the single-family residential zone. It also allowed commercial parking and other commercial uses. Appellant Wilson Advisory Committee, a non-profit corporation representing citizens concerned about the development of Wilson, petitioned for judicial review. The district court affirmed the Board's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and remanded to require the Board to make findings called for by its own regulations as to whether or not the proposed location and density improved scenic views and lessened adverse environmental impacts. View "Wilson Advisory Comm. v. Bd. of County Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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Roundup Heights, a subdivision in Laramie County, was located within one mile of the City of Cheyenne. The owners of certain lots applied for County approval of a partial vacation of the subdivision plat. The County granted the partial vacation without City approval despite the City's contention that the partial vacation required joint approval by both the City and the County. The City filed suit, seeking declaratory judgment that joint City and County approval was required for partial vacation if the affected land was within one mile of the City. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the County. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the relevant statutes unambiguously do not require joint City and County approval of partial vacations if the affected property is wholly within the County. View "City of Cheyenne v. Laramie County Bd. of Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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After Swan Ranch was annexed by the City of Cheyenne in 2009, Appellants, neighbors to the land being annexed, filed a declaratory judgment action against the City alleging that the annexation was invalid under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 15-1-402(a). Ultimately, the district court granted the City's responding summary judgment argument on two claims and conducted trial on the third and final claim. Following trial, the district court found the annexation was proper. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's decision upholding the Swan Ranch annexation was not clearly erroneous, as "the degree of contact, the location, and the character of the annexed parcel" were sufficient to satisfy the statutory requirements for annexation under section 15-1-402. View "Hough v. City of Cheyenne" on Justia Law

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This case concerned a petition for the establishment of a private road filed by Merlin and Lori Zowada. In the first appeal, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the district court for further remand to the county board of county commissioners (the Commission) to make adequate findings of fact on specific issues. While the case was pending before the Court, the legislature amended Wyo. Stat. Ann. 24-9-101, which governs the procedure used when petitioning for the establishment of a private road. On remand, the Commission and its hearing officer chose to apply the statute as amended in 2008 and 2009, although the case had originally proceeded under the statute as it existed in 2005. Mullinax filed a petition for writ of review, arguing that the 2005 version of the statute should apply to the proceedings. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the hearing officer's decision to apply the statute as it existed in 2009 was in error, as, while the amendments to the statute were procedural in nature, the general rule against retroactive application of the amendment applied. Remanded. View "Mullinax Concrete Serv. v. Zowada" on Justia Law

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In 2008, the Teton County Commission approved a parcel boundary adjustment application regarding certain real property located in Teton County. Appellees, several individuals, sought judicial review of the Commission's decision. In 2008 and 2009, respectively, Appellants, Mark Menolascino and William Hirshberg, purchased the property. Neither sought to intervene in the judicial review proceedings. In 2011, the reviewing district court reversed the Commission's decision. The parties to the original administrative proceedings declined to appeal the ruling. Appellants, however, filed a notice of appeal. They contemporaneously filed a motion to intervene in the district court proceedings for the sole purpose of pursuing the appeal therefrom. The district court denied their motion to intervene, a decision which Appellants also appealed. The Supreme Court consolidated the appeals and (1) affirmed the district court's denial of Appellants' request to interview in the judicial review proceedings; and (2) dismissed Appellants' appeal of the final order of the district court for lack of standing because of Appellants' status as nonparties. View "Hirshberg v. Coon" on Justia Law

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After Barbara Magin purchased property in the Solitude subdivision, the Solitude site committee informed her that pre-existing fences and a barn were in violation of the subdivision covenants. Solitude filed a complaint against Magin, alleging violations of the covenants and seeking to recover attorney fees. Attorney Glenn Ford, who practiced in the same firm as the first attorney Magin hired before retaining other counsel, acted as Solitude's counsel. No written waiver of conflict was executed. Magin filed a motion to disqualify Ford from acting as Solitude's counsel due to conflict of interest. The motion was dismissed. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Solitude. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Solitude's counsel had a conflict of interest, but the district court did not err by refusing to disqualify the firm because Magin's motion to disqualify was untimely; (2) the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Solitude; and (3) the district court abused its discretion by ordering Magin to pay the attorney fees generated by her former firm because it failed to segregate the non-recoverable fees associated with clearing the conflict.

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In consolidated appeals, plaintiff challenged the district court's conclusions that its property was properly included in the South of Laramie Water and Sewer District ("district") and that the district lawfully issued certain general obligation bonds. Plaintiff also challenged the refusal of the Board of County Commissioners of Albany County ("board") to exclude plaintiff's property from the district. The court affirmed Docket No. S-10-0199 and held that plaintiff was barred from challenging the inclusion of its property in the district and found that the district's proposed general obligation bond issue was not unlawful. In Docket No. S-10-0238, the court answered certified questions related to the Wyoming board of county commissioners' power to remove real property from a water and sewer district and the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim under W.R.C.P. 12(b)(6). The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of Claim I under section 12(b)(6) where a motion to dismiss under section 12(b)(6) was an appropriate vehicle in which to raise the issue of the passage of a period of limitations; where Wyo. State. Ann 41-10-107(g) unambiguously forbade any "petition in error [or] other appeal" from a board's resolution establishing a water district, and unambiguously stated that the "organization of the district shall not be directly or collaterally questioned in any suit, action or proceeding" except "an action in the nature of a writ of quo warranto, commenced by the attorney general within thirty (30) days after the resolution..."; and where there was no inherent right to appeal from administrative action.