Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 69

Summary of Decision issued June 19, 2008

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Case Name: Comet Energy Services, LLC v. Powder River Oil & Gas Ventures, LLC

Citation: 2008 WY 69

Docket Number: S-07-0063

Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County, the Dan R. Price II, Judge.

Representing Appellant (Defendant): Thomas F. Reese and Orintha E. Karns of Brown, Drew & Massey, LLP, Casper, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Blade M. Pickett of Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley, PC, Denver, Colorado.

Facts/Discussion: Comet appealed from the denial of its cross motion for summary judgment and from the award of summary judgment in favor of Powder River. The dispute was over the proper interpretation of an assignment of certain interests.
The dispute centered on the meaning of the term “leasehold estate” as used in the 1998 Assignment. The parties interpreted the term quite differently. The Court reiterated that they will construe contract language in the context within which it was written, looking to the surrounding circumstances, the subject matter, and the purpose of the agreement to ascertain the intent of the parties at the time the agreement was made. In cases requiring the interpretation of a contract, a summary judgment is appropriate only if the contract is clear and unambiguous. The meaning of terms and conditions and the intent of the parties generally are questions of fact to be resolved by the fact-finder. The parties disputed the effect, significance, and legitimacy of much of the evidence. The Court found it impossible to reasonably discern the intent of the parties by only looking within the four corners of the Assignment because the term “leasehold estate” is obscure in its meaning and because it could reasonably be interpreted to have more than one meaning.

Holding: The Court held that the district court improperly determined that summary judgment was appropriate under the facts of the case. The term “leasehold estate” as used in the 1998 assignment was ambiguous which gave rise to a genuine issue of material fact concerning the intent of the parties to the assignment.

Reversed and remanded.

C.J. Voigt delivered the decision.

Link: .

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

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