Thursday, August 14, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 94

Summary of Decision issued August 14, 2008

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

Case Name: Burnett v. Steeley

Citation: 2008 WY 94

Docket Number: S-07-0225; S-08-0051

Appeal from the District Court of Platte County, the Honorable John C. Brooks, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Jared S. Crecelius of Bailey, Stock & Harmon PC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: William L. Hiser of Brown & Hiser, LLC, Laramie, Wyoming.

Facts/Discussion: Following divorce proceedings, the district court entered a judgment requiring Burnett (Husband) to pay Steeley (Wife) the amount of $417,609 in cash or property by April 1, 2006. Burnett did not pay or make any effort to pay the judgment by the date due. The district court entered another order requiring Burnett to pay the amount owed to Steeley in cash. The court entered an order awarding Steeley attorney’s fees and costs.
Authority to Order Payment in Cash:
The judgment was to be paid by April1, 2006. It was not paid and Burnett’s initial offer to transfer property involved parcels to which he did not have clear title. Burnett’s subsequent offers of property appeared to have included provisions or complications making acceptance by Steeley impossible or at least difficult in light of her financial situation and her out of state residence. Once the judgment became final, Steeley had the legal right to proceed with enforcement. The district court had the discretion to determine the manner in which to enforce the judgment including the discretion to order Burnett to pay the unsatisfied amount in cash.
Order of Interest Deemed Proper:
Burnett claimed the district court erred in ordering him to pay interest on the judgment after May 1, 2007, the date when he offered to convey property by warranty deed to Steeley in satisfaction of the judgment. He contended that Steeley’s rejection of his offer tolled the accrual of statutory interest. The words “until paid” as used in § 1-16-102(a) do not require the payment of a judgment amount to be made and accepted by the prevailing party to toll the accrual of statutory interest. By paying the judgment to the district court, i.e. surrendering control to the court, the defendant has “paid” the judgment amount and stopped the accrual. Burnett did not pay the judgment amount to the district court. Depositing quitclaim deeds for property to which he did not have clear title did not constitute “payment” such as would stop the accrual of interest, nor did his offer to convey property by warranty deed upon receipt of $43,000 from Steeley.
Attorney’s Fees:
On appeal of an award of attorney’s fees, the burden is on the party attacking the district court’s ruling to show an abuse of discretion, and the ultimate issue is whether the court could reasonably conclude as it did. Upon consideration of the motions, affidavits and the arguments of counsel, the district court entered an order granting Steeley’s attorney’s fees motion. Given the evidence presented, Burnett did not meet his burden of showing an abuse of discretion.

Holding: After Burnett failed to satisfy the 2006 judgment, the district court had the authority to enforce it by ordering him to pay the unsatisfied amount in cash. They district court also properly ordered Burnett to pay statutory interest on the amount owing from the date it entered the judgment until it was paid. The court did not abuse its discretion when it awarded attorney’s fees Steeley incurred in enforcing the 2006 judgment.


J. Kite 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.]

No comments:

Check out our tags in a cloud (from Wordle)!