Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 127

Summary of Decision issued October 15, 2008

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

Case Name: Ringolsby, Jr. v. Johnson

Citation: 2008 WY 127

Docket Number: S-08-0022

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, the Honorable Keith G. Kautz, Judge.

Representing Appellants: John B. “Jack” Speight and Robert T. McCue of Speight, McCue & Associates, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellees: James R. Salisbury and Don W. Riske of Riske, Salisbury & Kelly, PC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Facts/Discussion: Appellants Ringolsby and Swanhorst appeal from the district court’s order denying their claim for attorneys’ fees. One issue was presented for review: whether the trial court abused its discretion by ruling that Appellants did not meet their burden of proving the reasonableness of their attorneys' fees where Appellant submitted redacted billing statements along with an offer of in camera review to the trial court.
Wyoming has adopted the federal lodestar test for the determination of reasonableness of attorneys’ fees which requires that two factors be considered: whether the fee charged represents the product of reasonable hours times a reasonable rate and whether other factors of discretionary application should be considered to adjust the fee either upward or downward. Appellants made no showing of the nature of the services performed in the instant case. In looking at the redacted billing statements, the district court had no way of ascertaining the nature of the services performed, and thus the reasonableness of such services. The affidavit provided did not contain enough explanation to serve as a sufficient basis to determine the reasonableness of the fees.
The trial court held that the suggestion for the Court to review the statements provided by Appellants and then request review in camera if necessary amounted to a request that the Court first determine whether Plaintiffs met their burden of proof and then give them a second chance to meet the burden of proof. The Wyoming Supreme Court has specifically rejected such attempts to prove reasonable attorney fees after once failing to do so.

Holding: The district court did not abuse its discretion by ruling that Appellants did not meet their burden of proof in establishing the reasonableness of their attorneys’ fees based on the fact that they did not prove the fees in conformity with the requirements of precedent.


District Judge Cranfill delivered the decision.


[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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