Friday, December 12, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 145

Summary of Decision issued December 10, 2008

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

Case Name: Belden v. Thorkildsen

Citation: 2008 WY 145

Docket Number: S-08-0021

Appeal from the District Court of Teton County, the Honorable Nancy J. Guthrie, Judge.

Representing Appellant Belden: Richard J. Mulligan, Mulligan Law Office and Heather Noble, Jackson, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee Thorkildsen: David G. Lewis, Jackson, Wyoming.

Facts/Discussion: Previously, the Court reversed a judgment in favor of Thorkildsen because the district court specifically declined to consider parol evidence of an alleged oral agreement regarding repayment of the loan at issue. Following remand, the district court once again entered judgment in favor of Thorkildsen. The district court found that Belden had failed to prove the existence of an oral agreement for repayment of the loan and also found against Belden on her claim that she was an accommodation party to the promissory note at issue. The district court rejected Belden’s attempt to introduce new evidence at the hearing following remand and entered judgment based upon evidence submitted at trial held in 2005.

Rejection of Request to Introduce Additional Evidence: After remand, Appellants indicated to the trial court that they wished to present additional evidence to support their claim that Belden had signed the promissory note as an accommodation party. The issue presented was similar to that found in Decker II. Appellants had the opportunity to present witnesses during the trial in 2005. For reasons not evidence in the record, they chose not to present the testimony in that proceeding. The Court found no abuse of discretion in the district court’s decision to refuse admission of additional evidence at the hearing.

Accommodation Party:
Whether a person is an accommodation party to a negotiable instrument is a question of fact. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 34.1-3-419 plainly requires that the accommodated and the accommodating parties be parties to the notes. Note 2 clearly had only one maker, the LLC. Belden’s signature appears as an officer of the LLC and not as an individual. Belden’s uncontradicted testimony that all four members signed separate guaranty agreements does not alter the promissory notes. Neither Belden nor Thorkildsen signed Note 2 in their individual capacities and were not “parties” to the note. Therefore, Belden cannot be an accommodation party. In light of that determination, the Court found it unnecessary to determine whether the district court’s factual finding that Belden directly benefited from the loan was clearly erroneous.

Separate Oral Contract:
Belden contended that the district court erred when it concluded that no independent oral contract between her and Thorkildsen existed. The district court’s findings were amply supported by the record. The district court specifically found Belden’s credibility to be questionable. The Court’s review of the record lead it to the conclusion that the district court correctly stated that there was no evidence that Thorkildsen agreed to reimburse the LLC or Belden for amounts they paid toward Note 2.

Holding: Belden did not sign Note 2 in her individual capacity and therefore was not a party to the note. As a result, Belden cannot be an accommodation party. The district court correctly stated there was no evidence that Thorkildsen agreed to reimburse the LLC or Belden for amounts paid toward Note 2.


J. Burke 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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