Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 150

Summary of Decision issued December 17, 2008

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

Case Name: Swinney v. Jones

Citation: 2008 WY 150

Docket Number: S-07-0176

Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County, the Honorable Scott W. Skavdahl, Judge.

Representing Appellant Swinney, et al: John H. Robinson, Jamieson & Robinson, LLC, Casper, Wyoming.

Representing Appellees, Jones, Lovelace, Lunstrum, Jones and Welo: Kendal Royce Hoopes, Yonkee & toner, LLP, Sheridan, Wyoming; Peter C. Nicolaysen, Nicolaysen & Wilking, PC, Casper, Wyoming.

Representing Appellees Anthony Ingram and Robert Ingram: Douglas R. McLaughlin, Casper, Wyoming; Mary Bell Guthrie, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee Hilltop National Bank: Stuart R. Day, Williams, Porter, Day & Neville, PC, Casper, Wyoming.

Facts/Discussion: Appellants (Sellers) filed suit against Appellees (Buyers) alleging breach of a real estate sales contract. In response, Buyers sought dismissal and judgment on the pleadings asserting that the claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations applicable to this case is Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-105(a)(i), which provides a ten-year limitation period for actions based upon a written contract. The land sale closing occurred on September 15, 1992. The district court determined the limitation period began, at the latest, one year later. The district court relied upon the language of the contract and Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 34-1-141(c). Sellers filed the complaint on August 18, 2006 which was more than ten years after the alleged breach occurred. Sellers do not dispute the district court’s conclusion that the limitation period expired on September 15, 2003, rather they contend that Buyers should be estopped from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense under the theory of equitable estoppel. In Archuleta as well as other cases, the Court has determined that equitable estoppel does not preclude assertion of the applicable statute of limitations as a defense. When the Court applied the Archuleta analysis to the allegations contained in Sellers’ complaint and proposed amended complaint, the Court reached the conclusion that the allegations were insufficient to support Sellers’ contention that Sellers have alleged a sufficient factual basis to preclude Buyers from asserting the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense.

Holding: The allegations of the complaint, and the amended complaint, reflect that Sellers knew or should have known that the breach of contract occurred on September 15, 1993. Pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-105(a)(i), they had ten years to initiate litigation. Sellers failed to bring their lawsuit within that time period. Their complaint and amended complaint clearly demonstrate that the action is barred by the applicable statute of limitations.


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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