Summary of Decision March 28, 2012
[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. You will also note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you need to provide a pinpoint citation to a quote the universal portion of the citation will use that paragraph number. The pinpoint citation in the P.3d portion will need to have the reporter page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation from this, or any future opinion using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library and we will provide any needed assistance]
Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court
Case Name: WORLD FAMILY CORPORATION, A Wyoming Corporation, dba MORROW GLOBAL v. WINDJAMMER COMMUNICATIONS, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company Domesticated in Wyoming and UINTA COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1, STATE OF WYOMING, Evanston, Wyoming, and WYOMING DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, STATE OF WYOMING
Docket Number: S-11-0165
Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, Honorable Peter G. Arnold, Judge
Representing Appellant: Tara B. Nethercott, Woodhouse Roden, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Representing Appellees Windjammer Communications, LLC and Uinta County School District No. 1: Mark W. Harris, Harris Law Firm, P.C., Evanston, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee State of Wyoming, Department of Transportation: Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; Robin Sessions Cooley, Deputy Attorney General; Douglas J. Moench, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Moench.
Date of Decision: March 28, 2012
Facts: World Family Corporation, dba Morrow Global (Morrow), sought judgment against Uinta County School District No. 1 (the District) and Windjammer Communications, LLC (Windjammer) declaring that Morrow is a co-owner with the District of a conduit located under Interstate 80 in Evanston, Wyoming. Morrow also sought an order permanently enjoining the District from interfering with, excluding or converting Morrow’s use of the conduit. Finally, by way of a quantum meruit claim, Morrow asserted that Windjammer had been unjustly enriched by using the conduit without paying for it.
The District and Windjammer moved to dismiss the complaint. They argued that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the claims against the District, Morrow had failed to join the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) as an indispensable party and World Family Corporation, the party designated as plaintiff in the complaint, did not exist at the time of the events giving rise to the action. Morrow moved to join WYDOT as a defendant and the district court granted the motion. Because both parties submitted matters outside the pleadings in presenting argument on the motion to dismiss, the district court treated the motion as one for summary judgment. After a hearing, the court granted the motion, finding that Morrow had failed to present any facts showing that it was an owner of the conduit and entitled to the relief sought. Morrow appealed.
Issues: Morrow presented two issues, which were rephrased as follows: Whether the district court erred in sua sponte deciding an issue that was not presented, thereby improperly shifting the burden to Morrow. Whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Windjammer, the District and WYDOT on the ownership issue when that issue was not raised in the motion and the parties had no notice the district court intended to address it. Windjammer, the District and WYDOT contended the district court properly granted summary judgment in their favor.
Holdings: The Court concluded the district court improperly granted summary judgment when the parties had no opportunity to present evidence and argument on the issue of Morrow’s ownership. The Court reversed the summary judgment order.
Chief Justice Kite delivered the opinion for the court.