Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Summary 2012 WY 53

Summary of Decision April 10, 2012

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

Case Name:

Docket Number: S-11-0091, S-11-0092


Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge

Representing Sutherlands: Bruce S. Asay, Associated Legal Group, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Meridian Granite Company: Franklin D. O’Loughlin and Jaclyn K. Casey, Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons, LLP, Denver, Colorado. Argument by Mr. O’Loughlin.

Date of Decision: April 10, 2012

Facts: John Sutherland and Minerva Selbe Sutherland entered into a mining lease granting Meridian the right to conduct mining operations on the Sutherlands’ property. A dispute developed between the Sutherlands and Meridian regarding the Sutherlands’ obligation to pay taxes relating to the mineral production. The dispute led to litigation. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court ruled that the Sutherlands were obligated to pay the disputed taxes. It therefore granted Meridian’s motion and denied the Sutherlands’. The Sutherlands appealed the district court’s ruling, and Meridian filed a cross-appeal.

Issues: The Sutherlands presented a single issue: Did the district court err in allowing Meridian to deduct ad valorem and severance taxes from payments to the Sutherlands when such tax payments are not required by the State?

In its cross-appeal, Meridian raises four issues: Did the district court err in allowing the Sutherlands to pursue claims barred by the applicable statutes of limitation? Did the district court err when it failed to dismiss the Sutherlands’ claims based on the doctrine of laches? Did the district court err in allowing the Sutherlands to pursue a claim for declaratory judgment when the Sutherlands simultaneously asserted a claim for breach of contract? Did the district court err in denying Meridian’s motion to dismiss for failure to join an indispensable party, where the party not joined was a party to the contract at issue?

Holdings: The district court did not err when it denied the Sutherlands’ motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment in favor of Meridian. As Meridian recognized in its cross-appeal brief, the Court’s affirmation of the district court’s judgment makes it unnecessary to address the issues raised by Meridian in its cross-appeal. Affirmed.

Justice Burke delivered the opinion for the court.

Justice Hill and Justice Golden respectfully dissented from the majority opinion.

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