Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Summary 2013 WY 141

Justice Davis delivered the opinion of the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S-13-0046

URL: http://www.courts.state.wy.us/Opinions.aspx

Appeal from the District Court of Fremont County the Honorable Norman E. Young, Judge

Representing Appellant: Sky D Phifer, Phifer Law Office, Lander, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: Thomas A. Thompson of MacPherson, Kelly & Thompson, LLC, Rawlins, Wyoming.

Date of Decision: November 12, 2013

Facts: Appellant Evelyn DiFelici was injured when she fell after stepping into a hole drilled in the gutter of a street in the City of Lander. She sued the City, claiming that it was negligent in the operation of a public utility or service, and also that she was entitled to recover under a specific statute rendering cities and towns liable for injuries resulting from excavations or obstructions which make streets or sidewalks unsafe. The district court granted the City’s motion for summary judgment.

Issues: 1. Did the City’s failure to replace a grate over the drain inlet fall within the waiver of immunity for negligence of public employees in the operation of public utilities and services under Wyoming Statute § 1-39-108(a)? 2. Does Wyoming Statute § 15-4-307 provide a statutory basis on which Appellant was potentially entitled to recover from the City?

Holdings/Conclusion: The term “liquid waste” in Wyoming Statute § 1-39-108(a) does not include runoff or storm water, and there is thus no exception to immunity available to the Appellant. We also find that the hole drilled in the gutter of Washakie Street to drain water into a privately-owned irrigation ditch was maintenance of a street to compensate for weather conditions, and that the specific immunity of § 1-39-120 therefore also bars her claim. Finally, we conclude that Wyoming Statute § 15-4-307 does not create a cause of action based on the negligence of public employees of cities and towns for excavations or obstructions of streets. We therefore affirm.

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

[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 quotation, 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.]

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