Friday, April 11, 2014

Summary 2014 WY 48

Summary of Decision April 11, 2014

Chief Justice Kite delivered the opinion of the Court. Reversed and Remanded.


Docket Number: S-13-0116


Appeal from the District Court of Teton County, the Honorable Timothy C. Day, Judge

Representing Appellant: C.M. Aron and Galen B. Woelk of Aron and Hennig, LLP, Laramie, Wyoming. Argument by Mr. Woelk.

Representing Appellee: James K. Lubing and Leah K. Corrigan of Lubing & Corrigan, LLC, Jackson, Wyoming. Argument by Ms. Corrigan.

Date of Decision: April 11, 2014

Facts: Marian I. Erdelyi filed an action against her stockbroker, Bradley T. Lott, for fraud and constructive fraud. After a trial, a jury found that Mr. Lott committed constructive fraud but that Ms. Erdelyi knew or in the exercise of due diligence should have known before February 10, 2007, that the fraud had occurred. Based on the jury’s findings, the district court entered judgment holding Ms. Erdelyi’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations and dismissed the action.
On appeal, Ms. Erdelyi contends the district court erred in instructing the jury on negligence and comparative fault in this fraud action. She also asserts the district court erred in instructing the jury, for purposes of applying the statute of limitations, to determine whether she knew or should have known with the exercise of due diligence before February 10, 2007, that the fraud had occurred, because there was no evidence to support the instruction.

Issues: Whether the trial court’s jury instructions, taken as a whole, misstated the law in the following particulars: (A) By instructing the jury to compare a victim’s fault on a claim of fraud, and including the victim on the verdict form; (B) By imposing a negligence standard on [Ms. Erdelyi] with regard to discovery of her stockbroker’s fraud; and (C) By instructing the jury to determine the date [Ms. Erdelyi] discovered her stockbroker’s fraud, when there was no evidence of any such discovery presented.

Holdings/Conclusion: We hold that when the law is properly applied, the evidence did not support a finding that Ms. Erdelyi could have discovered the fraud sooner and it was error to dismiss the case based on the statute of limitations. We, therefore, reverse the judgment and remand for a new trial.

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

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