Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the Medical Commission’s denial of additional temporary total disability benefits to Appellant. The Commission denied benefits after a contested case hearing, concluding that Appellant’s persistent back problems were the result of a preexisting degenerative condition and that Appellant failed to establish an increase in incapacity to a reasonable degree of medical certainty due solely to a work injury. The district court upheld the Commission’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was substantial evidence to support the Commission’s conclusion that Appellant was not entitled to benefits under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-605; (2) the Commission did not misapply the second compensable injury rule; and (3) there was substantial evidence to support the Commission’s conclusion that Appellant did not suffer a second compensable injury. View "Kebschull v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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Collateral estoppel is not given effect to an uncontested Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division (Division) determination denying workers’ compensation benefits even when the denial is based on a finding that the employee did not suffer a compensable injury. Lea Porter, through her employer, submitted a report of injury to the Division, by which Porter reporter an injury to her left knee. The Division issued to Porter final determination informing her that it would not approve payments of benefits upon its determination that the injury was not a work-related injury. Porter did not object to the final determination or request a hearing but did object to a later final determination of the Division that denied payment of costs related to an MRI of her left knee. The Office of Administrative Hearings granted summary judgment for the Division, concluding that Porter could not challenge the denial of benefits for the MRI because she did not object to the Division’s earlier determination that her injury was not work related. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Porter’s failure to object to the Division’s compensability determination did not preclude her objection to the Division’s final determination denying benefits to cover her MRI costs. View "Porter v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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Appellants sued the town of Alpine, alleging claims stemming from Alpine’s financing and construction of a new sewage treatment facility. Appellants sought a declaration that Alpine’s loans for the new sewage treatment facility exceeded the town’s constitutional and statutory indebtedness limits. Appellant’s also asserted a claim for injunctive relief to stop Alpine from enforcing assessments and exactions for the new sewerage system on Appellants. A few years later, while the original case was proceeding, Appellants filed another action against Alpine and Nelson Engineering, claiming that Alpine and Nelson made false reports to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality that Appellants had violated the agency’s rules and regulations when they upgraded their septic systems. The district court granted Alpine’s motion to dismiss all claims against the town and granted Nelson’s motion for summary judgment on all claims against the engineering firm. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Appellants sufficiently pled standing to pursue their declaratory judgment claim against Alpine; (2) the allegations supporting Appellants’ claim for injunctive relief against Alpine were legally sufficient; and (3) the district court’s respective orders on all the remaining claims in the two cases against Alpine and Nelson were not in error. View "Tavern, LLC v. Town of Alpine" on Justia Law

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RB was injured when he and his friends were running and sliding on a patch of ice on the sidewalk between buildings at Greybull Middle School. RB sued Big Horn County School District No. 3, alleging that the school district was negligent for failing to remove the ice that had accumulated on the sidewalk. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the school district on the question of whether there was a duty, concluding that the accumulation of ice in this case was both obvious and natural. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that RB could not establish a prima facie case of negligence because the school district had no duty under either the natural accumulation rule or based on Greybull’s snow removal ordinance. View "RB, Jr. v. Big Horn County School District No. 3" on Justia Law

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The City of Laramie fired Bret Vance, an employee of the City’s Fire Department, after Wyomed Laboratory, Inc. conducted a breathalyzer test on Vance that indicated the presence of alcohol. Vance filed suit against Wyomed, alleging that Wyomed negligently failed to maintain its testing equipment, negligently failed to train employees on equipment maintenance, and negligently misrepresented that the test results were reliable and accurate. The district court granted Wyomed’s motion to dismiss, concluding that Vance’s claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Vance failed to bring his claims within the time prescribed by the relevant statute of limitations. View "Vance v. Wyomed Lab., Inc." on Justia Law

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Charley Collins and his son, Brett, were both employed by COP Wyoming, LLC. Roger Ross, a job superintendent, was operating a track hoe when he struck Brett in the head, severely injuring him. Brett died from his injuries. Charley sued COP Wyoming and Ross, alleging that he suffered emotional injuries after he witnessed his son’s death. The district court concluded that Charley’s claims were derivative of the covered death of the son and were therefore barred by worker’s compensation immunity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Charley’s claim for emotional injury is based upon a duty to him that is independent of the covered death of his son and is not barred by worker’s compensation immunity. View "Collins v. COP Wyoming, LLC" on Justia Law

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At the heart of these three consolidated appeals was Sky Harbor’s alleged failure to pay rent to the Cheyenne Regional Airport and to leave the Airport premises. Sky Harbor argued that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to decide any of the cases now on appeal. The district court generally ruled in favor of the Airport in all three cases. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district and circuit courts did not lack subject matter jurisdiction in the three combined appeals; and (2) the judgments were entered in accordance with the law. View "Sky Harbor Air Serv., Inc. v. Cheyenne Reg’l Airport Bd." on Justia Law

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Leon and Brenda Rogers purchased a home from Jeffrey Wright. The Rogers subsequently discovered several defects in the home and sued Wright, JWright Development, LLC, and JWright Companies, Inc. (collectively, the JWright defendants), alleging breach of contract, negligence, breach of warranty, and negligent and intentional misrepresentation. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the JWright defendants. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order on the negligence claim but otherwise affirmed, holding (1) issues of material fact existed regarding whether the builder of the Rogers’ home breached its legal duty to build the home in a reasonable and workmanlike manner; and (2) the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the JWright defendants on the remainder of the Rogers’ claims. View "Rogers v. Wright" on Justia Law

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Merit Energy Company, LLC hired an independent contractor, Basic Energy Services, Inc. to clean out its oil and gas wells. Basic employee Blake Horr was injured while performing the job. Horr brought suit against Merit, alleging several exceptions to the general rule that the employer of an independent contractor is not liable for physical harm caused to another by an act or omission of the contractor or his workers. After a jury trial, the district court entered judgment against Merit, concluding that Merit was substantially at fault and that its fault had caused Horr more than two million dollars in damages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in instructing the jury to determine if Merit retained control over any part of the work that caused injury to Horr; (2) did not abuse its discretion by refusing to give the jury Merit’s proposed instruction detailing Basic’s duty of care to Horr; and (3) did not err in denying Merit’s motion for judgment as a matter of law. View "Merit Energy Co., LLC v. Horr" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Plaintiff and Defendant were involved in an automobile accident. In 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant alleging that Defendant’s negligent motor vehicle operation caused the collision, resulting in serious injury to Plaintiff. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that Plaintiff’s action was barred by the statute of limitations. The district court agreed and granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss with prejudice. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court’s consideration of evidence outside the pleadings converted Defendant’s motion to a summary judgment motion and that genuine issues of material fact precluded dismissal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s motion was converted to a summary judgment motion, but no issues of material fact precluded entry of the court’s order, and (2) the court properly denied Plaintiff’s assertion of equitable estoppel and correctly ruled that Plaintiff’s action was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Inman v. Boykin" on Justia Law