Court Summaries, 0221 WYBJ, Vol. 43 No. 1. 52

AuthorAnna Reeves Olson Park Street Law Offices Casper, Wyoming
PositionVol. 43 1 Pg. 52

Court Summaries

Vol. 43 No. 1 Pg. 52

Wyoming Bar Journal

February, 2021

Anna Reeves Olson Park Street Law Offices Casper, Wyoming

Rebecca & Johnathan Bextel v. Fork Road LLC, Albert E. Hancock, III, and Susan A. Hancock


2020 WY 134

October 19, 2020

Tis case stems from a lease dispute involving a commercial building in Jackson (the Building). In 2011, Knobloch Group B, LLC owned the Building. Its principal, Carl Knobloch, formed MBC to sublease office suites. Knobloch hired Rebecca Bextel to manage MBC and she did so until 2016 when the Bextels bought MBC and entered into a five-year lease with Knobloch Group for office space in the Building. MBC continued subleasing office space.

In January 2018, the Building was sold to the Hancocks. Although the Hancocks told the Bextels they had no desire to be landlords and there would be no changes, they actually conspired to usurp MBC’s business and destroy the Bextels’ prospective economic advantage in MBC, Bextels alleged.

Therefore, in April of 2018, the Hancocks sent a letter to MBC’s subtenants regarding the Building’s change in ownership and stated that although MBC had historically leased the building from the owner, as of May 2018, MBC would no longer have the right to sublease the space. Instead, the subtenants could lease the space directly from the Hancocks.

Also, during this time frame, Mr. Hancock became agitated at Bextel and said to her in front of the building’s subtenants, “You’re not being honest with me…You’re lying to me, and you know it… Don’t lie to me.”

After the Hancocks’ letter to the subtenants and the confrontation in the hallway, the Bextels sued the Hancocks for, inter alia, defamation per se and common law False Light Invasion of Privacy. The district court dismissed the claims and the Bextels appealed.

On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed and held that the Bextels did not state a claim for defamation per se because the letter and the verbal statements in the hallway did not reference the Bextels by name and Mr. Hancock’s statements vaguely accused Bextel of lying about some unidentified matter and did not rise to the level of general disparagement.

The Court also held that the Bextels’ common law False Light Invasion of Privacy claim also failed because the Hancocks’ letter did not concern either of the Bextels. Instead, the letter only mentioned MBC, and a business entity cannot assert a false light claim. Second, the statements in the letter were not of the kind that would be “highly offensive to a reasonable person.” The letter also did not constitute a “major misrepresentation of [the Bextels] character, history, activities or beliefs.”

Merry Candelaria v. Mahesh Karandikar, M.D.


2020 WY 140

November 6, 2020

Merry Candelaria saw Mahesh Karandikar, M.D., for spinal surgeries from 2013 until 2016. During that time, he performed seven surgeries on her spine. In 2015, in the midst of these surgeries, Candelaria sought a second opinion from a doctor in Colorado who told her that her back was “an absolute mess,” and that Dr. Karandikar was just doing these surgeries on Candelaria for money.

On her return, Candelaria contacted other surgeons in Casper, but none would see her, so she continued her care with Dr. Karandikar. Her final two surgeries with him were in January and February 2016. On March 15, 2016, Candelaria saw Dr. Mark Dowell, an infectious disease specialist who said that Dr. Karandikar did not perform the surgeries properly. After this consultation, Candelaria was convinced that Dr. Karandikar had committed malpractice.

On March 16, 2016, Candelaria saw Dr. Karandikar for the final time and terminated their relationship. On March 29, 2016, Candelaria saw Clayton Turner, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon who told her that he’d never “seen such a mess” with someone’s back.

On March 12, 2018, Candelaria filed a claim against Dr. Karandikar with the Wyoming Medical Review Panel, and on May 22, 2018, the Panel dismissed her claim due to Dr. Karandikar’s waiver of review. On June 29, 2018, she filed a complaint against Dr. Karandikar. Dr. Karandikar moved for summary judgment on the ground that the complaint was barred by the statute of limitations. The district court granted Dr. Karandikar’s motion.

On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed and held that under the “continuous treatment rule,” the two-year medical malpractice statute of limitations does not start to run until treatment ends. Here, March 16, 2016, was the last date that Dr. Karandikar treated Candelaria and the statute started to run on that day. Therefore, in taking into account the tolling periods when the case was in the...

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