Court Summaries, 1218 WYBJ, Vol. 41 No. 6. 40

Author:Anna Reeves Olson Park Street Law Offices Casper, Wyoming.
Position::Vol. 41 6 Pg. 40
 
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Court Summaries

Vol. 41 No. 6 Pg. 40

Wyoming Bar Journal

December, 2018

Anna Reeves Olson Park Street Law Offices Casper, Wyoming.

Dan B. James & Shawn L. Eby v. Taco John's International, Inc.

2018 WY 96

S-17-0339

August 22, 2018

In 2013, Taco John's International, Inc. (TJI) hired Dan James and Shawn Eby. James was hired as the Chief Development Officer and Eby was hired as Vice President of Operations. Both James and Eby were hired at the behest of Jeff Linville, TJI's recently hired President and CEO.

When James and Eby were hired, they signed employment agreements that required them to "devote all of [their] time, attention, knowledge and skills solely to the business and interest of [TJI]. "The employment agreements permitted termination for cause without advance notice "[i]n the event of any violation."

In 2016, TJI's Chief Financial Officer discovered that James, Eby and Linville had created a new company, had engaged in conference calls, scouted real estate, explored financing options, circulated loan documents, and had drafted a business plan and operating agreement—all during TJI business hours.

James and Eby were then terminated for cause and they responded by filing suit against TJI for breach of their employment agreements. The District Court granted summary judgment to TJI.

On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed and held that the employment agreements unambiguously prohibited James and Eby from forming a new company and seeking other franchise opportunities while employed by TJI. The Court also held that there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding whether James and Eby breached their agreements. The facts established that James and Eby expended time, attention, knowledge and skills to business activities unrelated to TJI's business and interests, and thus, TJI satisfied its burden to present a prima facie showing that James and Eby had violated their employment agreements. The Court also held that the District Court had properly refused to consider parol evidence to interpret the agreements because the agreements were unambiguous.

In the Matter of the Order Imposing Sanctions on Traci E. Mears: LS v. JEQ

2018 WY 109

S-18-0006

September 21, 2018

Father and mother reached an agreement regarding paternity and father agreed to pay child support for their child. In 2016, mother engaged attorney Traci Mears to initiate adoption proceedings so that mother's new husband could adopt the child. Father and mother agreed that if father consented to the adoption, mother would waive all child support. Father engaged attorney Sky Phifer to prepare the necessary documents and Phifer delivered father's consent to Mears along with a release agreement and waiver of child support. Mears filed father's consent and the adoption was completed, but she did not file the child support waiver. Phifer continued to ask Mears to file the child support waiver, but she did not.

Phifer then filed a motion to enforce settlement agreement and in response, Mears filed the Stipulation. Phifer also filed a Rule 11(b) motion against Mears. The District Court determined that Mears had violated W.R.C.P 11(b) and that sanctions were appropriate. The Court ordered Mears to pay $4,903.50 for father's attorney fees and costs. Mother appealed.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and held that an appellate challenge to a sanction order against an attorney must be brought in the name of that attorney, not the client. This is because clients do not have standing to appeal the award of attorney's fees against their attorney. As it is the attorney's interest at stake and it is the attorney that should bring the appeal in his or her own name. In this case, Mears did not bring the appeal in her own name and because she failed to do so, the Supreme Court held that it lacked jurisdiction and dismissed the appeal.

Charles Hutton v. State

2018 WY 88

S-17-0309

August 3, 2018

Charles Hutton pled guilty to a felony and the District Court imposed a penitentiary sentence of three to seven years, which was suspended in favor of seven years of probation. The District Court also ordered him to participate for one year in an adult community corrections program. Of the 370 days in the adult community corrections program, he spent 279 as a resident and 170 days as a non-resident.

Hutton was later arrested and requested 170 days of credit for time served as a non-resident in the program. The District Court denied his request and Hutton appealed.

On appeal, the Supreme Court noted that time spent in a community corrections program as a resident must be counted against the sentence because absenting himself from the facility may subject him to an escape charge. However, time spent on probation in an inpatient substance abuse treatment program does not warrant credit against a sentence, because treatment ordered as a condition of probation does not ordinarily subject a defendant to a charge of escape for leaving the facility.

In this case, the Court held that Hutton was not entitled to credit for 170 days when he was a non-resident of the community...

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