Court Summaries, 1219 WYBJ, Vol. 42 No. 7. 38

AuthorAnna Reeves Olson, Park Street Law Offices Casper, Wyoming.
PositionVol. 42 7 Pg. 38

Court Summaries

Vol. 42 No. 7 Pg. 38

Wyoming Bar Journal

December, 2019

Anna Reeves Olson, Park Street Law Offices Casper, Wyoming.

Larry Warwick & Gregory Gilbert v. Accessible Space, Inc.

2019 WY 89


September 3, 2019

Accessible Space, Inc. (ASI) owns and operates Heritage Court Apartments (HCA), a housing complex for low-income seniors in Cheyenne. In order to live at HCA, the residents must pass a criminal background check. One of the tenants, Larry Rosenberg, satisfied these requirements and began residing at HCA in 2007. Gregory Gilbert and Larry Warwick moved into HCA later.

In the fall of 2015, Rosenberg filed complaints about Warwick smoking too close to the building, threatening to “kick [Rosenberg’s] ass,” and having a “dirty mouth.” He also complained about Gilbert being allowed to host poker games.

In September 2016, Gilbert and another tenant sat outside the entryway of the HCA building smoking and talking. Rosenberg walked up and shot them both with a .22 caliber rifle. Rosenberg then entered the building and shot Warwick. Rosenberg then fatally shot himself. Gilbert and Warwick survived the attack and filed suit against ASI alleging negligence. They asserted ASI, as a landlord, had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect them from Rosenberg’s criminal action. ASI moved for summary judgment, claiming it did not owe the plaintiffs a duty to protect them from Rosenberg’s unforeseeable criminal action and, in any event, its alleged negligence was not the proximate cause of the injuries. The district court granted summary judgment to ASI.

On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed and held that although the plaintiffs suffered serious injuries as a result of Rosenberg’s criminal action, his prior conduct did not give ASI reason to know he posed a danger to the plaintiffs. Consequently, ASI did not have a common law duty to protect the plaintiffs from Rosenberg’s criminal action. Rosenberg had no prior history of criminal violence and no one had filed a complaint about him. ASI also had no knowledge Rosenberg had committed any prior criminal or violent acts or other indications he posed an imminent danger. This lack of evidence that Rosenberg’s criminal action was foreseeable negated the duty element of the plaintiffs’ negligence claim.

The plaintiffs argued that there were issues of material fact that ASI was aware Rosenberg was dangerous because he had complained to ASI about Warwick and Gilbert. The Court noted, however, that the evidence showed Rosenberg had a long history of complaining about other tenants without becoming violent.

The Court also determined that viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, it was not foreseeable to ASI that Rosenberg would attempt to kill Warwick and Gilbert. ASI did not have notice of an unreasonable risk Rosenberg would shoot or seriously injure the plaintiffs or other similarly situated persons. Accordingly, it did not have a common law duty to protect them from Rosenberg’s criminal action.

Lyle L. Williams v. State of Wyoming ex rel., U.W. Bd. of Trustees


2019 WY 90

September 4, 2019

Lyle Williams brought a handgun to a Republican convention at a University of Wyoming (UW) facility despite a UW regulation barring firearms on campus. He was cited for misdemeanor criminal trespass after he refused to either relinquish his handgun or leave campus. Williams pled not guilty in circuit court and then obtained a stay of the criminal proceedings while he filed an action for declaratory judgment in district court. He contended that the regulation violated his right to bear arms under the U.S. and Wyoming Constitutions. The district court held that although William’s declaratory judgment action served a useful purpose, it granted summary judgment in favor of UW.

On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the district court abused its discretion when it concluded that Williams’ declaratory judgment action served a useful purpose. This is because while Williams’ alleged violation of the UW regulation served as the underlying basis for his request to depart University property, the substantive issue before the circuit court was Williams was guilty of criminal trespass, not...

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