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Terris v. Kimmel

August 5, 2010

SCOTT AND RHONDA TERRIS, HUSBAND AND WIFE, APPELLANTS (PLAINTIFFS),
v.
EDWARD KIMMEL AND EDWAL ENTERPRISES, INC., APPELLEES (DEFENDANTS).



Appeal from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Nancy J. Guthrie, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Voigt, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT*fn1, and BURKE, JJ.

[¶1] Scott and Rhonda Terris (the Terrises) appeal the district court‟s Judgment, arising from a dispute relating to a lease agreement with Edwal Enterprises, Inc. and Edward Kimmel as principal of Edwal Enterprises, Inc. (Kimmel). Finding no error on the part of the district court, we will affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2]1. Did the district court err as a matter of law when it found that the Terrises breached the lease agreement and that Kimmel did not breach the lease agreement?

2. Did the district court err by finding that Kimmel did not commit a conversion, that Kimmel did not act with willful misconduct, and that Kimmel did not violate the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing?

3. Did the district court err as a matter of law when it awarded attorney‟s fees and costs to Kimmel?

FACTS

[¶3] The Terrises rented a storage unit from Kimmel in 1998, pursuant to a written lease agreement, which they continued renting until the summer of 2006 when the current dispute arose. Kimmel notified the Terrises via letter several times between April and August of 2006 that they were over seven months behind in rental payments. In July of 2006, Kimmel and his employee smelled gasoline fumes coming from the Terrises‟ storage unit so they cut the lock and entered the unit, because storage of flammable and explosive materials is prohibited by the lease agreement. According to Kimmel, he and his employee removed "three full propane tanks and two full 5 gallon gas containers," as well as "a lot of junk," such as a moldy horse blanket and lumber.

[¶4] The Terrises contacted Kimmel in August of 2006 after having received one of Kimmel‟s letters regarding the Terrises‟ default for nonpayment. The Terrises and Kimmel met at the storage unit facility and the Terrises paid most of the delinquent rent.*fn2

The Terrises also requested that Kimmel allow them to rent the unit for another month, which Kimmel agreed to do and the Terrises paid for the additional month at that time.

[¶5] In August of 2007, the Terrises filed a complaint against Kimmel alleging that he committed conversion of their property by removing items valued at more than $10,000 from their storage unit.*fn3 Kimmel denied the allegations of conversion and counterclaimed for breach of contract. The district court found that no conversion occurred, that Kimmel did not breach the lease agreement, and that the Terrises had breached the lease agreement. The district court also awarded attorney‟s fees and costs to Kimmel pursuant to the lease agreement. This timely appeal by the Terrises followed.

DISCUSSION

Did the district court err as a matter of law when it found that the Terrises breached the lease agreement and that Kimmel ...


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