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Jerry Allen v. Joyce anderson

June 16, 2011

JERRY ALLEN, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
JOYCE ANDERSON, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Park County The Honorable Norman E. Young, Judge

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

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

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] Joyce Anderson and Jerry Allen were involved in a long-term, non-marital relationship. Upon separation, the parties agreed that each should have ownership of personal property in their respective possession. Allen alleges that Anderson wrongly took some of his personal property into her possession. The district court determined that Allen failed to claim the personal property at issue in a timely fashion and thus effectively abandoned his claim to it. We affirm the ultimate decision that Allen has no claim to the personal property at issue, but we do so on separate grounds.

ISSUES

[¶2] Allen presents two issues:

1. Whether the District Court erred in applying the incorrect legal standard when it held that Appellant abandoned the subject personal property.

2. Whether the District Court's factual findings were clearly erroneous when it held that Appellant abandoned the subject personal property.

FACTS

[¶3] Anderson and Allen cohabitated for numerous years but never married. During the course of their relationship, they acquired various items of personal property and a parcel of real property that they owned jointly. The land was pasture land that included a loafing shed. When the relationship broke down, Anderson moved out of their residence. She filed legal action seeking partition of real and personal property and asserting various tort claims against Allen.

[¶4] The parties entered into a settlement agreement intended to "make a complete and final settlement of all property issues and tort claims pending" in district court. The parties agreed they were to receive the personal property in their respective possession. Anderson was also to receive possession of certain specified items of property in Allen's possession. The parties further agreed that Anderson was to have the real property "as her sole and separate property, free and clear of any and all right, title, claim or demand of" Allen.

[¶5] Problems developed in relation to the exchange of personal property. First, when Anderson went to Allen's residence to pick up her possessions, she was unable to locate some items. Conversely, she found items passed down through her family that, although of little economic value, had strong sentimental value. Allen refused to allow her to take these extra items because she had not itemized them.

[¶6] Second, some personal property was stored in the loafing shed. Except for a few objects that were on Anderson's itemized list, none of the other pieces of personal property were itemized. After Anderson received the quitclaim deed for the land, she removed all items from the loafing shed. Allen claimed some of the items Anderson removed were his and filed the instant motion seeking recovery of those items through enforcement of the terms of the settlement agreement.

[ΒΆ7] After the hearing on the motion, the district court determined Allen had abandoned his claim to the items in the shed by not picking them up before executing the quitclaim deed. The district court reasoned Allen had plenty of time to retrieve any items of personal property he was claiming from the loafing shed before executing the quitclaim deed in favor of Anderson. According to the district court, the settlement agreement was very clear that Allen would have no access to the real property after conveyance of title except as necessary for the care of up to four horses. Allen had not been granted the right to store any items on the property. Thus, continued the district court, a reasonable man would have removed his alleged property before ...


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