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Greg Hunter and Staci Hunter, Husband and Wife v. Ron Reece and Linda Reece

June 23, 2011

GREG HUNTER AND STACI HUNTER, HUSBAND AND WIFE, APPELLANTS (DEFENDANTS),
v.
RON REECE AND LINDA REECE, APPELLEES (PLAINTIFFS).



Appeal from the District Court of Sheridan County The Honorable John G. Fenn, Judge Representing Appellants:

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burke, 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] Ron and Linda Reece brought suit against Greg and Staci Hunter claiming that the Hunters owed them money pursuant to a contract. Having heard the evidence at trial, the district court found that there was no valid contract, but awarded damages to the Reeces on an unjust enrichment theory. The Hunters appealed. We will reverse the district court's decision.

ISSUES

[¶2] The Hunters present three issues:

1. Did the district court err by disregarding the parties' stipulation that a valid and enforceable contract existed and by raising a claim of unjust enrichment sua sponte?

2. Whether the district court erred in finding that Plaintiffs proved the elements of unjust enrichment.

3. Whether the district court erred in denying Defendants' Rule 59 motion for new trial and alternative motion to amend the judgment.

FACTS

[¶3] Ron and Linda Reece owned and operated a construction business in Sheridan County, Wyoming. In the fall of 2006, Mr. Reece was doing renovation work at the home of Greg and Staci Hunter. He noticed Mrs. Hunter watching a television program about "flipping" houses. According to trial testimony from both parties, flipping a house generally involves purchasing a house that needs improvements, making those improvements, and selling the house, usually in a relatively short period of time, and preferably for a profit. Mr. Reece and Mrs. Hunter both commented that they would be interested in flipping a house.

[¶4] After further discussions between the Reeces and the Hunters, the two couples agreed to flip a house located at 708 Broadway in Sheridan. Later, they all met to put their agreement in writing, with Mrs. Hunter typing up the document. The contract, in its entirety, provided as follows:

Contract Agreement for Property 708 Broadway

This contract agreement for property 708 Broadway is between Greg Hunter along with his wife Staci and Ron Reece, along with his wife Linda.

A verbal agreement in September of 2006 made between Greg Hunger and Ron Reece, for the renovation process and "flip" of 708 Broadway was made. This discussion included the following:

Greg Hunter is to purchase this property and pay for all renovations with all expenses being approved by Staci Hunter with the approximate budget of $30,000. Staci Hunter is to be in charge of all final decisions including budget and design elements of the house including interior and exterior.

Ron Reece will be supplying labor and knowledge of building codes and will hire his employees to work along side him when needed for projects that require more th[a]n one man (i.e.), the roof and major framing and demolition and to be approved by Staci. Greg will then pay employees their base wage that Ron is currently paying them.

After the renovation process of this property is complete, the property will then be sold and the division of profit will be split 50% to Greg and Staci Hunter and 50% to Ron and ...


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