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John Thorkildsen v. Margot Belden

January 20, 2012

JOHN THORKILDSEN, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
MARGOT BELDEN, AND FISH CREEK DESIGN, LLC, APPELLEES (PLAINTIFFS).



Appeal from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Timothy C. Day, 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] In the fourth appeal of this matter, this Court took it upon itself to end this litigation, and in a specific remand, we directed the district court to enter an order awarding John Thorkildsen (Thorkildsen) attorney fees in the amount of $77,475.00. Now, in the fifth appeal of this matter, Thorkildsen challenges the district court's entry of the order we directed, claiming he is entitled to prejudgment interest on the fee award. We affirm the district court's Order Awarding Attorney's Fees.

ISSUES

[¶2] Thorkildsen presents the following issues on appeal:

1. Did the District Court erroneously decide that the Defendant Thorkildsen was not entitled to have prejudgment interest assessed on the attorney fees awarded him by the Wyoming Supreme Court in its decision Thorkildsen v. Belden, et al., 2011 WY 26, ¶ 27, 247 P.3d 60, 67 (Wyo. 2011)?

2. Whether the District Court correctly interpreted the decision in Thorkildsen v. Belden, et al., 2011 WY 26, ¶ 27, 247 P.3d 60, 67 (Wyo. 2011) to foreclose the defendant from seeking an award of prejudgment interest in any event.

FACTS

[¶3] This case began in 2004, when Margot Belden and Fish Creek Designs, LLC (Fish Creek) filed suit against Thorkildsen claiming a breach of the LLC agreement and that Thorkildsen and his wife owed Fish Creek for payments it made on a loan. After a bench trial, the district court ruled in favor of the Thorkildsens. Belden and Fish Creek appealed, and this Court ruled that the district court erred when it did not consider parol evidence of a separate agreement regarding the loan repayment. Belden v. Thorkildsen, 2007 WY 68, 156 P.3d 320 (Wyo. 2007) (Belden I). On remand, after consideration of the additional evidence, the district court again ruled in favor of Thorkildsen. It also ruled that Thorkildsen was entitled to reimbursement of costs and expenses incurred as a result of defending against the complaint. Belden and Fish Creek again appealed, and this Court affirmed. Belden v. Thorkildsen, 2008 WY 145, 197 P.3d 148 (Wyo. 2008) (Belden II).

[¶4] In January of 2009, Thorkildsen filed a motion seeking $79,545.09 in attorney fees and costs. The district court awarded costs of $2,070.90, but it did not rule on attorney fees. Thorkildsen appealed, and this Court affirmed the award of costs and remanded the matter to the district court for findings of fact and conclusions of law on the claim for attorney fees. Thorkildsen v. Belden, 2010 WY 17, 223 P.3d 1291 (Wyo. 2010) (Thorkildsen I).

[¶5] On remand, the district court denied the attorney fees motion on the ground that Thorkildsen failed to segregate his fees. Thorkildsen appealed again, and this Court held that the district court erred in requiring the fee segregation. Thorkildsen v. Belden, 2011 WY 26, 247 P.3d 60 (Wyo. 2011) (Thorkildsen II). We also decided, given the protracted litigation in this case, that we would not remand for fact findings. Instead, this Court, noting that "it is time for this matter to come to an end," took the unusual step of making a factual determination that the attorney fees Thorkildsen requested were reasonable. Id., ¶¶ 23-25, 247 P.3d at 66. We then ordered:

We reverse and remand this matter to the district court for entry of an order awarding Mr. Thorkildsen attorney fees in the amount of $77,475.00 ...


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