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Christine Nodine, Personal Representative of the Estate of David v. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Corporation

May 23, 2012

CHRISTINE NODINE, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF DAVID NODINE, APPELLANT (PLAINTIFF),
v.
JACKSON HOLE MOUNTAIN RESORT CORPORATION, A WYOMING CORPORATION, APPELLEE (DEFENDANT).



Appeal from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Timothy C. Day, Judge

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

Representing Appellant:

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] Christine Nodine (Mrs. Nodine), whose husband was killed by an avalanche on a ski run at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR), appeals the district court's summary judgment order dismissing her wrongful death action. The district court dismissed the action because Mrs. Nodine, although duly appointed as personal representative of her husband's estate in her home state of Texas, had not been appointed personal representative by the Wyoming state district court upon the filing of her wrongful death action and before the two-year period for filing the wrongful death action expired. We reverse.

ISSUES

[¶2] Mrs. Nodine presents the following issues on appeal:

1. Did the District Court err by applying the holding of Estate of Johnson, 2010 WY 63, 231 P.3d 873 (Wyo. 2010), to this case given that the opinion provides the ruling would have prospective application only and the cause of action in this matter accrued long before the publication of Estate of Johnson?

2. If Estate of Johnson applied, would the confirmation of Mrs. Nodine as personal representative by the District Court have related back to the initial filing of her timely state court complaint under the Wyoming Wrongful Death Act?

3. Did the District Court commit error when it concluded that a personal representative lawfully appointed by a Texas probate court, who then timely filed her wrongful death complaint, failed to meet the conditions precedent for bringing a Wrongful Death Act claim in Wyoming?

4. Did the District Court err in ruling that JHMR had standing to challenge Mrs. Nodine's capacity?

FACTS

[¶3] On December 27, 2008, Mrs. Nodine's husband, David Nodine, was killed by an avalanche on a JHMR ski run. On July 16, 2009, a Texas probate court appointed Mrs. Nodine as the Independent Administrator of her deceased husband's estate. On September 17, 2009, Mrs. Nodine filed a wrong death action against JHMR in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming.

[¶4] On May 18, 2010, while Mrs. Nodine's action was pending in federal court, this Court issued a decision holding that the personal representative for purposes of bringing a Wyoming wrongful death action must be appointed within the wrongful death action by the court with jurisdiction over that action. See In re Estate of Johnson, 2010 WY 63, ¶ 21, 231 P.3d 873, 881 (Wyo. 2010). On October 5, 2010, Mrs. Nodine filed her Second Amended Complaint, which included her continuing allegation that she was the duly qualified and appointed personal representative of her husband's estate and that she was a proper ...


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