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Anne Uhr White v. Shane Edeburn Construction

September 7, 2012

ANNE UHR WHITE, APPELLANT
(DEFENDANT/THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF),
v.
SHANE EDEBURN CONSTRUCTION, LLC; PARIS L. EDEBURN; AND PAUL B. TOZER, APPELLEES (PLAINTIFFS), AND SHANE EDEBURN, APPELLEE (THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT).
ANNE UHR WHITE, APPELLANT (PLAINTIFF),
v.
CONNIE WEBB, SHANE EDEBURN, PARIS L. EDEBURN, AND PAUL B. TOZER, APPELLEES (DEFENDANTS).



Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Wade E. Waldrip, Judge

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] The issues presented in these appeals involve three parcels of land formerly owned by Appellant, Anne Uhr White, in the Table Mountain Ranches ("TMR") subdivision in Laramie County, Wyoming. In early 2011, Appellees Shane Edeburn Construction, LLC, Paris Edeburn, and Paul Tozer, initiated legal action to terminate Ms. White's lease on Lot 2 and Tract 12 of the TMR subdivision. Ms. White counterclaimed against these parties and added Shane Edeburn as a third-party defendant, asserting that they had violated the covenant of good faith and fair dealing in attempting to terminate the lease. Ms. White also filed a separate action against Appellees Shane Edeburn, Paris Edeburn, Paul Tozer, and real-estate agent, Connie Webb, claiming that they committed fraud and wrongfully conspired to deprive her of an opportunity to repurchase Lot 11 after she lost the property in foreclosure. In Docket No. S-11-0218, Ms. White challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment declaring the lease on Lot 2 and Tract 12 to be terminated and ordering Ms. White to vacate the property. She also challenges the district court's dismissal of her claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. In Docket No. S-11-0219, Ms. White challenges the dismissal of her claims of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud relating to the sale of Lot 11.*fn1 We affirm the decisions of the district court in both appeals.

ISSUES

[¶2] In Docket No. S-11-0218, Ms. White presents two issues, which we rephrase as follows:

1. Did the district court err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Edeburns with respect to their claim that Ms. White breached the lease agreement?

2. Did the district court err in dismissing Ms. White's claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing?

The Edeburns state the issues in a substantially similar manner as above, but present the following additional issue:

3. Is the appeal of the termination of the lease agreement moot because the Appellant no longer has an interest in the real estate?

[¶3] In Docket No. S-11-0219, Ms. White presents three issues, which can be set forth as a single issue:

Did the district court err in dismissing Ms. White's claims for fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud?

FACTS

[¶4] Prior to the events at issue in this appeal, Ms. White sold Lot 2 and Tract 12 in the TMR subdivision to Westland Holdings, Inc., which subsequently leased the two parcels back to Ms. White. Ms. White resided in a detached camper trailer on Lot 2 and stored some belongings in a shed she had constructed on the property. The lease, which commenced on August 19, 2010 and terminated on February 19, 2012, contained the following provision:

5. REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE. Lessee shall, at its expense, keep and maintain the premises in a clean, [sightly], sanitary order and in good condition and repair and in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations. Lessee shall not cause or permit any waste or nuisance in or about the leased premises.

Westland Holdings subsequently sold the properties to the Edeburns on December 21, 2010. The properties were purchased subject to the lease between Westland Holdings and Ms. White.

[¶5] On January 31, 2011, the Edeburns notified Ms. White that she had violated Paragraph 5 of the lease by living in a camper trailer on Lot 2, in violation of county regulations, and by accumulating "trash, waste and debris," including old automobiles, on the property. The Edeburns' notice allowed Ms. White ten days to come into compliance with the lease. Ms. White did not address the alleged lease violations and continued to reside on the property after the specified termination date.

[¶6] The Edeburns responded by initiating legal action. They sought a declaratory judgment that the lease was terminated and requested an injunction forcing Ms. White to forfeit possession of the property. Ms. White filed an "Answer, Counterclaim & Third Party Complaint," adding Shane Edeburn to the suit as a third-party defendant. She asserted that Appellees had breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by inventing lease violations to serve as a pretext for their desire to remove her from the property.

[¶7] The Edeburns filed a motion to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion to dismiss, finding that "Plaintiffs' attempt to exercise their rights under the Lease simply does not constitute a breach of good faith and fair dealing. . . . The covenant of good faith and fair dealing cannot be used to force parties to ignore explicit provisions in the contract, which is what Ms. White desires." The district court also granted Appellees' motion for summary judgment, finding that Ms. White had breached the lease by failing to "maintain the premises in a clean, [sightly], sanitary order" and by living in her camper in violation of local regulations. In Docket No. S-11-0218, Ms. White appeals both decisions.

[ΒΆ8] The issues in Docket No. S-11-0219 relate to the sale of Lot 11 in the TMR subdivision. Ms. White purchased Lot 11 in 1979 and financed the purchase with a bank loan secured by a mortgage. In 2009, Ms. White defaulted on the loan, and the bank foreclosed. The property was offered for sale at auction, and the bank purchased the property for $114,249.03. Ms. White did not redeem the property within the statutory redemption period. The bank subsequently hired Connie Webb, a real estate agent, to sell the property. According to Ms. White, she informed Ms. Webb that a third party wanted to make an offer to purchase Lot 11 when Ms. Webb was prepared to accept offers. Ms. White alleged that Ms. Webb represented ...


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