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Hopkins v. Bank of the West

Supreme Court of Wyoming

October 16, 2013

Gary L. HOPKINS and Mary Hopkins, Appellants (Plaintiffs),
v.
BANK OF the WEST, Randal L. Burnett and G & R Enterprises, LLC, Appellees (Defendants).

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Representing Appellants: A. Joe Hageman, Laramie Wyoming.

Representing Appellee Bank of the West: Terry W. Connolly, Patton & Davison, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellees Randal L. Burnett and G & R Enterprises, LLC: No appearance.

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

VOIGT, Justice.

[¶ 1] Gary L. Hopkins and Mary Hopkins appeal the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Bank of the West.[1] The Hopkins claim that material facts concerning a contract are in dispute, making summary judgment inappropriate. Specifically, they argue the contract's language is ambiguous and the district court should have considered extrinsic evidence of the parties' intent when interpreting the contract. We affirm the district court's order.

ISSUE

[¶ 2] Did the district court err when it granted summary judgment in favor of Bank of the West after finding that the contract between the parties was unambiguous after limiting its analysis to the four corners of the contract?

FACTS

[¶ 3] In 2001, Gary Hopkins and Randal Burnett formed a Wyoming limited liability company called G & R Enterprises, LLC, in which they each owned a 50 percent interest. Hopkins and Burnett formed the business for the purpose of constructing and operating a combined laundromat and carwash. The partners agreed they would finance the project with a United States Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. The logistics of the funding involved a pledge from the SBA, acting through Frontier Certified Development Company, Inc. (FCDC), who would loan 31 percent of the total project costs, and Community First National Bank (CFNB) loaning 50 percent of the total project costs.

[¶ 4] CFNB loaned G & R Enterprises $950,000, which included both the loan pledged by CFNB and the loan pledged by FCDC. G & R Enterprises signed a promissory note to CFNB in that amount. To secure the loan, G & R Enterprises executed a mortgage to CFNB on the laundromat and carwash property and Hopkins executed a second mortgage (subject to a first mortgage held by M & T Mortgage) on two rental properties he personally owned. CFNB also required personal guarantees from Hopkins and Burnett for the full amount of the loan.

[¶ 5] Thereafter, in order to arrange for the SBA/FCDC portion of the loan, Hopkins and Burnett individually and on behalf of G & R Enterprises signed an " Authorization for Debenture Guarantee." That document

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set forth the conditions of the SBA loan, listed FCDC as the local company that would be issuing the SBA portion of the loan, and specified that this portion of the loan would be secured with: (1) a second mortgage in the laundromat and carwash property, equipment, and fixtures; (2) third mortgages in Hopkins' rental properties (subject to M & T Mortgage's first ...


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