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Symons v. Heaton

Supreme Court of Wyoming

January 14, 2014

Curtis F. SYMONS, Appellant (Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant),
v.
Wayne R. HEATON and Timothy S. Tarver, Co-Administrators of the Estate of Gary L. Plachek, Appellees (Defendants/Counter-Plaintiffs).

Page 1172

Representing Appellant: H.W. Rasmussen, Sheridan, WY.

Page 1173

Representing Appellees: Timothy S. Tarver, Sheridan, WY.

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

HILL, Justice.

[¶ 1] After Gary Plachek died intestate, leaving an estate worth approximately $300,000.00, his friend and caretaker Appellant Curtis Symons (Symons) filed a claim against the estate in the amount of $259,200.00. Symons sought compensation for the care and services that he provided to Plachek during the last nine years of Plachek's life. After the co-administrators denied Symons' claim, Symons brought an action against them. The district court disposed of the action upon a motion for summary judgment by the estate, and this appeal followed.

ISSUES

[¶ 2] Symons states his issues as follows:

The trial court erred in granting summary judgment on Symons' claim based on an implied-in-fact contract.
The trial court erred in granting summary judgment on Symons' implied-in-law contract claims.

FACTS

[¶ 3] Gary Plachek and Curtis Symons met in 1964 in 7th grade and remained close friends throughout their lives until Plachek's death in 2010. The two friends were so close that in 2001, Plachek's mother expressed concern to Symons regarding her son's excessive drinking and asked Symons to take care of her son after she was gone. Symons was a recovered alcoholic while, by all accounts, Plachek was an alcoholic with no desire to stop drinking.

[¶ 4] In mid-2001 Symons moved into Plachek's home at Plachek's request and lived with Plachek until his death in 2010. Symons did not pay rent but continued working at his job while also caring for Plachek by driving him places, running his errands, taking care of his dog, maintaining the household, and doing other tasks as needed. Plachek did not work and drank and slept much of the time.

[¶ 5] After Plachek's death in 2010 Symons filed a creditor's claim against Plachek's estate in the amount of $259,200.00 seeking compensation for the care and services he provided to Plachek. The co-administrators of the estate, Wayne R. Heaton and Timothy S. Tarver, denied the claim on August 9, 2010. On August 20, 2010 Symons brought an action against the co-administrators, asserting claims for implied-in-fact contract and contract implied-in-law (promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment). The estate moved for summary judgment on all claims and the district court granted the motion.

[¶ 6] This appeal followed.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶ 7] Regarding our standard of review on summary judgment, we stated in Throckmartin v. Century 21 Top Realty, 2010 WY 23, ¶ 12, 226 P.3d 793, 798 (Wyo.2010),

We evaluate the propriety of a summary judgment by employing the same standards and using the same materials as the district court. Cook v. Shoshone First Bank, 2006 WY 13, ¶ 11, 126 P.3d 886, 889 (Wyo.2006). Thus, our review is plenary. Birt v. Wells Fargo Home Mortg., Inc., 2003 WY 102, ¶ 7, 75 P.3d 640, 647 (Wyo.2003).

Page 1174

Cathcart v. State Farm Mut. Auto. ...

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