NATHAN R. BAKER; BRYNER FARMS, LLC; PAT'S DREAM PROJECT TRUST; and MME TRUST, Petitioners,
DAVID SPEAKS and ELIZABETH SPEAKS, Respondents. NATHAN R. BAKER; BRYNER FARMS, LLC; PAT'S DREAM PROJECT TRUST; and MME TRUST, Appellants (Defendants),
DAVID SPEAKS and ELIZABETH SPEAKS, Appellees (Plaintiffs)
Original Proceeding Petition for Writ of Review -- No. S-13-0245. Appeal from the District Court of Lincoln County -- No. S-13-0266. The Honorable Richard L. Lavery Judge.
Representing Petitioners/Appellants: David H. Day of Day Shell & Liljenquist, L.C., Murray Utah.
For Representing Respondents/Appellees: Paula A. Fleck and Susan L. Combs of Holland & Hart LLP, Jackson, Wyoming. Argument by Ms. Fleck.
Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE[*], DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.
[¶1] This is the third appeal of matters related to Byron Baker's faulty construction of a cabin for David and Elizabeth Speaks. See Baker v. Speaks, 2008 WY 20, 177 P.3d 803 (Wyo. 2008) ( Baker I ) and Baker v. Speaks, 2013 WY 24, 295 P.3d 847 (Wyo. 2013) ( Baker II ). The current dispute concerns the availability of two properties for execution to satisfy the Speaks' judgment against Byron. The two properties were fraudulently transferred by Byron and Rosemary Baker to their son, Nathan R. Baker, and then later transferred to Bryner Farms, LLC, Pat's Dream Project Trust and MME Trust (collectively referred to as " the Baker Defendants" ). The district court ruled the undisputed facts established that Rosemary and Byron were not married when they took title to the Corsi Ranchettes lot as tenants
by the entirety. Consequently, Byron's interest was not entitled to protection from legal process. The district court also concluded the Speaks brought the action to declare the Misty Meadows lot transaction fraudulent within the applicable limitations period.
[¶2] We affirm.
[¶3] The Baker Defendants present the following issues in this consolidated appeal:
1. Whether the district court erred in holding that it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the marital status of Byron and Rosemary Baker, and that the legal effect of its lack of jurisdiction was that the Corsi Ranchettes Property was not held by the Bakers as tenants by the entireties.
2. Whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the basis that the applicable statute of limitations for a cause of action under the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act does not expire until four years after the conveyance alleged to be fraudulent is actually discovered, and that it was Defendants' burden to prove the date of discovery.
The Speaks restate the issues as:
1. Did the district court properly grant summary judgment regarding the marital status of Byron and Rosemary Baker?
2. Did the district court properly determine that the Speaks' claim regarding the Misty Meadows property was timely?
[¶4] The factual and procedural histories of this matter are very complicated; consequently, we will distill the current controversies down to their essentials. The Corsi Ranchettes property was transferred by warranty deed to Byron and Rosemary Baker, husband and wife, as tenants by the entirety in 1998. In 2003, Byron and Rosemary conveyed the property to Nathan who then transferred it to Bryner Farms, LLC, a family-owned company, in 2008. Bryner Farms conveyed the Corsi Ranchettes property to Pat's Dream Project Trust in 2010. Rosemary was the trustee of the trust.
[¶5] In Baker II, ¶ 54, 295 P.3d at 860, we affirmed the district court's ruling that the 2003 transfer from Byron and Rosemary to Nathan was fraudulent under the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyances Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. § § 34-14-101 through 34-14-113 (LexisNexis 2003) (UFCA). The Baker Defendants asserted the property was, nevertheless, exempt from execution for the judgment against Byron, alone, because it was held by Byron and Rosemary as tenants by the entirety. Because the record was unclear as to Byron and Rosemary's marital status, we remanded for a determination. Id., ¶ ¶ 57-59, 62, 295 P.3d at 860-62.
[¶6] Back in district court, the Speaks moved for summary judgment claiming the undisputed evidence established Rosemary and Byron were not married. The Baker Defendants acknowledged they were not formally married when they took title to the Corsi Ranchettes property, but requested the court to enter an order establishing their marriage under Utah's unsolemnnized marriage statute. The district court ruled it could not change Byron's and Rosemary's marital status because they were not parties to the action. Without an adjudication of marriage under the Utah statute, the evidence established the Bakers were not married when they took title to the Corsi Ranchettes property as tenants by the entirety. The district court, therefore, granted summary judgment in favor of the Speaks apparently concluding the property was not held in a valid tenancy by the entirety because the Bakers were not married when they took title to it. The only issue remaining with regard to the Corsi Ranchettes lot after the district court's summary judgment decision was " whether Nathan Baker acted with actual fraudulent intent at the time of the 2003 transfer of the Corsi Ranchettes property, and if not, whether he gave $14,000 consideration for the fraudulent conveyance." The Baker Defendants filed a petition for a writ of review of the district court's decision that
Byron and Rosemary were not married and we conditionally granted it.
[¶7] The Misty Meadows property presented a different issue. Rosemary and Byron took title to that property as " Joint Tenants with full rights of survivorship, and not as tenants in common." Rosemary and Byron fraudulently conveyed their interest in the Misty Meadows lot to Nathan on October 1, 2003. Nathan conveyed the property to Bryner Farms in 2008, and Bryner Farms transferred it to the MME Trust in 2010. Rosemary was also the trustee of the MME Trust.
[¶8] The Bakers asserted the Speaks did not file their action to set aside the fraudulent transfer of the Misty Meadow property within the limitations period set forth in the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 34-14-210(a) (UFTA) and that claim was, therefore barred. Consistent with our holding in Baker II, the district court held the statute of limitations applicable to the UFCA, and not the UFTA, applied and the Speaks' claim was timely under that provision. Consequently, the district court found the Speaks were entitled to execute on Byron's ...