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Redland v. Redland

Supreme Court of Wyoming

February 26, 2015

ROBERT REDLAND, Individually, ROBERT REDLAND, as Trustee of the Robert and Irene Redland Family Trust, Dated August 10, 1989, LISA KIMSEY and MIKE KIMSEY, Appellants (Defendants),
v.
ROLLY REDLAND, KENDRICK REDLAND, ROALENE McCARTHY and TERESA SHELTON, Individually and as Beneficiaries of the Robert and Irene Redland Family Trust, Dated August 10, 1989, Appellees (Plaintiffs)

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Appeal from the District Court of Big Horn County. The Honorable Keith G. Kautz, Judge.

Representing Appellants: Scott W. Meier, Lucas Buckley and J. Zachary Courson of Hathaway & Kunz, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming. Argument by Mr. Meier.

Representing Appellees Rolly Redland, Kendrick Redland and Teresa Shelton: S. Joseph Darrah of Darrah Law Office, P.C., Powell, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee Roalene McCarthy: C.M. Aron of Aron & Hennig, LLP, Laramie, Wyoming.

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

OPINION

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KITE, Justice.

[¶1] This is the second appeal stemming from the Redland family's dispute over ranch property that some of the Redland children claim their father, Robert Redland, agreed to place in a family trust.[1] In the first appeal, Redland v. Redland, 2012 WY 148, 288 P.3d 1173 (Wyo. 2012) ( Redland I ), this Court held that questions of fact precluded the district court's entry of summary judgment on the issues of whether the Redland Children's claims against Robert Redland were barred by the statute of frauds and the statute of limitations, and we remanded for a trial on those issues.

[¶2] Following a bench trial on remand, the district court found that the claims were not barred, and it ordered that all of the disputed property, with the exception of the property on which Robert Redland resides (" the Manderson Place" ), be immediately transferred to the family trust. With respect to the Manderson Place, the district court ordered that the property be transferred to the trust upon Robert Redland's death. We affirm the district court's order, with the

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exception of its disposition of the Manderson Place. With respect to the latter property, we remand for entry of an order directing that the Manderson Place be immediately transferred to the family trust subject to Robert Redland's life estate in the property.

ISSUES

[¶3] Robert Redland states the issues on appeal as follows:

I. The District Court erred, as a matter of law, in holding that an enforceable agreement existed that required placing the disputed property in the Family Trust.
II. The District Court erred, as a matter of law, in determining that the Statute of Limitations did not bar [the Redland Children's] claims for the placement of property in the Family Trust.

FACTS

[¶4] The disputed Redland property is located in three areas of the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. Because the property at issue in the present appeal is the same property we discussed in Redland I, we will use the Redland I nomenclature to reference the property in this appeal:

Manderson Place

The Manderson Place is located in Big Horn County. The parties variously refer to the deeded portion of this property as the Manderson Farm, the Manderson Place or the Home Place. Associated with this property is State of Wyoming Lease No. 3-8179. Also associated with the property is Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lower Nowood Allotment No. 00144. For ease of reference, throughout this opinion, we will refer to the deeded property as the " Manderson Place," and to State Lease No. 3-8179 by number or as the " State Farm at Manderson."
Original Mountain Land & Additional Mountain Land
The Original Mountain Land is located in Washakie and Johnson Counties. Associated with the deeded property is State of Wyoming Lease No. 3-8195, BLM Box Canyon Allotment No. 02008, and BLM Cedar Ridge Allotment No. 00145. For ease of reference, when we refer to State Lease No. 3-8195 separately, we will refer to it by number or as the " Mountain Land State Lease."
The Additional Mountain Land is located in the area of the Original Mountain Land and is deeded land that was owned by Eric Redland, Robert Redland's brother, until Eric's death in 1992.
Woody Place
Woody Place is also located in Washakie County, south of the Mountain Land. Associated with this property is State of Wyoming Lease No. 3-8248, BLM West Allotment No. 00147, and BLM East Allotment No. 00146. For ease of reference, we will refer to State Lease No. 3-8248 by number or as the " State Lease at Woody Place."

Redland I, ¶ ¶ 9-12, 288 P.3d at 1178-79.[2]

[¶5] As in Redland I, we believe it is helpful to an understanding of the parties' dispute to begin with a history of the parties, their property acquisitions, and their ranching operations. Again, these facts remain unchanged since our decision in Redland I :

Richard and Nellie Redland were the parents of Robert Redland and the grandparents of Robert and Irene Redland's five children: Rolly Redland, Kendrick Redland, Roalene Redland McCarthy, Teresa Redland Shelton, and Lisa Redland Kimsey. Throughout their lifetimes, Richard and Nellie Redland accumulated ranching and farming property in the Big Horn Basin, including deeded land and federal and state leases, which they hoped would be held and operated by future Redland generations. All of the property that is in dispute in this action is property originally acquired by Richard and Nellie Redland.

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Robert and Irene Redland were married in 1951, and began living on Manderson Place in 1953. Sometime between 1959 and 1962, they purchased the Manderson Place from Richard and Nellie Redland. Robert and Irene raised their five children on the Manderson Place, and during those years they ran sheep on the Original Mountain Land and grew crops on BLM land near Manderson.
In 1971, Robert and Irene Redland purchased Woody Place from Richard and Nellie Redland. The purchase included the deeded land and an assignment of the State Lease at Woody Place. The State Lease at Woody Place is important to the Woody Place operations because the leased land is adjacent to the deeded property and holds all of the operation's water.
When Robert and Irene Redland purchased Woody Place in 1971, Rolly Redland, Robert's oldest son, was attending community college in Riverton, Wyoming. Robert called on Rolly to work the new property and to manage the cows Robert then owned. Woody Place required substantial work, including clean-up, fencing, and irrigation work, and after making some initial improvements to the property, Rolly stayed on and has since 1971 lived and ranched at Woody Place.
Kendrick Redland began his fulltime career as a rancher in 1973. Kendrick lived on Manderson Place, and he conducted his operations primarily on Manderson Place and the Original Mountain Land. While the two Redland sons lived on separate properties, they often operated together and with their father. This included running their cattle together and supplying veterinary care, breeding and feed for the cattle.
Robert Redland's father, Richard Redland, passed away in 1971. In his will, he left to his wife, Nellie Redland, a life estate in all of his properties. To his sons, Robert and Eric Redland, he left a divided option to purchase the Original Mountain Land for $27.50 per acre, which option could not be exercised until the death of Nellie Redland. * * *
In March of 1983, Robert Redland paid Eric Redland $100,000 for his one-third option in the Original Mountain Land. As of 1983, then, Robert owned the entire option to purchase the Original Mountain Land as set forth in Richard Redland's will.
By 1989, the operations of Robert Redland and his two sons, Rolly and Kendrick Redland, had grown, with each individually continuing to increase the number of livestock they were running. Also in 1989, Nellie Redland passed away, and Robert was able to exercise the option to purchase the Original Mountain Land as described in Richard Redland, Sr.'s will. Before exercising the option, however, Robert took two steps. First, on August 8, 1989, Robert assigned part of his purchase option to his wife, Irene, and then they both made partial assignments of their interests in the purchase option to their five children, with the end result being that Robert, Irene and their five children each owned a one-seventh interest in the option to purchase the Original Mountain Land. Robert's next step was to create a family trust.
On August 10, 1989, Robert and Irene Redland executed a Trust Agreement with their five children, which created the Robert and Irene Redland Family Trust (" Redland Family Trust" ). Robert, Irene and the five children were beneficial owners under the trust, and Robert and Irene were the trustees. The Trust Agreement established the trust for the purpose of holding and managing property. It provided as follows concerning property acquired by the trust:
The parties hereto declare that all property now held or hereafter acquired by the trustees or their successors, as trustees, and all income and profits therefrom, shall be by the trustees managed, administered, received, collected, disposed of, and distributed for the benefit of such persons as may from time to time be owners of beneficial interests in this trust estate, in the manner herein provided and subject to the terms and conditions set forth in this instrument and any amendments hereto.

Redland I, ¶ ¶ 13-21, 288 P.3d at 1179-1180.

[¶6] The creation of the Redland Family Trust is at the root of the Redland family's

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property dispute. The Redland Children contend they made capital and other contributions to the Trust with the understanding that certain properties historically operated on and held by members of the Redland family, including deeded properties, state leases, and federal leases, would be held by the Trust. In February 2007, however, the Redland Children learned, from a notice in the Basin Republican Rustler, that property they understood to belong to the Redland Family Trust had been transferred from Robert and Irene Redland (through their individual revocable trusts) to Lisa Kimsey, the Redland Children's youngest sibling, and her husband, Mike Kimsey. Rolly Redland thereafter had a title search completed, and the Redland Children learned that the Redland Family Trust did not hold the properties they understood belonged to the Trust.

[¶7] The 2007 title search, completed in May and June of that year, revealed that the Trust presently holds the following properties:

1. The Original & Additional Mountain Land (deeded property located in Washakie and Johnson Counties);
2. BLM Box Canyon Allotment No. 02008 (federal lease associated with Original Mountain Land);
3. BLM Cedar Ridge Allotment No. 00145 (federal lease associated with Original Mountain Land);
4. Woody Place (deeded property located in Washakie County south of the Mountain Land);
5. BLM East Allotment No. 00146 (federal lease associated with Woody Place); and
6. BLM West Allotment No. 00147 (federal lease associated with Woody Place).

[¶8] The following are the properties the Redland Children understood would be placed in the Redland Family Trust but which their 2007 title search showed were instead held by the Robert Redland Revocable Trust and the Irene Redland Revocable Trust (less the eleven plus acres that were deeded to Lisa and Mike Kimsey):

1. State Lease No. 3-8195 (state lease associated with Original Mountain Land);
2. State Lease No. 3-8248 (state lease associated with Woody Place);
3. Manderson Place (deeded property located in Big Horn County);
4. State Lease No. 3-8314 (state lease associated with Manderson Place);
5. BLM Lower Nowood Allotment No. 00144 (federal lease associated with Manderson Place); and
6. State Lease No. 3-8179 (state lease also known as the State Farm and located near Manderson Place).

[¶9] In September 2007, Irene Redland passed away, and shortly after her death, the Redland Children presented Robert Redland with a proposal to transfer all property the Redland Children originally believed was to be held by the Redland Family Trust into the Trust. Redland I, ¶ 36, 288 P.3d at 1182-83. Robert refused the request to transfer the property, and in 2008, the Redland Children filed the present action against Robert Redland, individually and as trustee of the Redland Family Trust, and against Lisa Redland Kimsey and Mike Kimsey (collectively Robert Redland). Id., ¶ ¶ 36, 39, 288 P.3d at 1183. The Redland Children asserted a number of claims, but particularly relevant to the present appeal was their claim for promissory estoppel. Related to that claim, the Redland Children sought an order directing that Robert Redland transfer the disputed property to the Redland Family Trust. Robert Redland answered and asserted a number of counterclaims.

[¶10] Robert Redland moved for summary judgment on the Redland Children's claims to recover the disputed trust property, asserting that those claims were barred by the statute of frauds and the statute of limitations. Redland I, ¶ 41, 288 P.3d at 1183-84. The litigation then progressed as follows:

The district court granted Robert Redland's motion for summary judgment on the claims to recover real property, finding that no genuine issue of disputed fact existed and the claims were barred by the

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statute of limitations and the statute of frauds. * * *
In that same order, the district court allowed Robert Redland to amend his counterclaims to seek declaratory relief that the Redland Family Trust violates the rule against perpetuities; to seek ejectment of Kendrick and Sharon Redland from the Manderson Place; and to seek ejectment of Rolly and Debbie Redland from the State Farm at Manderson. Robert's amended counterclaims also included claims against Rolly Redland for conversion of a sheep wagon and a tractor. In response, Kendrick, Rolly and their spouses counterclaimed for the value of the improvements that they had made to Manderson Place and the State Farm at Manderson.
Shortly after the district court's entry of summary judgment, Rolly Redland filed a motion requesting that Judge W. Thomas Sullins recuse himself from the case, asserting a conflict of interest because Judge Sullins was a former partner in the law firm that represented Robert Redland, and because that same law firm drafted many of the trust documents that would be ruled on at trial. Judge Sullins denied any conflict of interest but entered an order of recusal and reassigned the case to the Honorable Keith G. Kautz.
A five-day bench trial was held before Judge Kautz beginning on August 30, 2010. On December 2, 2010, while the case was under advisement, the parties filed a stipulation resolving certain of the issues. The Redland Children dismissed their first cause of action seeking declaratory judgment that the family operated as a de facto partnership, dismissed their claim for an accounting, dismissed their request for a court implemented trust tie-breaker mechanism, and dismissed their breach of fiduciary duty claim. They reserved their right to appeal the summary judgment order against their property claims. Robert Redland agreed to not pursue efforts to have Rolly Redland removed as a trustee, and Robert reserved his causes of action for contribution of assets and an accounting in the event the Redland Children succeed in the appeal of the partial summary judgment on their property claims. Last, the parties submitted to the court a tie-breaker amendment to the Redland Family Trust and requested that the court approve the amendment in the event the court ruled that the trust is valid and not void for violating the rule against perpetuities.
On February 15, 2011, the district court issued its decision letter. The court made the following rulings:
--The court found that the Redland Family Trust does not violate the rule against perpetuities, and it approved the parties' stipulated tie-breaker amendment;
--The court found the lease agreements Robert Redland entered into with Lisa and Mike Kimsey for use of trust property were void for failure to obtain the required co-trustee approval;
--The court found that Rolly Redland owed the Redland Family Trust $6,360.00 for rent of the Woody Place for the year 2010;
--The court found no evidence that Rolly Redland had wrongfully withheld hunting fees for the Woody Place and found against Robert Redland on that claim;
--The court found that Robert Redland had not proven his claims for damages to Manderson Place or the State Farm against Rolly and Kendrick Redland and denied those claims. The court further found that Rolly and Kendrick had vacated Manderson Place and the State Farm, and it concluded that Robert's ejectment action against them was thus moot;
--The court found that Kendrick Redland had proved his unjust enrichment claim for improvements to Manderson Place, and it awarded him damages in the amount of $28,737.00;
--The court found that Rolly Redland had proved his unjust enrichment claim for improvements to the State Farm at Manderson, and it awarded him damages in the amount of $14,040.00.
--In his closing argument, Robert Redland conceded that he had not proved his claim against Rolly Redland for conversion of a tractor. The court further found that

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Robert had not proved his claim against Rolly for conversion of a sheep wagon, and it ruled against Robert on that claim; and
--The court found that Robert Redland had not proved that he had a partnership interest in Redland Angus and denied all of Robert's claims relating to that operation.
Following entry of the district court's judgment, Robert Redland appealed the court's rulings on Rolly and Kendrick Redland's unjust enrichment claims and the court's ruling on the Redland Angus partnership claims. The Redland Children appealed the order granting partial summary judgment against their property claims.

Redland I, ¶ ¶ 41-46, 288 P.3d at 1183-85.

[¶11] The Redland Children appealed the district court's summary judgment order, and Robert Redland appealed the court's ruling awarding damages to the Redland Children on their unjust enrichment claims and its ruling against Robert Redland on his Redland Angus partnership claims. Redland I, ¶ ¶ 1-2, 288 P.3d at 1177. This Court found that disputed issues of material fact precluded summary judgment on the questions of whether the Redland Children's property claims were barred by the statute of frauds or the statute of limitations, reversed that order, and remanded for a trial on those questions. Id., ¶ 181, 288 P.3d at 1214. We affirmed the district court's rulings against Robert Redland on the unjust enrichment claims and Redland Angus partnership claims. Id., ¶ 182, 288 P.3d at 1214.

[¶12] On November 19 to 21, 2013, the district court held a bench trial on the remanded issues, and on December 26, 2013, the court issued its Judgment and Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. The court found that Robert Redland made repeated oral promises to the Redland Children to place the disputed property in the Redland Family Trust in exchange for the children's capital and other contributions to the Trust. The court further found, with citations to the record omitted:

3(b). Certain State Leases and deeded property are required by the BLM to be " base property" and are part and parcel of BLM Grazing Allotments as follows:
i. Mountain and Slope deeded property and State Lease 3-8195 for Box Canyon BLM Allotment No. 02008 and Cedar Ridge BLM Allotment No. 00145;
ii. Woody Ranch deeded property and State Lease 3-8248 for BLM East Allotment (No. 00146) and West Allotment (No. 00147);
iii. Manderson Farm deeded property and State Lease 3-8314 for Lower Nowood BLM Allotment (No. 00144).
3(c). In order to maintain the Redland Family BLM grazing permits, prior to 1989 and after, the Redland Family has been required to enter into a management plan with the BLM which addresses grazing issues, livestock usage of resources and other matters which contemplate the usage of the deeded property and State leases tied to each BLM grazing allotment as base property. Therefore, the BLM management plan ...

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