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Golden v. Guion

Supreme Court of Wyoming

May 26, 2016

MEGAN B. GOLDEN, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
TODD A. GUION, Appellee (Defendant). MEGAN B. GOLDEN, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
TODD A. GUION, Appellee (Defendant). MEGAN B. GOLDEN, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
TODD A. GUION, Appellee (Defendant).

          Appeal from the District Court of Sheridan County The Honorable William J. Edelman, Judge.

          Representing Appellant: Pro se.

          Representing Appellee: Amanda K. Roberts and J. Kyle Hendrickson of Lonabaugh and Riggs, LLP, Sheridan, Wyoming.

          Before HILL, DAVIS, FOX, KAUTZ, and GOLDEN, Ret., JJ.

          KAUTZ, Justice.

         [¶1] These consolidated cases involve an ongoing dispute over personal property awarded to Megan B. Golden in her 2012 divorce from Todd A. Guion. In three separate docket numbers, Ms. Golden appeals from the district court's August 31, 2015 order that: 1) rejected her request for a rehearing on a 2012 denial of her motion to find Mr. Guion in contempt of court (Case No. S-15-0247); 2) denied her motion to vacate a February 2015 order following contempt hearings (Case No. S-15-0248); and 3) granted Mr. Guion's request for sanctions under W.R.C.P. 11 (Case No. S-15-0249). We dismiss Case Nos. S-15-0247 and S-15-0248 for want of jurisdiction because Ms. Golden did not file timely notices of appeal. We affirm the district court's award of sanctions to Mr. Guion in Case No. S-15-0249 and grant his request, under W.R.A.P. 10.05, for attorney fees and costs related to this appeal.

         ISSUES

         [¶2] The dispositive issues in this case are:

1. Whether this Court has jurisdiction over Ms. Golden's appeals of the district court's denials of her motion for a rehearing and her motion to vacate when she did not file notices of appeal within thirty days after the motions were deemed denied.
2. Whether the district court abused its discretion when it awarded Mr. Guion sanctions under W.R.C.P. 11.
3. Whether Mr. Guion is entitled to sanctions pursuant to W.R.A.P. 10.05 because there was no just cause for Ms. Golden's appeals.

         FACTS

         [¶3] In 2010, after three years of marriage, Ms. Golden filed for divorce from Mr. Guion. Throughout the litigation, Ms. Golden claimed Mr. Guion withheld, lost, or damaged her personal property. At the conclusion of the divorce trial, the district court ordered the parties to make their best efforts to locate and protect the personal property. On August 2, 2012, the district court entered a divorce decree which distributed the parties' real and personal property. It awarded Mr. Guion the real property but ordered him to pay Ms. Golden $90, 000, which represented approximately ninety percent of the equity in the real property. Ms. Golden also received the vast majority of the personal property.

         [¶4] Ms. Golden appealed the decree, claiming the district court abused its discretion in dividing the property. This Court summarily affirmed because Ms. Golden did not provide the transcript of the trial proceedings as part of the record on appeal. Golden v. Guion, 2013 WY 45, 299 P.3d 95 (Wyo. 2013) (Golden I). We also awarded attorney fees to Mr. Guion under W.R.A.P. 10.05. Id., ¶ 8, 299 P.3d at 97. Several months after our decision in Golden I, Ms. Golden filed a Petition for Writ of Review with this Court, again complaining about the district court's division of property and asserting that her constitutional rights had been violated by the Wyoming courts. We denied the petition for writ of review.

         [¶5] The litigation between the parties also included numerous contempt proceedings. After the divorce trial but prior to entry of the decree, Ms. Golden filed a motion for order to show cause, claiming Mr. Guion should be held in contempt of court for vandalizing her personal property. At an August 16, 2012 hearing, the district court verbally denied Ms. Golden's motion because she failed to produce evidence to support a finding that Mr. Guion had violated a court order. The district court asked Mr. Guion's counsel to prepare a written order; however, no order was ever entered.

         [¶6] Time passed and the parties continued their battle. On October 2, 2013, Mr. Guion filed a motion for order to show cause why Ms. Golden should not be held in contempt of court and for damages because she refused to sign a quitclaim deed to the real property in accordance with the divorce decree. At a hearing on the matter, Ms. Golden stated she had not signed the quitclaim deed because of Mr. Guion's actions regarding her personal property. The district court found Ms. Golden in contempt of court for refusing to sign the deed, and she immediately purged herself of the contempt by signing the deed. The court reserved the issue of Mr. Guion's damages and suspended the proceedings to allow Ms. Golden to file a motion for order to show cause on the personal property issue.

         [¶7] Ms. Golden filed a motion for order to show cause on February 13, 2014. She again claimed that Mr. Guion should be found in contempt of court because he had damaged, destroyed or misappropriated her personal property. The district court held a hearing on June 19, 2014. It told Ms. Golden that many of her claims were not timely because they pertained to events that predated the divorce. The judge asked her to present evidence showing that Mr. Guion had destroyed her property or otherwise violated the decree after the divorce, and she conceded she did not have any. The district court, therefore, dismissed Ms. Golden's contempt action. It then directed the parties to file written memoranda on the issue of Mr. Guion's damages resulting from Ms. Golden's refusal to sign the quitclaim deed. After receiving the parties' written submissions on damages, the district court entered an "Order Following Contempt Hearing" on February 11, 2015. It reiterated that Ms. Golden had been found in contempt of court for failing to sign the quitclaim deed and awarded Mr. Guion damages of over $32, 000. The district court also memorialized its earlier ruling that Ms. Golden had not proven Mr. Guion was in contempt of court for any actions pertaining to the personal property.

         [¶8] Ms. Golden did not appeal the district court's February 11, 2015 order. Instead, on February 26, 2015, she filed a motion to vacate the order. A few months later, she filed a motion for rehearing of her July 2012 contempt motion because no written order had been entered on the district court's August 2012 verbal denial of the motion.[1] Mr. Guion filed a motion for sanctions under W.R.C.P. 11.

         [¶9] On August 31, 2015, the district court issued an order addressing all three motions. It denied Ms. Golden's motion for a rehearing, ruling the oral order was effective even though no written order had ever been entered, and the time for appeal had long since lapsed. The district court also denied Ms. Golden's motion to vacate the February 2015 order because she failed to articulate any grounds to set it aside under W.R.C.P. 60. Finally, the district court granted Mr. Guion's motion for sanctions under W.R.C.P. 11 because Ms. Golden had raised the same issues regarding the personal property many times and her most recent motions were meritless and amounted to harassment of Mr. Guion. Ms. Golden filed three separate notices of appeal from the August 31, 2015 order. We consolidated the cases for decision.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Timeliness of Appeals Under the "Deemed Denied" Rule – Case Nos. S-15-0247 and S-15-0248

         [¶10] Case No. S-15-0247 pertains to Ms. Golden's May 11, 2015 motion for rehearing of her 2012 contempt motion. She claimed a rehearing was necessary because no written order denying her contempt motion was ever entered in the court record. Before we can consider the merits of her argument, we must determine ...


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