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Vance v. Wyomed Laboratory, Inc.

Supreme Court of Wyoming

June 16, 2016

BRET VANCE, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
WYOMED LABORATORY, INC., and GEORGIA L. CARMEN, Appellees (Defendants).

         Appeal from the District Court of Albany County The Honorable Wade E. Waldrip, Judge.

          Representing Appellant: A. Joe Hageman, Laramie, Wyoming.

          Representing Appellees: Monty Barnett and Grant Curry of White & Steele P.C., Denver, Colorado.

          Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, KAUTZ, JJ., and SHARPE, D.J.

          KAUTZ, JUSTICE.

         [¶1] Bret Vance was an employee of the City of Laramie Fire Department. Wyomed Laboratory, Inc. was a medical laboratory licensed by the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) to conduct breath testing for the presence of alcohol. Georgia L. Carmen was an agent or employee of Wyomed Laboratory, Inc., and was licensed by WYDOT to conduct breath testing for the presence of alcohol. (Wyomed and Ms. Carmen are referred to collectively as Wyomed). The City of Laramie fired Mr. Vance after a breath test conducted on him by Wyomed indicated the presence of alcohol.

         [¶2] Mr. Vance sued Wyomed, claiming that Wyomed negligently failed to maintain its testing equipment, negligently failed to train employees on equipment maintenance, and was liable in "negligently misrepresenting that the results of the test were reliable and accurate when reporting those results to the City of Laramie."

         [¶3] Wyomed moved to dismiss Mr. Vance's lawsuit under W.R.C.P. 12(b)(6), asserting that it was barred by the statute of limitations. The district court granted the motion and dismissed all of Mr. Vance's claims. Mr. Vance appeals that dismissal. We affirm.

         ISSUE

         [¶4] The issue before this Court is:

         Are Mr. Vance's claims barred by the applicable statute of limitations?

         FACTS

         [¶5] On December 5, 2012, Wyomed conducted a breathalyzer test on Mr. Vance. The breath test showed that Mr. Vance had a blood alcohol content of 0.016%. Wyomed notified both Mr. Vance and the City of Laramie of the test results on that same day. The City of Laramie fired Mr. Vance as a result of the Wyomed breath test, and Mr. Vance challenged that dismissal administratively. At the resulting administrative hearing on February 12, 2013, Mr. Vance became aware of facts he claims suggest Wyomed failed to properly maintain its breathalyzer. Mr. Vance then waited until January 29, 2015 to file a claim against Wyomed under the Wyoming Medical Review Panel Act. Mr. Vance ultimately filed his complaint against Wyomed on May 18, 2015.[1]

         [¶6] Wyomed filed a motion to dismiss under W.R.C.P 12(b)(6), asserting that any negligence occurred on December 5, 2012, and that Mr. Vance's claim was filed beyond the two year statute of limitations established in Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-107(a) (LexisNexis 2015). Mr. Vance filed a response claiming he first discovered Wyomed's alleged negligence at an administrative employment hearing on February 12, 2013. He acknowledged that § 1-3-107(a) establishes a two year statute of limitations, and he argued that "the [s]tatute of [l]imitations begins to run from discovery of the error or omission."

         [¶7] The district court granted the motion to dismiss on July 27, 2015, without conducting a hearing. ...


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