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Brown v. Brown

Supreme Court of Wyoming

December 14, 2016

DAROLD M. BROWN, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
TANA J. BROWN, n/k/a TANA J. BENNETT, Appellee (Plaintiff).

         Appeal from the District Court of Park County The Honorable Steven R. Cranfill, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Donna D. Domonkos, Domonkos Law Office, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

          Representing Appellee: George L. Simonton, Attorney at Law, Cody, Wyoming.

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

          BURKE, Chief Justice.

         [¶1] Appellant, Darold M. Brown, failed to designate witnesses and exhibits in accordance with a pretrial scheduling order in this divorce proceeding. As a result, the district court imposed sanctions. It ruled that Mr. Brown could not present witnesses or exhibits at trial. Mr. Brown challenges that ruling in this appeal. We affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶2] Mr. Brown presents one issue: Did the district court abuse its discretion when it sanctioned him for discovery violations when Ms. Brown's counsel and the district court did not follow W.R.C.P. 37? Ms. Brown states three issues:

1. Is the issue set forth by Mr. Brown consistent with the district court's decision and the record?
2. Did the district court abuse its discretion in restricting Mr. Brown from producing witnesses and evidence for failure to follow the Scheduling Order under Rule 16 of the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure?
3. Is the appeal filed by Mr. Brown frivolous such that attorney fees and costs should be awarded to Appellee?

         FACTS

         [¶3] Mr. and Ms. Brown were married in 2009. They had a child in 2010 and another in 2012. On October 3, 2014, Ms. Brown filed a Complaint seeking a divorce from Mr. Brown. Shortly thereafter, the district court was presented with a stipulated "Decree of Divorce with Minor Children" signed by both parties. Neither party was represented by counsel. The district court signed the proposed decree, and entered it six days after the Complaint had been filed. The stipulated terms of the decree provided for joint legal and physical custody of the children and a division of specified property.

         [¶4] Approximately ten months later, on August 5, 2015, Ms. Brown, acting through counsel, filed a motion to vacate or modify the divorce decree. In her motion, she alleged that the divorce decree had been entered less than twenty days after the complaint was filed, contrary to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-108[1] (LexisNexis 2013). She also contended that the decree did not distribute all assets and debts, and that the agreed-upon joint custody was no longer in the children's best interests. Mr. Brown, also acting through counsel, filed a "Response to Plaintiff's Motion and Counterclaim" on August 25. The ...


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