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Byrnes v. Harper

Supreme Court of Wyoming

February 23, 2018

J. MICHAELA BYRNES, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
MICHAEL W. HARPER and CARLA JO HARPER, husband and wife, Appellees (Plaintiffs).

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

          Representing Appellant: Pro se

          Representing Appellee: Christopher M. Wages, The Wages Group, LLC

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

          DAVIS, Justice.

         [¶1] J. Michaela Byrnes sold property to Michael and Carla Jo Harper on a contract for deed. A dispute arose over the Harpers' right to prepay the contract and Ms. Byrnes' obligation to deliver the deed, and the Harpers filed a declaratory judgment action. The district court ruled in favor of the Harpers and ordered Ms. Byrnes to pay attorney fees and costs for discovery violations. Ms. Byrnes filed a pro se appeal from both orders. We dismiss Ms. Byrnes' appeal of the declaratory judgment ruling as untimely, summarily affirm the order awarding fees and costs for failure to present cogent argument or pertinent authority, and grant the Harpers' request for sanctions pursuant to W.R.A.P. 10.05.

         ISSUES

         [¶2] We agree with the Harpers' statement of the dispositive issues, which we restate as:

1. Did Ms. Byrnes file a timely notice of appeal from the district court's declaratory judgment order?
2. Did Ms. Byrnes support her appeal from the order awarding fees and costs with cogent argument or pertinent authority?
3. Should the Harpers be awarded sanctions pursuant to W.R.A.P. 10.05?

         FACTS

         [¶3] Ms. Byrnes sold property in Johnson County to the Harpers on a contract for deed dated September 1, 2015. Rather than placing the deed in escrow, Ms. Byrnes retained the deed until final payment. In November 2015, the Harpers notified Ms. Byrnes that they had obtained financing and wished to pay the outstanding balance on the contract for deed. The Harpers made multiple requests that Ms. Byrnes deliver the deed to the closing agent, but Ms. Byrnes refused.

         [¶4] On September 1, 2016, the Harpers filed a complaint for declaratory judgment seeking a declaration that the contract for deed allowed early payoff and required Ms. Byrnes to deliver the deed. The Harpers also requested that the district court order Ms. Byrnes to remove her personal ...


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