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Deede v. Deede

Supreme Court of Wyoming

August 14, 2018

FRANK A. DEEDE, Appellant (Defendant),
KERRY E. DEEDE, k/n/a KERRY E. WALLACE, Appellee (Plaintiff).

          Appeal from the District Court of Fremont County The Honorable Norman E. Young, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Collin C. Hopkins, The Law Offices of Collin Hopkins, PC, Riverton, Wyoming.

          Representing Appellee:Frank B. Watkins, Frank B. Watkins, PC, Riverton, Wyoming.

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

          FOX, JUSTICE.

         [¶1] Frank A. Deede challenges an order denying his motion to reduce the amount he owes his ex-wife, Kerry E. Wallace, pursuant to the terms of their divorce settlement agreement and the district court's subsequent contempt orders. We affirm and award sanctions.


         [¶2] 1. Did the district court abuse its discretion when it denied Mr. Deede's motion to modify amount due, which was based on Mr. Deede's allegation that some of the underlying debt was forgiven?

         2. Is Ms. Wallace entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs under W.R.A.P. 10.05?


         [¶3] Mr. Deede and Ms. Wallace were married on July 5, 1998, and divorced on March 26, 2009. During their marriage, they purchased real estate known as the Longpoint property. They financed their $25, 000 down payment on the property with a Bank of America credit card. The terms of their divorce settlement awarded Mr. Deede the Longpoint property and required him to pay several debts, including the balance on the Bank of America credit card, by June 1, 2009. Mr. Deede failed to make those payments; the district court found him in contempt and ordered that he be jailed unless he made arrangements to pay the debt. Instead of making such arrangements, Mr. Deede filed for bankruptcy. Because no payments were made on the Bank of America credit card, the account went into default, and Bank of America threatened collection against Ms. Wallace. Ms. Wallace made several payments and then her father settled the debt. Ms. Wallace later repaid her father. Ms. Wallace filed a Proof of Claim with the bankruptcy court in the amount of $51, 282.62, which was based upon payments that Mr. Deede owed under the terms of the divorce settlement, payments Ms. Wallace had made on the debt, and her attorney fees. Ms. Wallace received a distribution of $9, 659.29 from the bankruptcy trustee on August 1, 2016.

         [¶4] In November 2016, Ms. Wallace filed another request to hold Mr. Deede in contempt because the remainder of his debt to her was not discharged in bankruptcy and Mr. Deede had not complied with the terms of the divorce settlement or the prior contempt order. With additional attorney fees incurred from the bankruptcy and second contempt proceedings, the outstanding balance claimed by Ms. Wallace was $52, 157.83. In February 2017, the district court found Mr. Deede in contempt and ordered him to begin serving a 90-day jail term in March 2017, unless he purged his contempt. The court awarded Ms. Wallace a judgment of $41, 623.33, plus interest and attorney fees in the amount of $1, 595.00. In April 2017, Mr. Deede was jailed for failing to comply with the contempt order. After serving 8 days, Mr. Deede's jail sentence was suspended, and in August 2017, the district court entered an order requiring Mr. Deede to pay Ms. Wallace $56, 055.41 on or before October 2, 2017, or serve the remaining 82 days of his suspended jail sentence.

         [¶5] Mr. Deede filed a motion to stay his jail sentence and to modify the amount due. He argued that he should be credited for $27, 782.91 because, he alleged, Bank of America cancelled that amount of debt when Ms. Wallace's father settled with it. Bank of America issued a Form 1099-C, indicating debt forgiveness in the amount of $27, 782.91. Ms. Wallace contended that the amount forgiven was interest that had accrued after the account went into default. Mr. Deede argued that the amount could not have been for interest only and that Bank of America had to have forgiven some of the debt because it was not mathematically possible to have generated over $27, 000 in interest on a $25, 000 charge. After an unrecorded hearing, on October 24, 2017, the district court denied Mr. Deede's motion, finding that Mr. Deede had failed to prove that the amount due was incorrect or that he "should otherwise be given a credit against the Bank of America debt." Also on October 24, the court entered an order releasing Mr. Deede from jail, recognizing that he paid $26, 000.00 to Ms. Wallace, and ordering him to pay the outstanding $30, 315.41 (which included $860.00 ...

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