DAVID NORRIS and LISA NORRIS, husband and wife, Appellants (Plaintiffs),
SHELLY BESEL, Appellee (Defendant).
from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable John
R. Perry, Judge.
Representing Appellant James L. Edwards, Stevens, Edwards,
Hallock & Carpenter, P.C., Gillette, Wyoming. Argument by
Representing Appellee Randall T. Cox, The RT Cox Law Firm;
Alex Berger, Berger & Brown, Attorneys, Gillette,
Wyoming. Argument by Mr. Berger.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
Appellants, David and Lisa Norris, hired Leonard Besel, d/b/a
Leonard's Home Improvement, to remodel their home. Mr.
Besel terminated the contract prior to completing the project
and Mr. and Mrs. Norris filed suit. The Norrises named Mr.
Besel's wife, Shelly Besel, as a defendant, alleging she
was a partner of her husband's contracting business. Mrs.
Besel denied any ownership interest and moved for summary
judgment. The district court granted the motion and dismissed
Mrs. Besel from the litigation with prejudice. We affirm.
The Norrises state their issue on appeal as:
Whether the decision of the district court granting summary
judgment in favor of Shelly Besel was correct?
A. Does a material issue of fact exist based on the evidence
presented as to Shelly Besel's status vis a vis
B. Was Shelly Besel entitled to judgment as a matter of law?
Mrs. Norris posted an inquiry on the Gillette Area
Classifieds Facebook page seeking potential contractors to
remodel a home in Pine Haven, Wyoming. Mrs. Besel responded
to the inquiry on January 13, 2016, and stated:
My husband has been in business for over 20 years and has
vast experience in painting[, ] drywall[, ] flooring[, ]
roofing[, ] window installation[, ] and much more. His
business is Leonard[']s Home Improvement[.] [H]e is
insured and bonded[.]
also provided her husband's telephone number. The
Norrises contacted Mr. Besel directly, and, on March 18,
2016, the Norrises, as homeowners, and Mr. Besel, as the
owner of Leonard's Home Improvement, executed a written
contract setting forth the terms of the remodel project.
Several months later, Mrs. Norris sent Facebook messages to
Mrs. Besel when Mr. Besel did not return the Norrises'
phone calls or respond to their text messages. Each time,
Mrs. Besel indicated she would pass along the message to her
husband or stated she would have him call them. Mr. Besel
terminated the contract in late August.
Mr. and Mrs. Norris filed a complaint asserting claims for
breach of contract and breach of warranty. The complaint
named Mr. and Mrs. Besel, d/b/a Leonard's Home
Improvement, as defendants. Mrs. Besel moved to dismiss
herself from the lawsuit and filed an affidavit of
non-involvement. The district court denied the motion. After
the parties conducted discovery, Mrs. Besel moved for summary
judgment, disavowing any partnership interest in
Leonard's Home Improvement. The district court granted her
motion following a hearing.
Mr. Besel filed a bankruptcy petition, thus causing the
district court to stay the remainder of the court
proceedings. Mrs. Besel did not seek bankruptcy protection
and, on the Norrises' request, the district court entered
a final judgment dismissing Mrs. Besel from the litigation to
allow an immediate appeal.