Gilliland v. Steinhoefel, 4303

Decision Date15 May 1974
Docket NumberNo. 4303,4303
Citation521 P.2d 1350
PartiesOlin L. GILLILAND, Appellant (Plaintiff below), v. Robert A. STEINHOEFEL, Appellee (Defendant below).
CourtWyoming Supreme Court

Rex O. Arney and Redle, Yonkee & Arney, Sheridan, for appellant.

Robert R. Rose, Jr., Casper, for appellee.

Before PARKER, C. J., and McEWAN, GUTHRIE, McINTYRE and McCLINTOCK, JJ.

Mr. Chief Justice PARKER delivered the opinion of the court.

Plaintiff, Olin L. Gilliland, sued Robert A. Steinhoefel for $200,000 because of injuries and property damage plaintiff suffered while he was driving on a public highway at night and struck a cow belonging to defendant, whose negligence, according to the complaint, caused or contributed to the accident in that defendant allowed his cattle to go on a heavily traveled highway. From a summary judgment for defendant, plaintiff has appealed.

The following facts are undisputed. Steinhoefel and another rancher, not a party to the suit, on December 28, 1970, moved some one hundred cows and their calves from a pasture near Roset along Highway 14-16, intending to take them to defendant's home ranch in the direction of Gillette. The snow in the borrow pit was deep and travel was slow. Between 4:30 and 5 p. m. they left the cattle in a pasture of a rancher, Pickrel, whose land adjoined defendant's, fed them some alfalfa pellets, repaired the gate through which they had placed the cattle in the pasture but made no careful inspection of the fences or other gates and left for their homes. Between 7 and 8 p. m., a highway patrolman, Clifton Ritchie, was summoned to the highway adjacent to the Pickrel pasture where the accident had occurred. He determined that Gilliland had struck a cow on the highway, in his lane of traffic at the place of impact, and had then swerved and struck two pickups parked on the left side of the highway. 1

Plaintiff's appeal is principally grounded on the thesis that summary judgment was improper because there was a genuine issue as to material facts relating to the negligence of defendant, who left the cattle without checking the fences, particularly concerning a gate ('H') in the pasture where the cattle were placed by defendant, certain evidence indicating it to have been open at 4:10 p. m. and that following the accident the investigating patrolman saw cattle tracks coming out of the gate onto the highway. In his argument plaintiff refers to the case of Hinkle v. Siltamaki, Wyo., 361 P.2d 37, which involved an automobile-horse collision where the vehicle operator, claiming injury, could prove only that the defendant owned horses and that they were on the highway where the accident occurred. He suggests that the opinion discussed § 11-507, W.S.1957, 1973 Cum.Supp., 2 as it relates to civil liability, and rejected any claim that absolute liability resulted from a mere showing that the defendant's animals were loose, but he urges that the mentioned statute can be violated by the owner's negligence, as well as by knowledge, consent, or willfulness.

The response is that there was no evidence of defendant's having any knowledge that his cattle were on the public way until after the accident, that his actions refute any implication that he willfully permitted or caused them to be there, and that simple negligence does not support the rule in Hinkle. Defendant poses the question, What is negligent conduct equivalent to 'knowledge, consent and wilfulness?' And he replies, he thinks the answer lies in the definition of the degrees of negligence found in McClure v. Latta, Wyo., 348 P.2d 1057-defendant concluding, 'It imports such a wreckless (sic) disregard of probable consequences, as is equivalent to a wilful and intentional wrong,' a statement which in our view finds no support in the mentioned case. Defendant also urges that the general proposition stated by the plaintiff as to the majority rule being that a person who negligently...

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19 cases
  • Connett v. Fremont County School Dist. No. 6, Fremont County
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • July 11, 1978
    ...of material fact. Mealey v. City of Laramie, Wyo., 472 P.2d 787, 792; Kover v. Hufsmith, Wyo., 496 P.2d 908, 910, and Gilliland v. Steinhoefel, Wyo., 521 P.2d 1350, 1352. When there are genuine issues of material fact, the summary judgment should not be granted. Knudson v. Hilzer, supra, an......
  • Johnson v. Soulis
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • November 21, 1975
    ...Wyo., 382 P.2d 56 (1963). Where there are genuine issues of material fact the summary judgment should not be granted. Gilliland v. Steinhoefel, Wyo., 521 P.2d 1350 (1974); Kover v. Hufsmith, Wyo., 496 P.2d 908 (1972); McClure v. Watson, Wyo., 490 P.2d 1059 (1971); Low v. Sanger, Wyo., 478 P......
  • Timmons v. Reed
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • September 13, 1977
    ...of material fact. Mealey v. City of Laramie, Wyo., 472 P.2d 787, 792; Kover v. Hufsmith, Wyo., 496 P.2d 908, 910, and Gilliland v. Steinhoefel, Wyo., 521 P.2d 1350, 1352. When there are genuine issues of material fact, the summary judgment should not be granted. Knudson v. Hilzer, supra, an......
  • Dubus v. Dresser Industries
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • August 4, 1982
    ...Finally, we are reminded that negligence claims do not lend themselves readily to summary adjudication. See: Gilliland v. Steinhoefel, Wyo., 521 P.2d 1350, 1352 (1974); Forbes Company v. MacNeel, Wyo., 382 P.2d 56, 57 Given these guidelines, it became incumbent upon the movants, Dresser, Jo......
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