HOECHER v. Runyan, No. 00-156.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtHILL, Justice.
Citation2001 WY 39,21 P.3d 339
Docket NumberNo. 00-156.
Decision Date17 April 2001
PartiesCharles C. HOECHER and Joy L. Hoecher, Appellants (Plaintiffs), v. Robert E. RUNYAN, Appellee (Defendant).

21 P.3d 339
2001 WY 39

Charles C. HOECHER and Joy L. Hoecher, Appellants (Plaintiffs),
v.
Robert E. RUNYAN, Appellee (Defendant)

No. 00-156.

Supreme Court of Wyoming.

April 17, 2001.


Representing Appellant: Loyd E. Smith of Murane & Bostwick, LLC, Cheyenne, WY.

Representing Appellee: Mark A. Bishop of Bishop Law Office, Cheyenne, WY.

Before LEHMAN, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, and KITE, JJ.

HILL, Justice.

We review a Judgment and Order of the district court that dismissed with prejudice a complaint filed by the Appellants, Charles and Joy Hoecher (Hoechers). The Hoechers sought to recover damages, as well as attorney's fees, from Appellee, Robert E. Runyan (Runyan), for breach of a real estate sales contract.

We will reverse and remand with directions.

ISSUES

The Hoechers pose these issues for our resolution:

1. Whether the trial court erred in its interpretation of the contract to buy and sell real estate as a matter of law?
A) Whether, under the guise of interpretation, the trial court rewrote the contract and imported into the agreement terms specifically considered and rejected by the parties?
B) Whether the trial court erred in its interpretation of the financing provisions of the contract as a matter of law?
2. Whether the trial court's legal conclusion that Appellee Robert Runyan failed to qualify for financing is correct as a matter of law?
3. Whether the trial court's factual conclusion that Appellee Robert Runyan failed to qualify for financing is clearly erroneous?
4. Whether the trial court erred as a matter of law in its conclusion that the Appellants waived their right to written notice of Appellee's intention to exercise an option to void the contract and their right
21 P.3d 340
to a written letter of declination from Appellee's lender?
5. Whether the trial court erred as a matter of law in ruling that enforcing the written notice requirement would be unconscionable?
6. Whether the trial court's non-sequitur conclusion that Appellee Robert Runyan validly exercised an option to void the contract is error as a matter of law?
7. Whether Appellants, as the non-breaching parties, are entitled to their attorney fees incurred in this appeal and, upon remand, in the trial court proceedings?

Runyan provides this summary of the issues:

I. The trial court was correct in holding that Mr. Runyan's ability to obtain financing was a condition precedent to the contract.
II. The trial court was correct in finding that Mr. Runyan failed to qualify for financing.
III. The trial court was correct in finding that Mr. Runyan exercised his option to void the contract under Paragraph V.E. and that the Appellants' [sic] waived their right to written notice of the seller's denial of financing and intent to void the contract.

The Hoechers identify several rebuttal issues in their reply brief:

1. Appellee misstates, mischaracterizes, and embellishes the record.
2. Appellant did not waive the issue of whether the contract is unambiguous.
3. A condition precedent cannot arise from ambiguity.
4. Impracticability is not a defense to a failure to give notice of an event that never occurred.

FACTS

The facts are not so much complicated as they are lengthy. The Hoechers set out to sell their home in Cheyenne at an advertised price of $214,500.00 without the assistance of a real estate agent. Runyan agreed to buy it. As we proceed through the mire of facts, it is helpful to begin with a recitation of the facts which the district court determined were dispositive of this matter, hence, justifying dismissal of the complaint with prejudice. The district court took note of the basic fact that the Hoechers and Runyan had entered into a contract on July 29, 1997. On June 10, 1997, Security First Bank (SFB) sent a letter to Runyan that summarized a conversation Runyan had with SFB on June 10, 1997. The letter stated that SFB would lend Runyan up to $200,000.00 under these terms:

A 5 year loan, priced at 1 year Treasury plus 300 basis points, with annual interest adjustments. Interest would be payable monthly.
A loan fee of 2% of amount financed paid by [Runyan].
The bank would lend up to 70% of appraised value of the residence purchased. Publicly traded stock, owned by [Runyan], will be pledged to the Bank in the amount equal to 30% of the loan amount financed as additional collateral.
[Runyan] will deposit an amount into the bank equal to Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance for one year to be held by the bank to be pledged as additional collateral.

Additional details of the proposal were eventually spelled out in a Truth-In-Lending disclosure statement. Those details included that, based on a loan amount of $217,104.10, Runyan would make one monthly payment in advance and then make 59 monthly payments of $1,565.94 beginning October 1, 1997, and then a balloon payment of $223,160.94 on September 1, 2002.

This sort of loan is characterized as a portfolio loan. Once Runyan received the June 10, 1997, commitment letter, he proceeded to look for a home in Cheyenne. Runyan was aided in his search by Dawn Chymych (Agent), and the Agent was to be paid for her services by a 3% commission on the selling price of the house. Runyan made an initial offer of $207,000.00, but the Hoechers rejected that. At Runyan's...

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2 practice notes
  • Skaf v. Wyo. Cardiopulmonary Servs., P.C., S-20-0266
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 27, 2021
    ..."The interpretation and construction of contracts is a matter of law for the courts" and is reviewed de novo. Hoecher v. Runyan , 2001 WY 39, ¶ 11, 21 P.3d 339, 342 (Wyo. 2001).[495 P.3d 893 B. Analysis [¶14] "We have defined waiver as the intentional relinquishment of a known right[2 ] tha......
  • Skaf v. Wyo. Cardiopulmonary Servs., S-20-0266
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 27, 2021
    ...Agreement. "The interpretation and construction of contracts is a matter of law for the courts" and is reviewed de novo. Hoecher v. Runyan, 2001 WY 39, ¶ 11, 21 P.3d 339, 342 (Wyo. 2001). B. Analysis [¶14] "We have defined waiver as the intentional relinquishment of a known right[2] that mu......
2 cases
  • Skaf v. Wyo. Cardiopulmonary Servs., P.C., S-20-0266
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 27, 2021
    ..."The interpretation and construction of contracts is a matter of law for the courts" and is reviewed de novo. Hoecher v. Runyan , 2001 WY 39, ¶ 11, 21 P.3d 339, 342 (Wyo. 2001).[495 P.3d 893 B. Analysis [¶14] "We have defined waiver as the intentional relinquishment of a known right[2 ] tha......
  • Skaf v. Wyo. Cardiopulmonary Servs., S-20-0266
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 27, 2021
    ...Agreement. "The interpretation and construction of contracts is a matter of law for the courts" and is reviewed de novo. Hoecher v. Runyan, 2001 WY 39, ¶ 11, 21 P.3d 339, 342 (Wyo. 2001). B. Analysis [¶14] "We have defined waiver as the intentional relinquishment of a known right[2] that mu......

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