Platt v. Creighton, No. 06-62.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtHill
Citation2007 WY 18,150 P.3d 1194
Decision Date31 January 2007
Docket NumberNo. 06-62.
PartiesRalph E. PLATT, Appellant (Plaintiff), v. Alice A. CREIGHTON and Murray C. Creighton, Appellees (Defendants).

Page 1194

150 P.3d 1194
2007 WY 18
Ralph E. PLATT, Appellant (Plaintiff),
Alice A. CREIGHTON and Murray C. Creighton, Appellees (Defendants).
No. 06-62.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
January 31, 2007.

Page 1195

Representing Appellant: William D. Bagley of Bagley, Karpan, Rose & White, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellees: Stephen H. Kline of Kline Law Office, PC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Before VOIGT, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, KITE, and BURKE, JJ.

HILL, Justice.

[¶ 1] Ralph E. Platt (Platt) filed a Complaint alleging that the Defendants, his niece Alice A. Creighton and her husband Murray C. Creighton, held over 151 cows with calves and cows due to calve owned by him in a constructive trust as part of a "joint venture" in conjunction with a lease with the Platt Ranch Trust (the Trust). Platt alleged that the Defendants had failed to account for the joint venture cattle operation and sought an accounting of funds, termination of the constructive trust, and a return of the cattle or their value. The Defendants timely filed a motion for summary judgment. Pursuant to an oral agreement with counsel for the Defendants, Platt filed his response and substantive materials after the deadline established by the district court's scheduling order. The district court ruled that Platt's response to the motion for summary judgment was untimely, that no cause had been shown for the failure to comply with the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure and the court's scheduling order and, therefore, Platt had no materials properly before the court subject to consideration in ruling on the motion for summary judgment. The court proceeded to grant the motion concluding that Platt's Complaint was barred by the applicable statutes of limitations, Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-105(a)(iv)(B) (LexisNexis 2005) (four-year statute of limitations for suits to recover an interest in personal property) and Cox v. City of Cheyenne, 2003 WY 146, ¶ 28, 79 P.3d 500, 509 (Wyo.2003) (four-year statute of limitations for suits in equity), because the last transaction concerning the disputed cattle occurred on April 1, 1998 and Platt did not file his Complaint until June 6, 2005, which was outside the four-year limitation period. Platt appeals the district court's ruling. We will affirm.


[¶ 2] In his brief, Platt sets forth the following issues:

Issue No. 1: Did the District Court err in refusing to accept the agreement of counsel allowing Plaintiff additional time to respond

Page 1196

to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment when the response was complete and the agreed extension did not interfere with the time table in the Scheduling Order?

Issue No. 2: In the alternative, did the District Court err in refusing to recognize that Plaintiff's reliance on such an agreement was, at worst, excusable neglect as defined by W.R.C.P. Rule 6(b)?

Issue No. 3: Did the District Court err in making its determination based on the Statute of Limitations based on the record before the Court on January 20, 2006?

Issue No. 4: The legal system; bench, bar and client.

In reply, the Defendants frame the issues as:

1. Did the District Court commit error in finding that Plaintiff's failure to file a timely Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment was inexcusable and in finding that Plaintiff thus had no response before the Court relating to the Motion for Summary Judgment?

2. Did the District Court properly determine that the Statute of Limitations for this action ran prior to the action being filed?


[¶ 3] On June 6, 2005, Platt filed a Complaint containing the following allegations and requests for relief:

On October 10, 2001, Ralph E. Platt and his brother Wayne W. Platt, as tenants-in-common owning the Platt Ranch, formed the Platt Ranch Trust for the purpose of holding the ranch lands.

On or about April 1, 1998, Platt Ranch Trust leased the ranch and related assets to Alice A. Creighton and Murray C. Creighton, husband and wife. The Ranch Lease Agreement provides that:

the leased property includes all of Lessor's deeded land, leased land, Forest Service permits, machinery, equipment, water and water rights, and improvements. All parts, furnishings, inventory, hay upon the premises, seed, furniture, fixtures, current inventory of supplies, are included in the lease.

The lease also provides that:

Lessees agree during each lease term to pay, when due, all property taxes and liability insurance premiums upon the property. [Lessees] agree to pay all utility charges, fuel, labor, maintenance and repairs of equipment, veterinary expenses, BLM lease charges, Forest Service permit charges, and normal ranch operation costs consistent with their ranching practices.

As part of the ranch operation on or about April 1, 1998, Plaintiff Ralph E. Platt entered into a venture with Alice A. Creighton and Murray Creighton whereby he set over to them one hundred and fifty one cows with calves and cows due to calve having a value of $120,000.00 for use in the ranch operation, and Defendants agreed to pay related veterinary expenses, forest service permit charges and related costs and to provide a fair return on the investment.

Defendants hold Plaintiff's cattle, and Plaintiff's replacement cattle in a constructive trust.

Defendants have refused to account for the joint venture cattle operation and are unjustly enriched.

Plaintiff now seeks an accounting of funds and increase in the venture together with a termination of the resulting trust and a return of said cattle and normal increase, less venture costs, or the value thereof.

The Defendants answered and generally denied the allegations of the Complaint and asserted, among other affirmative defenses, that Platt's claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. On September 12, 2005, the district court issued a scheduling order allowing for discovery and setting a deadline of December 1, 2005 for the filing of any dispositive motions and giving the opposing party twenty days after filing to respond.

[¶ 4] On November 30, 2005, the Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment along with supporting materials including excerpts from the deposition of Platt and his brother Wayne, a sworn affidavit from Alice Creighton, and documentation relating to the

Page 1197

operation of the Ranch and the Trust. The Defendants alleged the following facts:

• In October of 2001, the Ranch property, which was jointly owned by Platt and his brother Wayne, was placed in a revocable trust called the Platt Ranch Trust with the brothers as the trustees. Either trustee had the power to make decisions for the Trust without the consent of the other.

• Day-to-day operation of the Ranch was handled primarily by Wayne.

• In 1991, Wayne, who was almost seventy years old, determined that he needed someone to help run the Ranch. The Platt brothers extended an offer to Wayne's daughter and son-in-law, Alice and Murray Creighton, to help run the Ranch operations.

• The Creightons, who had been working on a ranch in Montana, agreed to the offer shortly after the Ranch was placed in the Trust. Since the Ranch could not afford to pay the Creightons the same wages they had been receiving in Montana, an agreement was reached to transfer a small number of cattle from the Trust to the Creightons each year as payment for their services.

• Further, because of the advancing ages of Platt and Wayne, coupled with a lack of interest from their other relatives in the Ranch operations, an additional agreement was reached with the Creightons whereby the Trust's heifers would be traded for an equal amount of steers from the Creightons' personal herd each year. This agreement maximized short-term income for the Trust while allowing the Creightons to build a breeding herd.

• Beginning in January of 1992, the Creightons operated the Ranch as employees of the Trust over the next six years.

• Pursuant to the parties' agreements, cows were transferred annually to the Creightons as compensation for their services while the Trust swapped heifers for herd steers.

• In January of 1992, the Trust owned 350 head of cattle with Platt holding a fifty percent interest. Between January of 1992 and April 1, 1998, forty-eight head of cattle were transferred to the Creightons per the parties' agreement. The Creightons purchased an additional ten outright for cash in 1993. The remainder of the Trust herd either died, came up missing, or was sold at auction with the money going to the Trust so that by April 1, 1998, the Trust held only six cattle.

• On April 1, 1998, the remaining cows and the Ranch's brand were transferred to the Creightons as part of an agreement for them to lease the Ranch for their own cattle operations.

• Platt and Wayne signed the document finalizing the cattle and brand transfer and the Lease.

• Platt denied he initially knew of the agreement to transfer cattle in lieu of salary to the Creightons but admitted that he became aware of it early on and never objected to it.

• Platt also admitted that he was aware that after April 1, 1998, he did not own any cattle personally.

• Pursuant to the Lease between the parties, the Creightons pay the Trust $24,000 a year.

• The Lease, with a renewal in 2003, has continued in effect since April 1998. Platt and Wayne both signed the Lease and have split the annual payment.

• Platt did not assert any ownership interest in or claim any income from the cattle operations on the Ranch outside of the annual Lease payment until the Spring of 2004 when he demanded an accounting from the Creightons; a claim that has triggered the current legal proceedings.

[¶ 5] The filing of the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on November 30, 2005, triggered a twenty-day response period pursuant to the court's scheduling order and W.R.C.P. 6(c). Citing seasonal difficulties and travel conflicts, counsel for Platt contacted opposing counsel before the December 20, 2005, filing...

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  • Chapman v. Wyo. Dep't of Corr., S–15–0112.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 15 Enero 2016
    ...a grant of summary judgment deciding a question of law de novo and afford no deference to the trial court's ruling.Platt v. Creighton, 2007 WY 18, ¶ 7, 150 P.3d 1194, 1198 (Wyo.2007) (quoting Black v. William Insulation, Co., 2006 WY 106, ¶ 7, 141 P.3d 123, 126–27 (Wyo.2006) ).We will affir......
  • Cosco v. Lampert, S-09-0106.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 26 Abril 2010
    ...a grant of summary judgment deciding a question of law de novo and afford no deference to the trial court's ruling. Platt v. Creighton, 2007 WY 18, ¶ 7, 150 P.3d 1194, 1198 (Wyo.2007) (quoting Black v. William Insulation, Co., 2006 WY 106, ¶ 7, 141 P.3d 123, 126-27 We will affirm a grant of......
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    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 21 Noviembre 2012
    ...of a cause of action. Carnahan v. Lewis, 2012 WY 45, ¶ 27, 273 P.3d 1065, 1073 (Wyo.2012); [288 P.3d 1187]see also Platt v. Creighton, 2007 WY 18, ¶ 11, 150 P.3d 1194, 1200 (Wyo.2007); Olson v. A.H. Robins Co., 696 P.2d 1294, 1297 (Wyo.1985). We have explained: That is, the statute begins t......
  • Wilson v. Tyrrell, s. S–10–0054
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 19 Enero 2011
    ...should have filed its certificate of costs within twenty days of entry of the November 24, 2009, order. They cite Platt v. Creighton, 2007 WY 18, ¶ 9, 150 P.3d 1194, 1199 (Wyo.2007) for the proposition that time limits established by court rule are mandatory. While this legal proposition ma......
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