Lawsuit Claims Former Mills Mayor Committed Fraud, Breached Contract
A Mills couple has filed a lawsuit in Natrona County District Court, alleging that the former mayor of Mills fraudulently advertised property and breached a contract with the couple after they purchased three lots in order to put a mobile home there, only to find out mobile homes are prohibited by town zoning ordinances.
The lawsuit, filed July 20, was brought by William and Jacqueline Cavanaugh and initially named former Mills Mayor Marrolyce Wilson, Town Clerk Christine Trumbull and Town Planner Kevin O'Hearn as defendants in their capacities as individuals and as public officials. Since then, the plaintiffs moved to drop the suit against everyone but Wilson in her personal capacity.
On or about Sept. 11, 2015, the suit claims, the Cavanaughs bought three lots in Mills for $30,000. The lots had been owned and were sold by Wilson.
The Cavanaughs planned to put a mobile home on the land, and made that plan known to both the Town of Mills through Wilson and O'Hearn, and to Wilson, prior to the purchase.
The Cavanaughs had inspections done, received a mobile home moving permit from the Town of Mills and had town electricians and water employees on the property.
According to the suit, O'Hearn was on site several times and told the Cavanaughs that they were permitted to put a mobile home on the property.
Wilson, the suit claims, advertised that the lots were the type of land where a mobile home was allowed.
When the Cavanaughs finally moved their mobile home on the land, they were told they were in violation of the town's zoning ordinances and they'd have to remove it immediately.
Having made their plans known to Wilson, the Cavanaughs had been told they could put a mobile home on the property and "specifically relied on this information when purchasing the property and they have suffered damages as a result of the breaches by... Ms. Wilson."
The suit does not specify damages, but says the amount is to be proven at trial.
The lawsuit claims five counts: breach of contract, fraud, fraud in the inducement -- for "inducing" the Cavanaughs into signing the purchase contract -- breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and negligence.
Wilson is accused of fraudulently advertising the lots -- located at 928, 940 and 952 South Third Street in Mills -- as being eligible for mobile homes, "when she knew, or should have known, that the lots were not..."
The plaintiffs allege Wilson fraudulently advertised the lots as such in order to make her sale of the property easier.
Wilson, in her answer to the complaint, denies the allegations against her and asserts a number of affirmative defenses.
Those defenses include claims that the Cavanaughs' complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Further, Wilson says the Cavanaughs could have mitigated their damages, but failed to do so, and as such are "solely responsible for their unmitigated damages."
Wilson also says the Cavanaughs failed to "state their claims with particularity as required by the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure," and their fraud claim fails as a result. She also says the Cavanaughs' claims based on theories of negligence are barred because the Cavanaughs shoulder at least fifty percent of the fault for their damages.
Wilson also says any claims based on negligence are barred by the economic loss rule. She says all the Cavanaughs' claims are barred by waiver.
In her counterclaim, Wilson says the Cavanaughs are "asserting legal claims directly contrary to the express terms of the contract," and have thus breached the contract. Wilson points to elements of the contract which specify the "Buyer is not relying upon any representation of seller... as to any condition which Buyer deems to be material to Buyer's decision to purchase the property," and "Buyer accepts the property in its entirety in 'as is, where is' condition without any implied or express warranty by Seller or by any Broker."
In essence, the contract says that any claim by Wilson about the property that is not specifically in the contract, is not legally binding.
Another element of the contract, Wilson says, allows the non-defaulting or non-breaching party to collect attorney's fees from the other party in the event of conflict. Wilson's counterclaim requests the court award her a judgement for all costs, fees and expenses resulting from defending against the Cavanaughs' suit.