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Date: 05-13-2022

Case Style:

CIBC National Trust Company, et al. v. Patrick Lawler Dominick

Case Number: S-21-0207

Judge: Fox

Court: Supreme Court of Wyoming

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Ericka M. Nash and Aaron Lyttle

Description: Jackson, Wyoming probate lawyers represented the parties in a right of succession to property dispute seeking a declaratory judgment.

[¶3] On November 4, 2013, Julie Ann Bell and Patrick Dominick purchased a home in
Teton County, Wyoming. That day, prior to closing on the purchase, they executed a
Tenants-In-Common Agreement (TIC Agreement). The TIC Agreement began with the
following recitals:
1. The Owners have, simultaneous with the
execution of this Agreement, each acquired a Fifty Percent
(50%) undivided interest as tenants-in-common in and to that
certain real property located at [address omitted] (the
2. The Owners each own their respective interest in
the Property as tenants-in-common, and wish to define their
respective rights and responsibilities with respect to the
Property, as well as terms necessary to ensure the proper and
orderly management and operation of the Property during the
period of the Owners’ co-ownership.
3. The Owners each wish to establish an orderly
process by which they will dissolve their interests in the
Property, should one or both Owners die, breach this
Agreement or otherwise wish to disengage from their coownership of the Property.
[¶4] The TIC Agreement further provided:

3. Status of Owners’ Relationship. Each Owner
acknowledges that it is his/her intention to hold the Property as
tenants-in-common and that they have expressly elected not to
become partners, and that neither this Agreement nor any
provision hereof shall be interpreted so as to impose a
partnership at either law or equity upon the Owners.
Accordingly, except as specifically set forth herein, no Owner
shall have any liability for the debt or obligation of any other
* * *
5. Right of First Refusal and Sale of the
* * *
b. Buy-Sell Provision. In the event that . . .
the other Owner passes away, then in any such case, either
Owner (including the Executor or successor-in-interest of a
deceased Owner) shall have the right to dissolve the tenancy in
common and compel the sale of the Property, after such Owner
(the “Dissolving Owner”) has first offered to buy the other
Owner’s interest in the Property . . . .
(Emphasis in original.)
[¶5] When Ms. Bell and Mr. Dominick closed on the purchase later that day, they
accepted a warranty deed for the property, which described their ownership as “joint
tenants with rights of survivorship.” The warranty deed was recorded the next day, on
November 5, 2013.
[¶6] Ms. Bell died in August 2015, and in October 2015, Mr. Dominick recorded an
affidavit of survivorship. The TIC Agreement was not recorded during Ms. Bell’s lifetime,
but in March 2016, an attorney for her estate’s executor recorded it.
[¶7] Mr. Dominick and CIBC National Trust Company, the executor of Ms. Bell’s estate,
disputed which document governed ownership of the property, the warranty deed or the
TIC Agreement. CIBC filed for declaratory judgment that the TIC Agreement governed,
and also asserted claims for breach of contract or partition. On appeal, CIBC summarized
the three counts of its complaint as follows:

(1) Count 1 for declaratory judgment that [the Estate] and Mr.
Dominick hold the Property as tenants-in-common; that Mr.
Dominick’s Affidavit of Survivorship should be stricken from
the land records; and that the TIC Agreement is a valid and
enforceable contract governing the parties’ rights and
responsibilities with respect to the Property; (2) Count II for
breach of the TIC Agreement by Mr. Dominick for refusing the
Estate’s offer pursuant to the TIC Agreement to purchase his
50% interest in the Property, and seeking an order that Mr.
Dominick specifically perform the terms of the TIC
Agreement, particularly with regard to its Buy-Sell provisions;
and (3) Count III, in the alternative to specific performance,
that the Property be partitioned

Outcome: Affirmed.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:


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