Gordon & Rees Denver Office Trial Team Obtains $1.5 million Judgment for Cattle Investors

On April 23, 2012, the Gordon & Rees commercial litigators Byeongsook Seo and Ross Hoogerhyde obtained a $1.5 million judgment for a group of cattle owners and investors, Cecil Hart, Elizabeth Severson, and Don Smart, against the cattle ranchers they hired to manager their cattle, Vernon E. Wagner and Wagner-Meyers Enterprises, LLC. The dispute arose out of the Ranchers’ failure to adequately manage the investors’ cattle.

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Denver, CO (PRWEB) August 03, 2012

On April 23, 2012, Gordon & Rees commercial litigators Byeongsook Seo and Ross Hoogerhyde obtained a $1.5 million judgment for a group of cattle owners and investors, Cecil Hart, Elizabeth Severson, and Don Smart, against the cattle ranchers they hired to manage their cattle, Vernon E. Wagner and Wagner-Meyers Enterprises, LLC.

The dispute, John Stulp, Colo. Commissioner of Agriculture, v. Vernon Wagner, et al., District Court, Park County, Colorado, Case No. 2010cv134, arose out of the Ranchers’ failure to adequately manage the investors’ cattle.

The ranchers owned and operated a beef-cattle ranch that covered hundreds of thousands of acres in Park County, Colorado. Starting in 2000, the investors entered into contracts with the ranchers in which the investors leased their cattle to the ranchers to breed and to auction off the calves each year, known as the “calf-crop,” according to court documents. Evidence at trial showed that in exchange the ranchers agreed to maintain the quality and amount of the investors’ cattle and to provide the investors an agreed-upon annual return.

By 2009, records showed the investors had provided the ranchers with 1,211 cows and 60 bulls and the ranchers had agreed to pay the investors the equivalent of 363 calves from each calf-crop. The ranchers suggested that the annual return on the investment would equal close to 17%. The ranchers were allowed to keep any proceeds from the calf-crop above and beyond this annual return.

The investors, who seldom visited the ranching operations, received the promised annual payments until 2007, Seo said. Unbeknownst to the investors, however, the ranchers eventually lacked the funds to adequately manage their ranch. In fact, by 2007, the ranchers convinced one of the investors, who had been suffering from the late stages of cancer, to lend them hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the costs associated with operating their ranch, which the ranchers never repaid, court records show. Then in May 2010, the investors learned that the ranchers had allowed hundreds of their cattle to die or become malnourished to the point of violating Colorado’s animal protection laws. The health of the investors’ surviving cattle was so poor that the Colorado Department of Agriculture seized and auctioned off the investors’ cattle, state records revealed.

This is what led the investors to sue the ranchers to recover the value of their lost investment and their promised annual returns, Seo said. The ranchers countersued arguing certain cattle investors, who had died before trial, agreed, orally and through acceptance of the ranchers’ performance, to amend that the parties’ contracts in the ranchers’ favor. The surviving investors, unfortunately, were not as involved in dealings with the ranchers as the deceased investors.

After two years of chasing the ranchers through numerous legal proceedings, attorneys Seo and Hoogerhyde were able to finally try the case. Since the investors who usually dealt with the ranchers died before trial, the Gordon & Rees business litigators had to compel most of the needed evidence by questioning the ranchers, Seo said. The Court ruled in favor of the investors on all of their claims. Not only did the Court award prejudgment interest and the right to recover attorneys fees and costs, the Court awarded the investors damages down to the penny sought by Seo and Hoogerhyde.


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