LEWIS M. YANCY, JR. APPELLANT
EUGENE HUNT APPELLEE
FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 35CV-15-659]
HONORABLE ROBERT H. WYATT, JR., JUDGE
Robinson & Zakrzewski, P.A., by: Luke Zakrzewski, for
Hunt and Jan Dewoody Scussel, for appellee.
W. GRUBER, Chief Judge.
Lewis M. Yancy, Jr., appeals from an order of the Jefferson
County Circuit Court granting summary judgment to appellee
Eugene Hunt. Mr. Hunt filed a breach-of-contract action
against Mr. Yancy regarding an agreement between the parties
pursuant to which Mr. Hunt, an attorney, provided legal
services to Mr. Yancy in his divorce case. We hold that there
are genuine issues of material fact to be decided;
accordingly, we reverse the circuit court's order and
remand for further proceedings.
Hunt's complaint alleged that the parties had entered
into a contract on September 21, 2010, pursuant to which Mr.
Hunt would represent Mr. Yancy in his divorce case for a
$2500 retainer and $200 per hour. He alleged that on July 30,
2012, he provided an itemized statement to Mr. Yancy for
services rendered between September 28, 2011, and July 23,
2012, totaling $11, 160. He alleged that on November 1, 2012,
Mr. Yancy paid $350 on the account balance, leaving a balance
of $10, 810. The complaint indicated that since the July 2012
bill, Mr. Hunt had provided additional services in the amount
of $850, leaving a final amount owing of $11, 660, for which
he billed Mr. Yancy in a statement dated March 27, 2013. Mr.
Hunt attached four exhibits to his complaint: a copy of the
contract; the itemized statement dated July 30, 2012; a
receipt documenting Mr. Yancy's $350 payment made on
November 1, 2012; and the statement provided to Mr. Yancy on
March 27, 2013, for a balance due on the account of $11, 660.
Mr. Hunt also filed requests for admission.
Yancy filed an answer, admitting that he had hired Mr. Hunt
to represent him in his divorce, stating that the contract
between the parties "speaks for itself, " and
admitting that he had paid the $350 on his account
represented by the receipt attached to the complaint. He
denied the remaining allegations in the complaint, including
the allegation that he owed Mr. Hunt $11, 660. Mr. Yancy
responded to Mr. Hunt's requests for admission, admitting
that he had signed the contract, that he had paid $350 on
November 1, 2012, and that his divorce case was tried in June
2012. Mr. Yancy also propounded interrogatories and requests
for production of documents, to which Mr. Hunt replied on
March 4, 2016.
response to an interrogatory requesting Mr. Hunt to
"list all payments made to you" by Mr. Yancy and an
accompanying request for production, Mr. Hunt reported the
following payments received from Mr. Yancy: $1, 500 on
September 23, 2010, and $1, 000 on October 6, 2010, were both
applied to the retainer; $250 on March 28, 2011, February 16,
2012, April 24, 2012, and June 5, 2012, indicate they were
all applied to attorney's fees; $350 on July 13, 2012,
receipt not clear but appears to be in part for subpoena;
$45.75 on December 7, 2012, expense for subpoena; and $350 on
November 1, 2012, reflected as attorney's fees paid in
the statement provided to Mr. Yancy on March 27, 2013. Copies
of the receipts for each of these payments were provided.
April 29, 2016, Mr. Hunt filed a motion for summary judgment,
contending that there was no genuine issue of material fact,
and he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on two
issues: (1) whether there was a contract between the parties
and (2) whether the amount he "sued on" was the
amount of debt owed by Mr. Yancy. In support of his motion,
he attached the same four documents that he had attached to
his complaint. Mr. Yancy responded to the motion and filed a
countermotion for summary judgment. He contended that there
were multiple disputed factual issues, including the
interpretation of provisions of the document (contending it
was vague and ambiguous), how the money he paid had been
allocated, whether Mr. Hunt "dedicated his full
professional abilities" to the matter as the contract
required, and the reasonableness of the total fee. He argued
specifically that the contract contained "nebulous
provisions" because it addressed the filing of only
three pleadings and the amounts paid by Mr. Yancy were
"more than sufficient" to cover those three tasks.
He contended that any other services provided would be barred
by the statute of frauds and the statute of limitations. Mr.
Yancy did not attach any affidavits or other documents to his
hearing, the circuit court entered an order on May 17, 2017,
granting the motion without a detailed explanation and
awarding judgment to Mr. Hunt against Mr. Yancy in the amount
of $11, 660 plus prejudgment interest, costs, and
attorney's fees. Mr. Yancy filed this appeal.
parties' contract is set forth below:
circuit court may grant summary judgment only when it is
clear that there are no genuine issues of material fact to be
litigated and that the party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Mitchell v. Lincoln, 366 Ark. 592,
596, 237 S.W.3d 455, 458 (2006). Once the moving party has
established prima facie entitlement to summary judgment by
affidavits, depositions, or other supporting documents, the
opposing party must meet proof with proof and demonstrate the
existence of a material issue of fact. New Maumelle
Harbor v. Rochelle, 338 Ark. 43, 46, 991 S.W.2d 552, 553
(1999). On appellate review, we determine if summary judgment
was appropriate based on whether the evidentiary items
presented by the moving party in support of its motion leave
a material fact question unanswered. Kachigian v. Marion
Cty. Abstract Co., 2011 Ark.App. 704, at 6. This court
views the evidence in the light most favorable to the party
against whom the motion was filed, resolving all doubts and
inferences against the moving party. Druyvestein v.
Gean, 2014 Ark.App. 559, at 7, 445 S.W.3d 529, 532. Our
review focuses not only on the pleadings, but also on the
affidavits and documents filed by the parties. Bingham v.
C & L Elec. Coop., 2015 Ark.App. 237, at 4, 459
S.W.3d 831, 833.
judgment is not proper, however, "where evidence,
although in no material dispute as to actuality, reveals
aspects from which inconsistent hypotheses might reasonably
be drawn and reasonable minds might differ." Thomas
v. Sessions, 307 Ark. 203, 208, 818 S.W.2d 940, 943
(1991). The object of summary-judgment proceedings is not to
try the issues, but to determine if there are any issues to
be tried, and if there is any doubt whatsoever, the motion
should be denied. Flentje v. First Nat'l Bank of