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Oakly Enters., LLC v. NPI, LLC

Supreme Court of Alaska

August 28, 2015

OAKLY ENTERPRISES, LLC, and RYAN FRIESEN, Appellants,
v.
NPI, LLC; NPI TIMBER, LLC; and COREY WHITNEY, individually and d/b/a WHITNEY LOGGING, Appellees

Page 1074

Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Palmer, Kari Kristiansen, Judge. Superior Court Nos. 3PA-08-01671 CI and 3PA-08-01349 CI (Consolidated).

David D. Clark, Law Office of David Clark, Anchorage, for Appellant.

Jonathon A. Katcher, Pope & Katcher, and Debra J. Fitzgerald, Anchorage, for Appellees.

Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Bolger, Justices.

OPINION

Page 1075

MAASSEN, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

This case arises from a dispute over whether the owner of a wood chipper may be held jointly and severally liable, along with two property owners, for damages caused to their property by the chipper's leak of diesel fuel. The chipper's owner had leased it to another person, who abandoned it. The property owners claim they were only severally liable, if at all, for a portion of the damages and that the chipper's owner was liable for the rest. A jury found that the chipper did not contaminate one of the two properties, but as for the other the jury found its owner jointly and severally liable, along with the chipper's owner. The superior court then equitably allocated damages among the liable property owner, the owner of the chipper, and the chipper's lessee. This allocation left the property owner liable for most of his own loss.

Both property owners appeal the superior court's decision to equitably allocate damages.[1] They also appeal an evidentiary ruling

Page 1076

and the award of attorney's fees. We affirm, holding that the superior court properly construed the governing statutes and the evidence rules and that its award of attorney's fees was not an abuse of discretion.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Ryan Friesen and Oakly Enterprises, LLC, own properties across the road from each other in Wasilla. Oakly Enterprises is a family-owned corporation, owned half by ...


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