Tolar v. Amax Coal Co

In Tolar v. Amax Coal Co., 862 P.2d 144 (Wyo. 1993), the owners of a convenience store sued a mine developer following the forced evacuation of their convenience store, which was allegedly caused by the mine's release of poisonous methane and hydrogen sulphide gases into the atmosphere. Tolar, 862 P.2d at 145. The Tolars argued the evacuation caused their business to fail, and they sought consequential economic damages for this failure. The mine developer argued the business failed because of the economy. Id. The district court granted summary judgment to the mine developer finding the convenience store's failure was a result of a downturn in the economy, not the forced evacuation. Id. at 144. The Court reversed. The Court held that the cause of the convenience store's failure was hotly disputed, and as such, the case was not appropriate for summary judgment. Instead, the cause of the damages must be resolved by the fact finder, unless reasonable persons could not disagree. Id. at 146. Indeed, Tolar simply stands for the proposition that the general rule in Wyoming is that the proximate cause of harm is a question for the trier of fact.