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Big-money case will go to trial

By The Mercury

TOPEKA – The Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled, with a 31-page opinion, on a big-money family squabble in Pottawatomie County.

The court reversed a summary judgment against Ellen Byers Bouton, and said she is entitled to proceed in her battle for relief in a million-dollar dispute with her father, Walter Byers.

Bouton is attempting to recoup losses in a ranch and cattle business, claiming she gave up a tenure-track position as a law professor at Washburn University on the basis of a promise from her father concerning her stake in the family business.

Bouton left Washburn in spring of 2005, but three years later, after a water system froze on the ranch, her father said her services no longer were needed.

After Bouton returned to Washburn in a part-time position, Byers contracted to sell the ranch. Bouton is suing for the money she would have earned if she’d stayed in the full-time position at the university.

The Court of Appeals agreed that a fact-finder could conclude Bouton reasonably relied on Byers’ 2005 promise.

With the facts and credibility determinations in dispute, the court decided to reverse and require a trial.

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