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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim on the grounds that the Utah Medical Malpractice Act’s two-year statute of limitations barred Plaintiff’s claim. Specifically, the Court held (1) a jury could permissibly find for Defendant based on the evidence before it; (2) the trial court’s decision not to grant summary judgment was not reviewable; (3) the trial court’s evidentiary decisions were not in error; (4) a directed verdict was not warranted where sufficient evidence was offered to sustain the jury verdict in favor of Defendant; and (5) the jury instructions in this case were not misleading. View "Arnold v. Grigsby" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that Plaintiffs' claims were either moot or failed to state a claim as a matter of law. The hospital at which an injured child received medical care sought to secure payment for that care by asserting liens against the child’s interest in the tort claim against the driver of the car that struck the child. The child and his mother brought claims against the hospital owner and its payments vendor, arguing that the liens violated Medicaid law. When the liens were released, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed on the principles of mootness and Plaintiffs’ failure to state a claim as a matter of law. View "Shaffer v. IHC Health Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The court of appeals has the same authority to overturn its own precedent as does the Supreme Court and did not err in this case in concluding that collateral legal consequences will not be presumed when an appeal from a probation revocation has otherwise become moot. While Defendant’s appeal of the revocation of his probation was in process, Defendant completed the sentence required by the revocation and was released. Although two of its prior decisions had contradictory holdings, the court of appeals dismissed Defendant’s case as moot because of his release. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals acted appropriately in overturning its prior precedent in this case; and (2) although collateral legal consequences are presumed to avoid mootness in appeals of criminal convictions, they are not presumed for appeals of probation revocations, and therefore, any defendant wishing to continue a moot appeal of a probation revocation must establish collateral legal consequences. View "State v. Legg" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The court of appeals has the same authority to overturn its own precedent as does the Supreme Court and did not err in this case in concluding that collateral legal consequences will not be presumed when an appeal from a probation revocation has otherwise become moot. While Defendant’s appeal of the revocation of his probation was in process, Defendant completed the sentence required by the revocation and was released. Although two of its prior decisions had contradictory holdings, the court of appeals dismissed Defendant’s case as moot because of his release. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals acted appropriately in overturning its prior precedent in this case; and (2) although collateral legal consequences are presumed to avoid mootness in appeals of criminal convictions, they are not presumed for appeals of probation revocations, and therefore, any defendant wishing to continue a moot appeal of a probation revocation must establish collateral legal consequences. View "State v. Legg" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, holding that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during a Terry stop. Specifically, the Court held (1) when law enforcement officers stopped Defendant’s vehicle, they had reasonable suspicion to investigate two traffic violations and possible drug possession; (2) when the officers approached the vehicle they gained reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence; and (3) under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the officers were entitled to detain Defendant for a reasonable time while they investigated these offenses. View "State v. Binks" on Justia Law

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Here, the Supreme Court clarified the standard the Crime Victims Restitution Act (CVRA) requires the district court to employ to determine whether a defendant caused the loss for which a victim seeks restitution. Defendant in this case sexually abused Victim several times and pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Victim intervened in Defendant’s restitution hearing to seek restitution for the anticipated cost of mental health treatment for the remainder of her life. The district court entered orders for complete and court-ordered restitution. On appeal, Defendant argued that Victim’s damages were caused, in part, by her subsequent sexual abuse by another person and that the court based its complete restitution award upon speculation about expenses Victim would incur in the future. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding that the CVRA requires that a district court include the losses that a defendant proximately causes in its complete restitution determination. Remanded with directions that the district court ensure that it rests its restitution calculation on non-speculative evidence of losses that Victim has incurred or will likely incur. View "State v. Ogden" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The court of appeals did not err in concluding that the denial of Robert Oltmanns’ insurance claim by his insurer, Fire Insurance Exchange, was “fairly debatable,” thus negating Oltmanns’ demand for attorney fees and expenses for a coverage dispute and appeal. When Oltmanns was named as a defendant in a personal injury case he filed a claim with Fire Insurance. Fire Insurance brought a declaratory judgment action to determine whether the claim was covered under Oltmanns’ policy. The court of appeals ruled that the claim was covered. Oltmanns, in turn, filed a counterclaim seeking attorney fees for the declaratory judgment action on the grounds that it was brought in bad faith. The district court granted summary judgment for Fire Insurance, finding that the insurer’s actions were reasonable because the coverage issue was “fairly debatable.” The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the coverage question was, indeed, fairly debatable. View "Fire Insurance Exchange v. Oltmanns" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Supreme Court took the opportunity of this case to follow the overwhelming majority of courts, holding that claims under section 1692e of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692-1692p, are subject to a strict liability standard. The Supreme Court here abrogated a Utah Court of Appeals decision, Midland Funding LLC v. Sotolongo, 325 P.3d 871 (Utah Ct. App. 2014), holding that the court of appeals misstated the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ standard for section 1692e claims and that the standard set forth in Midland Funding clearly contradicts the language of the FDCPA. Further, a strict liability interpretation of section 1692e is consistent with section 1692k(c) of the FDCPA. The Supreme Court thus reversed the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s section 1692e claims based solely on Midland Funding and remanded the case for further proceedings in light of this opinion. View "Gonzalez v. Cullimore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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The Supreme Court clarified the operated summary judgment standard under Utah R. Civ. P. 56 and affirmed the grant of summary judgment in this case under this standard. In this appeal from the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims for defamation and interference with economic relations on summary judgment, the Supreme Court held that the Utah summary judgment standard is in line with the federal standard as set forth in Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). As in Celotex, the moving party laws bears the burden of establishing the lack of a genuine issue of material fact, but the burden of production of evidence may fall on the nonmoving party. In the instant case, Defendants were entitled to summary judgment under the Utah Governmental Immunity Act, Utah Code 63G-7-101 through 63G-7-904, where Defendants acted within the scope of their employment and there was no evidence that their actions were willful. Further, the district court acted within its discretion in refusing to strike an affidavit submitted by one of the defendants in support of the motion for summary judgment filed by the remaining defendants. View "Salo v. Tyler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of criminal homicide murder for killing Shannon Lopez. Defendant’s defense at trial was that Shannon shot herself. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in (1) admitting expert testimony that assessed Shannon’s risk of suicide, and (2) admitting evidence that Defendant had previously pointed a gun at Shannon’s had and had leveled a gun at an ex-wife and threatened to kill her. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the State did not lay a sufficient foundation to demonstrate that the theory its expert employed could be reliably used to assess the suicide risk of someone who had died; (2) the district court erred by admitting the evidence of Defendant’s prior actions; and (3) the errors were harmful. View "State v. Lopez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law