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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court finding that the language of Utah Code 59-7-113 was ambiguous and that section 113 did not permit the income allocation that the Utah State Tax Commission had imposed upon See’s Candies, holding that the district court properly employed the arm’s length transaction standard to determine that the Commission improperly allocated See’s income. The Commission in this case allocated certain royalty payments See’s had deducted from its taxable income back to See’s as taxable income. The district court decided that the allocation was inappropriate and allowed See’s to take the deductions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the language of section 113 is ambiguous; (2) the district court properly looked to the statute’s federal counterpart and its accompanying regulations for guidance; and (3) the district court correctly determined that the Commission improperly allocated See’s income. View "Utah State Tax Commission v. See’s Candies, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that, as used in the National Bank Act, Congress’s use of the word “located” is ambiguous, and therefore, Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. National Resource Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), requires that the Court defer to the “not unreasonable” interpretation the Comptroller of the Currency has provided. After Loraine Sundquist's property was sold, the Federal National Mortgage Association brought this action seeking an order forcing Sundquist from her home. The district court entered an eviction order. On interlocutory review, Sundquist asserted that the sale was invalid because Utah law does not permit a bank to act as a trustee on a trust deed. The primary inquiry became whether corporations were permitted to serve as trustees of trust deeds under the laws of the State in which ReconTrust Co., the trustee on the deed of trust, was located. The Supreme Court concluded that the statutory language was unambiguous and that a federally chartered “bank” that seeks to foreclose on real property in Utah must comply with Utah law. On appeal, the Supreme Court overturned its previous decision, holding that the Comptroller’s interpretation of the relevant statute required deference. The Court remanded the case for an evaluation of where ReconTrust is located under the correct standard. View "Bank of America v. Sundquist" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal from several orders related to the disposition of mechanic’s liens, holding that the Court lacked appellate jurisdiction because the Utah R. Civ. P. 54(b) certifications were flawed. Acting pursuant to Rule 54(b), the district court sought to certify as final and appealable the orders at issue. Plaintiff appealed those orders to the Supreme Court. The Court, however, found that the Rule 54(b) certifications were flawed and therefore dismissed the appeal, taking the opportunity of this case to readdress and refine the steps that parties and district courts must take to ensure proper certification under Rule 54(b) in order to avoid unnecessary remands. View "Copper Hills Custom Homes, LLC v. Countrywide Bank, FSB" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from a contest over the state water engineer’s resolution of who owned the water rights to Minnie Maud Creek, holding that the Court lacked jurisdiction because the district court’s certification of its summary judgment ruling as final under Utah R. Civ. P. 54(b) was improper. The district court granted summary judgment upholding the state engineer’s proposed determination that The Minnie Maud Reservoir and Irrigation Company was the owner of the disputed water rights. EnerVest and Hammerschmid Trust appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) the Court did not have a final judgment before it for review; and (2) EnerVest lacked appellate standing because it was not aggrieved by the district court’s decision and so lacked appellate stand, and therefore, the Court declined to exercise its discretion to treat this appeal as a petition for interlocutory appeal. View "EnerVest v. Utah State Engineer" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) condemned an access point from Bangerter Highway to the West Point Shopping Center. At the time of the condemnation, the shopping center was owned by FPA West Point, LLC. FPA leased buildings in the shopping center to a number of businesses, including K MART Corporation (Kmart). Both FPA and Kmart entered the condemnation proceedings, asserting rights to just compensation. The first appeal (Utah Department of Transportation v. FPA West Point, LLC) addressed valuation methods in the context of a condemnation award determination. In that case, the Utah Supreme Court held that courts must use the aggregate-of-interests approach (which determines the value of properties with divided ownership interests by assessing the value of each property interest separately) in deciding the amount of a condemnation award. In this appeal the issue presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on whether the district court erred by granting a condemnation award to Kmart, a lessee, even though Kmart’s lease contained a clause terminating its leasehold interest in the event of a condemnation. The Court held that it did: because the termination clause extinguished all of Kmart’s compensable property interests, Kmart was not entitled to compensation. Accordingly, the district court’s grant of a condemnation award to Kmart was reversed. View "UDOT v. Kmart Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s interpretation of Utah’s Hospital Lien Statute, Utah Code 38-7-1, holding that the court correctly concluded that the Hospital Lien Statute does not require a hospital to pay its proportional share of an injured person’s attorney fees and costs when a hospital lien is paid due to the efforts of the injured person or that person’s attorney. Plaintiffs in this proposed class action were all involved in car accidents, received medical care at the healthcare institutions named as defendants in this suit, and filed personal injury claims against the third parties at fault. All had hospital liens placed on any potential recovery from these claims, and all reached settlement agreements. Plaintiffs argued that Defendants failed to pay their fair share of the attorney fees Plaintiffs incurred in generating the settlement proceeds. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain language of the Hospital Lien Statute creates a priority for the distribution of the proceeds in third-party liability cases and that Plaintiffs’ proportional sharing arguments were unavailing. View "Bryner v. Cardon Outreach" on Justia Law

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In this complaint alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of fiduciary duty against Van Wagoner & Bradshaw, LLC, an accounting firm, and Coldwell Banker Commercial, the Supreme Court largely affirmed as to the issues raised in cross-petitions for certiorari but reversed and remanded as to the issue as to whether Plaintiff was entitled to a jury instruction on nondisclosure fraud. Reperex, Inc. brought this action after a business it purchased in a deal brokered by Coldwell failed. All of the claims against Coldwell were dismissed before trial. Two of the claims against Bradshaw were dismissed before trial, and the remaining fraud claim went to trial, where Bradshaw prevailed. The court of appeals affirmed as to Bradshaw but reversed as to Coldwell. Coldwell and Reperex filed cross-petitions for certiorari. The Supreme Court held (1) Coldwell could not be held liable despite a nonreliance clause in Coldwell’s contract with Reperex; (2) expert testimony was not required to sustain Reperex’s breach of fiduciary duty claim; (3) Reperex failed to establish a basis for overcoming protections available to Bradshaw under Utah Coe 58-26a-602; but (4) as to the lack of a jury instruction on nondisclosure fraud, the case must be remanded for a determination of whether Bradshaw owed Reperex a duty of disclosure under the common law. View "Reperex, Inc. v. Coldwell Banker Commercial" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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At issue was three questions certified to the Supreme Court by the federal district court relating to the interpretation of the Governmental Immunity Act of Utah (Immunity Act), Utah Code 63G-7-101 to -904. The Supreme Court provided the applicable legal standard for determining what is an instrumentality of the state, exercised its discretion to decline to establish a legal standard for public corporation immunity, and declined to answer the second and third certified questions because those questions were relevant only if one of the entities involved was an instrumentality of the state or a public corporation and that decision must be made by the district court, thereby necessitating answers to those questions. View "GeoMetWatch Corp. v. Utah State University Research Foundation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of child abuse homicide, holding that Defendant’s challenges to expert testimony provided in his case would not receive consideration and that the district court properly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. The Court, however, took the opportunity provided in this case to rebuke sole reliance on the factors set forth in Salt Lake City v. Carter, 664 P.2d 1168 (Utah 1983) for the determination of whether an individual is in custody for purposes of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) and clarified the role these factors play going forward in order to bring courts in lockstep with the United States Supreme Court as to this determination. View "State v. Fullerton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court’s denial of Petitioner’s petition to vacate or reduce the alimony award to his former spouse under Utah Code 30-3-5(8)(i)(i), holding that the court of appeals properly determined that Petitioner failed to carry his burden of establishing that the change of circumstances he alleged was foreseeable at the time of his divorce. In denying Petitioner’s petition, the district court applied a standard set forth in Bolliger v. Bolliger, 997 P.2d 903 (Utah Ct. App. 2000) and other cases. The court of appeals affirmed but under a different standard. The Supreme Court affirmed while clarifying the standard that applies under section 30-3-5(8)(i)(i), holding (1) the question is whether an alleged substantial change was “foreseeable” at the time of the divorce, not whether it was “contemplated” in the divorce decree, which is the standard set forth in Bolliger and other cases; and (2) Petitioner failed to carry his burden of establishing, on the basis of the record before the court that entered the divorce decree, that the change he alleged was not foreseeable. View "MacDonald v. MacDonald" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law