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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

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In this criminal case, the Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in accumulating errors that, standing alone, had no potential to cause harm, and thus reversed the court of appeals’ determination of cumulative error and remanded the case for the court of appeals to make a meritorious determination on Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was convicted of two drug-related counts. After Defendant was convicted, the trial court stated that it was considering granting a new trial because of defense counsel’s ineffectiveness and appointed separate conflict counsel to represent Defendant on the issues it raised. The trial court declined to grant a new trial. Defendant appealed, asserting that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance during the jury selection and motion stages and that the trial court erred in its dealings with conflict counsel. The court of appeals concluded that none of Defendant’s three claims of error warranted reversal on its own but that the cumulative effect of the errors warranted a new trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the errors could not cumulate into reversible error; and (2) because the trial court did not determine whether the motion to suppress was meritorious, the case must be remanded to the court of appeals to make this determination. View "State v. Martinez-Castellanos" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this case involving a dispute over whether an easement by prescription existed to use a circular driveway touching adjacent cabins, the Supreme Court held that it improvidently granted certiorari. The trial court granted the Judd family a prescriptive easement for both access and parking purposes. The court of appeals affirmed the easement for access, while limiting its scope, and reversed the easement for parking. The Supreme Court exercised its certiorari authority to determine questions over the correct standards for establishing prescriptive rights but then concluded that this case was not suitable for certiorari review under Utah R. App. P. 46. View "Judd v. Bowen" on Justia Law

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In this case asserting various claims against a number of defendants, the Supreme Court dismissed this appeal, holding that the district court’s order was not a final judgment because the court failed to dispose of Plaintiffs’ civil conspiracy claim against two defendants. In their complaint, Plaintiffs asserted twenty-five causes of action against multiple defendants. The district court granted partial summary judgment and summary judgment in favor of some defendants on several causes of action and granted default judgment against two defendants on some claims. After post-trial proceedings, the district court issued its amended final order of judgment. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the case for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that the record indicated that the district court’s final order did not dispose of all claims brought by Plaintiffs against two defendants, and therefore, the final judgment rule was not met. View "Wittingham, LLC v. TNE Limited Partnership" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court reversed the state district court’s dismissal of Appellant’s petition asking the court to force the Utah Highway Patrol and Utah Department of Public Safety (collectively, UHP) to return his money held for forfeiture, holding that the court had in rem jurisdiction over Appellant’s funds under the Forfeiture and Disposition of Property Act (Act). The UHP seized Appellant’s funds in the amount of $500,000 under the Act. The money sat in a UHP bank account for seventy-five days, and no Utah state district court filed forfeiture proceedings. Meanwhile, a federal magistrate issued a seizure warrant for the money on behalf of the DEA. While UHP sent a check for the cash amount, the DEA never cashed the check. Appellant filed a petition in state district court requesting a return of his funds because the prosecuting attorneys failed to take action under Utah Code 24-4-104(1)(a) to avert a law enforcement duty to “return [the] seized property.” The UHP ultimately dismissed the petition, concluding that it lacked in rem jurisdiction of the seized funds based on principles of comity. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the district court had in rem jurisdiction over the property because it was the first to properly exercise in rem jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court. View "Savely v. Utah Highway Patrol" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that the Utah R. Civ. P. 54(b) certifications were flawed. The Court then clarified the steps parties and district courts must take to ensure proper certification under Rule 54(b) in order to avoid unnecessary remands. Acting pursuant to Rule 54(b), the district court sought to certify as final and appealable several orders related to the disposition of mechanic’s liens. Plaintiff appealed those orders. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal in its entirety, holding that the 54(b) certification orders at issue were deficient for four reasons outlined in this opinion. View "Copper Hills Custom Homes, LLC v. Countrywide Bank, FSB" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion to amend his counterclaim and to join a party, holding that it lacked appellate jurisdiction because the district court’s order did not offer sufficient findings and conclusions to understand the court’s reasoning and because the district court did not enter findings supporting the conclusion that the certified order was final. The parties presented this case as an appeal from a final order pursuant to Utah R. Civ. P. 54(b), but the district court’s rule 54(b) certification did not make the requisite express determination that there was no just reason for delay. Further, the district court failed to offer the necessary rational under Utah R. Civ. P. 52(a), which functioned as a practical bar to the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction. Therefore, the district court did not enter any final order in this case, and no exception to the final judgment rule existed conferring appellate jurisdiction on the Supreme Court. View "First National Bank of Layton v. Palmer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure