Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

by
In a number of cases pending before several district courts concerning ownership of certain rights of way claimed by the State of Utah and several of its counties, the federal courts asked the Utah Supreme Court to determine whether Utah Code 78B-2-201(1) and its predecessor are statutes of limitations or statues of repose. The Supreme Court held that the plain language of both versions of the statute reveals them to be statutes of repose. However, because of the absurdity that results from applying section 201 and its predecessor as statutes of repose in the context of the State’s Revised Statute 2477 rights of way, leading to the result that the State lost title to any such rights of way after seven years without any opportunity to prevent such loss, the court construed these statutes as statutes of limitations when applied to the State’s Revised Statute 2477 right of way claims. View "Garfield County v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance" on Justia Law

by
Dos Lagos, LLC and Mellon Valley, LLC defaulted on a loan in which Utah First Federal Credit Union owned a fifty-two percent interest and RADC/CADC Venture, LLC (RADC) owned a forty-eight percent interest. Utah First filed a deficiency action against Dog Lagos, Mellon Valley, and several guarantors (collectively, Dos Lagos). After the statute of limitations had expired, Utah First filed an emended complaint adding RADC as a party plaintiff. The district court awarded RADC the full amount of the loan, concluding that the amended complaint related back to the date of the original complaint under Utah R. Civ. P. 15(c). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals did not err when it found that RADC’s claim was not time barred and awarded RADC the full deficiency amount. View "2010-1 RADC/CADC Venture, LLC v. Dos Lagos, LLC" on Justia Law

by
In 1997, Paul Haik argued before the federal district court that Salt Lake City and Alta’s refusal to extend adequate municipal water services to his undeveloped land in the Albion Basin Subdivision was a violation of equal protection and amounted to an unconstitutional taking. The federal court ruled against Haik. In 2012, Haik filed another federal lawsuit alleging different legal claims but, for the most part, the same facts. In the lawsuit, Haik again sought a determination that Salt Lake City was required to supply him with enough water to develop his property in Albion Basin. The federal court again ruled against Haik. Thereafter, Salt Lake City sued Haik in state court seeking, inter alia, to adjudicate Haik’s and others’ interests in water rights in Little Cottonwood Creek. Haik counterclaimed, adducing exactly the same facts as he put before the federal district court in 2012. The district court dismissed the counterclaims on the grounds that they were barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Although Haik did not raise each and every claim in the federal court that he sought to raise here, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, on the operative facts before the Court, it was impossible for Haik to overcome the hurdle of claim preclusion. View "Salt Lake City Corp. v. Haik" on Justia Law

by
Twelve years ago, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Defendants. The district court eventually dismissed the case for failure to prosecute but did not indicate whether the case was dismissed without prejudice or pursuant to Utah R. Civ. P. 41(b). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a new action asserting the same claims against the same defendants. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the dismissal operated as a dismissal with prejudice under Rule 41(b). The district court denied the motion to dismiss, finding that the decision in Panos v. Smith’s Food & Drug Centers, Inc. was controlling. In Panos, the court of appeals held that when a judge dismisses a case for failure to prosecute but fails to explicitly provide that the case is dismissed with prejudice or pursuant to Rule 41(b), the presumption is that the case is dismissed without prejudice. The Supreme Court overruled Panos and held (1) the plain text of Rule 41(b) is clear that the presumption of prejudice applies broadly in most cases; (2) in this case, in the absence of a showing that he relied on Panos, Plaintiff was not entitled to a prospective-application of the ruling; and (3) this case should have been dismissed with prejudice. View "Cannon v. Holmes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

by
In 2005, Connor Libby and Elena Chapa (collectively, Defendants) signed credit card agreements with Federated Capital Corporation’s predecessor-in-interest, a Utah corporation with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania. The agreements contained a forum selection clause and choice of law provision that adopted Utah substantive and procedural law to govern any dispute under the contract. The agreements required Defendants to make monthly payments to the address specific on their billings statements, and each billing statement required Defendants to send their payments to an address in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Defendants defaulted in 2006. In 2012, Federated filed separate claims in separate proceedings against Defendants. In each proceeding, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, ruling that Utah’s borrowing statute required the court to apply Pennsylvania’s four-year statute of limitations, thereby barring Federated’s claims. Federated appealed, arguing that the agreement’s forum selection clause precluded the application of Utah’s borrowing statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the borrowing statute applied to and barred Federated’s causes of action. View "Federated Capital Corp. v. Libby" on Justia Law

by
Attorney Donald Gilbert represented the Utah Down Syndrome Association and several of its founders in litigation between the Association and the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation, Inc. Gilbert filed this petition for extraordinary relief challenging (1) a 2008 district court judgment ordering Gilbert to disgorge $30,000 taken from Foundation bank accounts to pay his attorney fees, (2) an injunction that originally barred Gilbert’s clients from paying him with Foundation funds, (3) an order denying Gilbert’s motion to vacate the 2008 judgment, and (4) an order denying Gilbert’s motion for relief from the 2008 judgment. The Supreme Court denied Gilbert’s petition for extraordinary relief, holding (1) Gilbert unreasonably delayed seeking extraordinary relief from the injunction, the disgorgement order, and the denial of his motion to vacate; and (2) Gilbert failed to pursue the plain, speedy, and adequate remedy of direct appeal from the denial of his motion for relief from judgment. View "Gilbert v. Third Dist. Court Judges" on Justia Law

by
In this, the second appeal arising out of a lawsuit against Westgate Resorts alleging violations of the Utah Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act, Westgate challenged an arbitration panel’s award of attorney fees to Shawn Adel and Consumer Protection Group, LLC (collectively, CPG). In the first appeal, the Supreme Court confirmed the panel’s award of damages against Westgate. Here, Westgate argued, inter alia, that the arbitration panel had no authority to award attorney fees for the court proceedings that confirmed the panel’s decision on the merits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the panel’s award of fees for court proceedings confirming the panel’s own decisions is void because the Utah Uniform Arbitration Act does not authorize attorney fees for such proceedings; (2) the Utah Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act allows the panel’s award of attorney fees expended during arbitration; and (3) CPG is entitled to attorney fees for this appeal. View "Westgate Resorts, Ltd. v. Adel" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against defendant in small claims court for physical injuries arising from an alleged automobile collision between the parties. Defendant subsequently filed a petition to appeal the district court's grant of plaintiff's motion to strike defendant's jury demand and discovery requests. The court concluded that the Utah Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial in small claims cases in a trial de novo in district court, and that defendant properly asserted that right. The court did not reach the merits of defendant's discovery arguments because they were not properly preserved. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Chilel v. Simler" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

by
Plaintiff ClearOne is a Utah corporation and Defendant Revolabs is a competitor incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in Massachusetts. The underlying dispute arose when Revolabs recruited and hired Timothy Mackie while he was still employed by ClearOne. ClearOne brought this suit in Utah district court, alleging intentional interference with a contractual relationship, predatory hiring, and aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty. Revolabs filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) ClearOne failed to allege that Revolabs had sufficient minimum contacts to subject it to specific personal jurisdiction in Utah; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying discovery to determine whether Revolabs was subject to general personal jurisdiction in Utah. View "ClearOne, Inc. v. Revolabs, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff was injured when forced to stop suddenly near a construction crew on a Utah road. Plaintiff submitted a notice of claim against the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). UDOT did not respond to the notice of claim within sixty days, and therefore, Plaintiff’s claim was deemed denied. One month later, UDOT sent a letter to Plaintiff stating that UDOT denied the claim. Plaintiff subsequently filed suit against UDOT and several unnamed “John Does.” UDOT moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Utah Governmental Immunity Act (GIA) barred Plaintiff’s claim because he did not file within one year of the date on which it was deemed denied. The trial court granted UDOT’s motion and dismissed Plaintiff’s entire suit with prejudice, including his claim against the Doe Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the denial letter sent after the deemed denial had occurred did not restart the limitations period and was a legal superfluity, and therefore, Plaintiff did not timely file his suit under the GIA; (2) estoppel was not warranted in this case; and (3) the dismissal of the Doe Defendants was proper where they were described as employees of UDOT. View "Monarrez v. Utah Dep’t of Transp." on Justia Law