Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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This opinion followed the Supreme Court’s August 30, 2017 summary order denying Petitioners’ petition for extraordinary relief filed pursuant to Utah Code 20A-7-508(6)(a) pertaining to certain aspects of a final ballot title. Petitioners were among a group of sponsors who obtained sufficient signatures to have an initiative placed on the November 2017 ballot for the Pleasant Grove City municipal election. The City attorney prepared the final ballot title, which led to this petition being filed. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that Petitioners failed to satisfy their burden under Utah R. App. P. 19 of demonstrating that they possessed no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy other than the filing of a petition directly with the Supreme Court. View "Zonts v. Pleasant Grove City" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed as moot the appeal of International Confections Company seeking to set aside a district court order approving a receivership sale of its assets to a third party. After the third party entered into a binding purchase agreement and acquired the assets at issue, International Confections filed a motion for relief from judgment under Utah R. Civ. P. 60. The district court denied the motion. International Confections appealed, asking the Supreme Court to reverse the district court’s denial of its Rule 60 motion on three grounds. The Supreme Court dismissed the case as moot without addressing the merits of International Confections’ arguments, holding that because International Confections failed to protect its interests by seeking a stay of the district court’s sale order, this court was without power to grant any relief, thus mooting the case on appeal. View "Transportation Alliance Bank v. International Confections Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the district court’s order awarding a portion of settlement funds as fees to Clyde Snow & Sessions, P.C. in a wrongful death action. The wrongful death action settled after six years of litigation. Prior to dismissal or final judgment, Clyde Snow asserted a lien against a portion of the settlement funds based on its claim for attorney fees. The district court upheld the viability of that claim. Thomas Boyle, who was affiliated with Clyde Snow and represented the plaintiff in the wrongful death action, objected, citing procedural deficiencies in Clyde Snow’s intervention. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Boyle waived any objection to the defects in Clyde Snow’s intervention. View "Boyle v. Clyde Snow & Sessions, P.C." on Justia Law

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In August 2007, Lisa Penunuri was injured when she fell off her horse during a guided horseback trail ride at Sundance Resort. She and her husband sued for negligence and gross negligence against Rocky Mountain Outfitters, L.C. (the company that provided the trail guide services) as well as various defendants associated with the resort (collectively, Sundance). In 2013, the Utah Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Ms. Penunuri’s ordinary negligence claims, leaving only her claims for gross negligence. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Sundance on the gross negligence claims and awarded Sundance its costs, including certain deposition costs. Penunuri appealed, and the appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari on three questions: (1) whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that summary judgment may be granted on a gross negligence claim even though the standard of care is not "fixed by law;" (2) whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the district court’s conclusion that reasonable minds could only conclude there was no gross negligence under the circumstances of this case; and (3) whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the district court’s award of deposition costs to Sundance. Finding no reversible error on any of those claims, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals on each issue. View "Penunuri v. Sundance Partners" on Justia Law

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A credit card error that caused Carole and James Marziale’s complaint against Spanish Fork City to be rejected did not affect the timeliness of the Marziales’ filing. The Marziales submitted a personal injury complaint with an undertaking in the Provo division of the Fourth Judicial District against the City. The status history showed that a clerk manually rejected the filing due to a credit card error. After the statute of limitation for their claim expired, the Marziales’ learned that their filings had been rejected. They refiled the complaint and undertaking in the Provo division, and it was accepted with proper payment. The City filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction over the action because the filing date was outside of the statute of limitations. The court granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Marziales’ credit card payment error did not affect the validity of the filing of their complaint or undertaking under Utah R. Civ. P. 3, and therefore, the Marziales’ filings were timely filed. View "Marziale v. Spanish Fork City" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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