Articles Posted in Utah Supreme Court

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In this subrogation action filed by Educators Mutual Insurance Association (EMIA) against a tortfeasor in a personal injury case, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ dismissal for lack of standing. The court of appeals ruled that an insurer may file suit for subrogation only in the name of its insured, and not in its own name. The Supreme Court upheld EMIA’s standing to sue for subrogation in its own name under the terms of the insurance policy where the terms of the insurance policy at issue in this case expressly recognized EMIA’s authority “to pursue its own right of subrogation against a third party” without regard to whether the insured “is made whole by any recovery.” View "Wilson v. Educators Mutual Insurance Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ putative class action lawsuit in which they alleged that Salt Lake City unjustly enriched itself by fining them for failing to use a parking meter at a time when there were no longer any parking meters in the City - only pay stations - but the City had not yet prohibited parking without paying at a pay station. Plaintiffs also alleged that the City’s notices violated due process. The district court granted the City’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the City’s notices were sufficient to apprise Plaintiffs of both their right to challenge their parking tickets and their opportunity for a hearing on that challenge; and (2) because Plaintiffs did not exhaust their legal remedies before seeking to challenge their tickets through an equitable action Plaintiffs failed to state an equitable enrichment claim. View "Bivens v. Salt Lake City" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Homebuyer's construction defect claims against the Contractor that built his home on the ground that Homebuyer was not in privity with Contractor and had no right to sue as an assignee. Property Owner entered into an agreement with Contractor to build a house on the property and then assigned its rights to the home and the construction agreement to Company. Company then sold the home to Homebuyer but did not assign its interest in the construction agreement to Homebuyer. After discovering several purported construction defects, Homebuyer sued Contractor for breach of the construction agreement and breach of warranty. Homeowner was subsequently assigned Company’s interest in claims Company may assert against Contractor. The district court granted summary judgment to Contractor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Homebuyer had no right to sue under Utah Code 78B-4-513 because he did not acquire a right to sue for breach of contract or warranty as an assignee - either at the time he purchased the home or at the time of the assignment. View "Tomlinson v. Douglas Knight Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2003, a corporation was assigned a lease that permitted a restaurant to operate. Xiao-Yan Cao, the corporation’s president, personally guaranteed the corporation’s performance. In 2006, the lease was assigned to Hong Lin. As part of the assignment, the lease term was extended until 2013. Both Cao and Lin signed the lease extension as guarantors. In 2010, Lin stopped making timely rent payments. Lin and the property’s landlord agreed to a repayment schedule to permit Lin to catch up. In 2013, Lin defaulted on rent payments. The landlord sued both Lin and Cao for a sum representing the last month’s rent and a balance from the month prior. The district court concluded that the 2010 repayment materially modified the contract and discharged Cao’s guaranty. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that extending the period within which a tenant could pay its rent did not materially modify the contract. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals correctly determined that the 2010 repayment agreement did not materially modify the contract and that Cao was not relieved of her responsibilities as guarantor. View "PC Riverview, LLC v. Cao" on Justia Law

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The weekend before Defendant’s trial, Defendant and the State entered into a plea agreement. Before Defendant entered his plea, however, the State rescinded its offer because Defendant’s alleged victim disapproved of the agreement. At Defendant’s request, the court granted a continuance and rescheduled the jury trial. Defendant subsequently filed a motion to enforce the plea agreement, asserting that he had detrimentally relied on the State’s offer. The district court rejected the motion, and Defendant sought interlocutory review. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order denying enforcement of the plea agreement, holding (1) the State may withdraw from a plea bargain agreement at any time prior to the actual entry of a defendant’s guilty plea or other action by a defendant constituting detrimental reliance on the agreement; and (2) Defendant did not perform under the terms of the plea agreement before the State rescinded its offer and failed to show that he detrimentally relied on the State’s offer. View "State v. Francis" 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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At issue in this appeal was the scope of the “covered profession” clause of a professional liability errors and omissions insurance policy issued to Utah County Real Estate, LLC (Prudential) by Houston Casualty Company. While working as a real estate agent for Prudential, Robert Seegmiller engaged in a professional relationship with the plaintiffs in this action (collectively, Investors) on a real estate deal that went sour. The Investors obtained a judgment against Seegmiller for negligence. Rather than execute the judgment against Seegmiller, the Investors settled with him, acquiring any claims he might have against Prudential’s insurer, Houston Casualty. The Investors then brought this action alleging that Houston Casualty breached the policy by failing to defend and indemnify Seegmiller. The district court granted summary judgment for Houston Casualty. The Supreme Court affirmed on the ground that Seegmiller’s conduct in the transaction was not covered by the policy because he was not providing services “for a fee” in the transaction. View "Compton v. Houston Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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Natalie Heslop overdosed on prescription drugs. The next day, Natalie rolled her truck down an embankment. Natalie informed the responding police officer, medical personnel, her family, and an insurance adjuster that the accident had been a suicide attempt. Natalie’s insurance policy provided that it would exclude coverage to any injured person “if the person’s conduct contributed to his injury…by intentionally causing injury to himself.” Natalie and her husband, Brandon Heslop, attempted to collect from Bear River Mutual Insurance Company under both a personal injury protection claim for Natalie’s personal injuries and a property damage claim for damage to the truck. Bear River denied the claims based on Natalie's admission that she intended to drive down the embankment. The Heslops subsequently filed a complaint against Bear River. The district court granted summary judgment to Bear River as to both the personal injury claim and the property damage claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the Heslops’ claims. View "Heslop v. Bear River Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was (1) how Utah Code 30-3-5(1)(e) should be interpreted in correlation with Utah Code 75-2-804, and (2) the proper interpretation of “express terms” in section 75-2-804(2). Tyler Hertzske and Linda Snyder each claimed sole entitlement to the death benefits of a life insurance policy held by Edward Hertzske, deceased. The district court granted summary judgment to Tyler, concluding that Tyler was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In so holding, the judge concluded (1) where section 30-3-5(1)(e) was not considered or included in the divorce proceedings, it did not apply, and (2) the Policy did not contain “express terms” that would except it from revocation under section 75-2-804(2). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 75-2-804(2) creates a rebuttable presumption that a beneficiary designation in a life insurance policy is revoked upon divorce; (2) section 30-3-5(1)(e) does not apply in this instance, and, rather, section 75-2-804 governs; (3) a life insurance policy must contain “express terms” referring to divorce in order for the beneficiary designation of a former spouse to survive revocation by section 75-2-804(2); and (4) the Policy did not contain “express terms” that would except it from revocation under section 75-2-804(2). View "Snyder v. Hertzske" on Justia Law

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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