Articles Posted in Utah Supreme Court

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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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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s denial of the motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by several property developers (Developers) alleging that the City of West Jordan violated statutory provisions that regulate how a municipality may spend impact fees collected from developers. The court held (1) Developers had standing to challenge the constitutionality of the impact fees they were assessed; (2) Developers failed to state a takings claim for which relief can be granted because Developers’ allegations that West Jordan either failed to spend impact fees within six years or spent the fees on impermissible expenditures were inadequate to support a constitutional takings claim; and (3) Developers did not have standing to bring a claim in equity. View "Alpine Homes, Inc. v. City of West Jordan" on Justia Law

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This case concerning a general contractor’s attempt to recover on a mechanic’s lien involved two phases. In the first phase, Jordan Construction, Inc. prevailed on its counterclaims against Scott Bell. In the second phase, Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) was brought into the action as a third-party defendant. FNMA subsequently succeeded in a series of motions before the district court. FNMA then stipulated to the payment of $126,956.92, the amount of the original mechanic’s lien. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in concluding that FNMA is not bound by the earlier judgment rendered against Bell under either the recording of the lis pendens or the doctrine of res judicata; (2) did not err in ruling that Jordan Construction’s amended notice of lien was untimely; (3) did not err in ruling that, under the 2008 Utah Code, Jordan Construction was not entitled to recover prejudgment interest on its mechanic’s lien claim; and (4) properly awarded FNMA attorney fees under the mechanic’s lien statute. View "Jordan Construction, Inc. v. Federal National Mortgage Ass’n" on Justia Law

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In July 2006, Appellee Staker & Parson Companies (Staker) worked as a contractor for the Utah Department of Transportation on an interstate construction project. Appellant Kent Turner sustained serious injuries in a car accident near the work site. He filed suit for negligence against Staker in July 2010, nearly four years after the accident. The district court granted Staker's motion to dismiss, holding that Turner's suit was time-barred under Utah Code 78B-2-225(3)(b)'s two-year statute of limitations. On appeal, Turner argued that his claim qualified for a four-year statute of limitations under Utah Code 78B-2-225(8). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Turner's complaint alleged sufficient facts to survive dismissal under section 78B-2-225(8). Remanded. View "Turner v. Staker" on Justia Law

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David and Kristine Anderson purchased an undeveloped lot of land from Country Living Development. After constructing a home on the lot, the Andersons' home developed structural problems resulting from excessive settling caused by unstable soil beneath their home's foundation. The Andersons filed suit against Matthew Kriser, an employee and shareholder of Country Living, for fraudulent nondisclosure. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Kriser. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals correctly concluded that a plaintiff must demonstrate that a defendant had actual knowledge of undisclosed information to satisfy the elements of a claim for fraudulent disclosure; (2) because the Andersons failed to set forth any evidence demonstrating that Kriser actually knew of the soil conditions below their home, summary judgment was proper; and (3) the court of appeals erred in relying on the Court's holding in Smith v. Frandsen to reach its conclusion that the law imposed no duty on Kriser to disclose information to the Andersons simply because he did not construct their home. View "Anderson v. Kriser" on Justia Law

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Ivory Homes purchased various concrete products from a company that, when it delivered the products, provided an invoice that charged a single sales price without indicating separate delivery charges. Ivory Homes then discovered if it structured its transactions with the company differently and bargained for separate and independent delivery charges, the charges would not be taxable. Subsequently, Ivory Homes filed a refund request with the Utah Taxpayer Services Division for sales tax it paid for several years on expenses associated with the concrete products. The Division denied the refund. The Utah State Tax Commission also denied the refund request. The Supreme Court affirmed the Tax Commission's decision that it did not erroneously receive any tax and that Ivory Homes was not entitled to a tax refund where (1) under a substantial evidence standard of review, the Commission correctly made findings of fact that the parties did not intend delivery charges in their original transactions; and (2) alternatively, a plain language interpretation of the Refund Statute requires that the Tax Commission commit some error in its receipt of taxes before a taxpayer is entitled to a refund. View "Ivory Homes, Ltd. v. Utah Tax Comm'n " on Justia Law

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The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) contracted with Meadow Valley Contractors (MVC) for a highway construction project. MVC subcontracted the paving work to Southwest Asphalt Paving. After UDOT refused to allow Southwest to use ribbon paving and assessed MVC a thickness-laying penalty, MVC filed a compliant against UDOT, alleging that (1) it incurred costs not contemplated by the contract as a result of UDOT's prohibition on ribbon paving, and (2) the thickness penalty assessed by UDOT was unwarranted. UDOT denied MVC claims. Southwest then filed a complaint in district court in MVC's name against UDOT alleging breach of contract. The trial court (1) concluded that UDOT breached its contract with MVC by refusing to allow ribbon paving on the construction project, and (2) denied MVC's claim that UDOT had erroneously imposed a paving-thickness penalty. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) UDOT did did not breach its contract with MVC when it forbade MVC and Southwest from using ribbon paving, and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court's conclusion that UDOT's interpretation of the contract regarding paving thickness was more reasonable than MVC's interpretation. View "Meadow Valley v. UDOT" on Justia Law

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Appellees Mark and Marilyn Hesse purchased an undeveloped subdivision of land owned by Canberra Development Company (CDC) in February 2004. Appellees constructed their home on the lot. After moving into their new home, Appellees noticed several structural problems including the presence of large cracks in the floor. Appellees later learned that these problems were caused by unstable soil beneath the foundation of their home. Subsequently, Appellees discovered that CDC had failed to inform them of soil analysis assessment reports which had been ordered seven years prior to the selling of their lot. These test reports indicated the presence of expansive and collapsible soils most notably in the Appelleesâ back yard. Appellees filed suit against CDC seeking compensatory and punitive damages for fraudulent nondisclosure and misrepresentation. After a jury trial, Appellees were awarded over $3 million in economic damages including pain and suffering. No punitive damages were awarded. After the trial, CDC filed several post-verdict motions including a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The District Court ultimately denied these motions. The Supreme Court held that the jury had sufficient evidence to conclude CDC was liable to Appellees for fraudulent nondisclosure and misrepresentation. The Supreme Court found later, however, that the district court had erred in denying CDCâs motion for a new trial to assess damages. As a result, the Supreme Court reduced Appelleesâ economic damages award.