Utah Appellate Highlights, Utah Appeals Court, December 2017

Case summaries for Appellate Highlights are authored by members of Snow Christensen & Martineau’s Appellate Practice Group.  For more information, visit our Appellate Highlights page.

Brand v. Paul,
2017 UT App 196 (Oct. 26, 2017)

Neighboring landowners each filed suit to quiet title to a strip of land adjoining their respective properties.  On appeal, the prevailing landowner argued the appellants lacked standing because they had failed to demonstrate an interest in the property.  Because the trust raised this challenge to the appellants’ standing, appellants had the burden of “demonstrat[ing] how they are aggrieved by the district court’s judgment and how possession of [the] quitclaim deed [they relied on] provides sufficient interest in the matter to invoke th[e] court’s jurisdiction.”  The appellants’ limited briefing on this issue was insufficient to carry this burden.  As a result, the court of appeals dismissed the appeal of the district court’s summary judgment ruling for lack of jurisdiction.  

State v. Yalowski,
2017 UT App 177 (Sept. 21, 2017), reh’g denied (Oct. 27, 2017)

In an appeal from a criminal conviction, the defendant challenged the district court’s refusal to allow him to question the victim about her plea in abeyance and uncharged arrest for giving a false name to a police officer under Rule 608 of the Utah Rules of Evidence. The court of appeals held that the limitations placed on defendant’s cross-examination were harmless, because defendant was able to question the victim about the facts underlying the arrest, and her testimony was corroborated by other witnesses whose credibility was not attacked. 

Estate of Flygare v. Ogden City,
2017 UT App 189 (Oct. 13, 2017)

Pedestrians that were struck by a car on an unlit street alleged the city was negligent in failing to repair its streetlights. After dismissal on summary judgment, the plaintiff’s filed a Rule 59 motion to alter or amend the judgment. The district court ruled against the motion, and held that it was an inappropriate motion to reconsider. Plaintiffs then appealed the summary judgment decision. Defendants argued that because the Rule 59 motion was deemed an inappropriate motion to reconsider, it had not tolled the time to appeal, and the appeal was therefore untimely. The Utah Court of Appeals held that because the motion for relief was styled as a Rule 59 motion, and it plausibly requested the relevant relief, the motion, was procedurally proper and tolled the time for appeal.

Goldenwest Fed. Credit Union v. Kenworthy,
2017 UT App 191 (Oct. 13, 2017)

In its January 12, 2017 opinion in this matter, the court reversed summary judgment granted to the defendant in the underlying contract dispute on statute of limitations grounds.  The court reasoned that plaintiff’s complaint was not time-barred because the statute began to run on the maturity date of the loan of the installment contract.  The court granted a petition for rehearing and changed the result from a reversal to an affirmance of the summary judgment.  The court concluded that its reasoning for the earlier decision was sound, but that it could not consider the winning argument because the appellant had not preserved it and had not raised it on appeal.

State v. Homer,
2017 UT App 184 (Oct. 5, 2017)

The court of appeals concluded that in appropriate cases, the probable cause standard required for bindover can be satisfied by circumstantial evidence regarding drug identity, and that it is not always necessary to present evidence of drug identity at a preliminary hearing.  The State had not presented scientific evidence as to the identity of the drug.