by Rodney R. Parker, Dani N. Cepernich, Scott A. Elder, Nathanael J. Mitchell, Adam M. Pace, and Andrew Roth
Editor’s Note: The following appellate cases of interest were recently decided by the Utah Supreme Court, Utah Court of Appeals, and United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The following summaries have been prepared by the authoring attorneys listed above, who are solely responsible for their content.
UTAH SUPREME COURT
MacDonald v. MacDonald, 2018 UT 48 (Sept. 5, 2018)
This appeal arose from a former husband’s petition to modify his former wife’s alimony award. The district court denied the petition, applying a standard set forth in a line of cases from the court of appeals that allows a modification of an alimony order only if there is a substantial change in circumstances that was not contemplated in the original decree of divorce. The court of appeals affirmed this decision, but under a different standard. It repudiated the “contemplated in the decree” standard set forth in prior case law and concluded that Utah Code § 30-3-5(8)(i) allows for a modification of alimony only where there is a “substantial change in circumstances not foreseeable at the time of the divorce.” On certiorari, the supreme court affirmed the court of appeals and further clarified that the foreseeability inquiry must be based on evidence that was in the record of the trial court that entered the decree.
State v. Fullerton, 2018 UT 49 (Sept. 11, 2018)
In this case involving an appeal from the denial of a motion to suppress statements the criminal defendant made during an interview with the police, the Utah Supreme Court addressed the proper standard for evaluating whether a person is involved in a “custodial interrogation” such that Miranda warnings are required. In light of the evolution of United States Supreme Court precedent on this issue, the four factors articulated in Salt Lake City v. Carner, 664 P.2d 1168 (Utah 1983) cannot be considered exclusively. Rather, proper use of the Carner factors requires “considering them in conjunction with all other relevant circumstances.” Each factor “should be considered when relevant, ignored when not, and given appropriate weight according to the circumstances.”
GeoMetWatch v. Hall, 2018 UT 50 (Sept. 12, 2018)
This case came before the court as a certified question from the United States District Court of the District of Utah. At issue was whether certain Utah State University foundations were entitled to immunity under Utah’s Governmental Immunity Act as instrumentalities of the state. Although the Utah Supreme Court declined to answer the ultimate question it was presented in this case, it did provide a framework for determining whether an entity acts as an instrumentality of the state: The determination of whether an entity is an instrumentality of the state requires a comparison of the proposed entity with those entities enumerated by the statute. Specifically the court must decide “whether the entity is a branch of the state that carries out state functions,” and if so whether those functions are “of the same general kind, class, character, or nature as those enumerated terms.”
Reperex, Inc. v. Coldwell Banker Commercial, 2018 UT 51 (Sept. 18, 2018)
This case involved a breach of fiduciary...