By Rodney R. Parker, Dani N. Cepernich, Scott A. Elder, Nathanael J. Mitchell, and Adam M. Pace.
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
State v. Sanchez, 2018 UT 31 (July 5, 2018)
In rejecting an appeal for a murder conviction, the court held that the subjective element for demonstrating extreme emotional distress under the special mitigation statute required a showing that (1) the defendant was “exposed to extremely unusual and overwhelming stress,” (2) that he had an “extreme emotional reaction” to the stress such that his capacity for reason was overcome, (3) that the emotional distress was not the result of a mental illness, and (4) that the distress was not “substantially caused by his own conduct.”
Espenschied Transp. Corp. v. Fleetwood Servs., Inc. 2018 UT 32 (July 5, 2018)
As part of a settlement of a wrongful death suit, a trucking company agreed to pursue claims against its insurance agent and use any funds recovered to satisfy attorney fees and the settlement in the wrongful death. In the subsequent lawsuit, the district court granted the insurance agent’s motion for summary judgment because the trucking company suffered no actual damages. Affirming, the supreme court declined the plaintiff’s invitation to extend Ammerman II to insurance agents and brokers, and held that the plaintiff had failed to create a genuine issue of material of fact on damages, primarily because the plaintiff had never paid any money as a result of the settlement and consent judgment.
Teamsters Local 222 v. Utah Transit Auth. 2018 UT 33 (July 9, 2018)
The court dismissed this appeal on mootness grounds without reaching the merits of the dispute over whether UTA supervisors had collective bargaining rights. The court held that the controversy became moot when the supervisors held an election and voted not to unionize.
Mower v. Baird, 2018 UT 29 (July 5, 2018)
The district court granted summary judgment to the defendant therapist, concluding that the therapist did not owe a duty to the non-patient parent who sued her. The supreme court reversed this decision and remanded for further proceedings, holding that a treating therapist working with a minor child owes a limited duty to a non-patient parent to refrain from affirmative acts that recklessly violate the standard of care in a manner that gives rise to false memories or false allegations of sexual abuse committed by the non-patient parent.
Build v. UDOT, 2018 UT 34 (July 17, 2018)
The court repudiated an interpretation of a prior line of cases purporting to place limits on a successor judge’s authority to overturn a predecessor judge’s rulings. The court held that a successor judge has the same authority as the predecessor judge in reviewing and overturning prior decisions, and that the supposed limits placed on successor judges by the prior case law are merely advisory statements of best practices, not enforceable standards on appeal.
Gregory & Swapp, PLLC v. Kranendonk 2018 UT 36 (July 26, 2018)
In this legal malpractice action, the jury awarded the...