Articles Posted in Utah Supreme Court

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David Pyper hired attorney Justin Bond to represent him in a probate matter. Bond's law firm subsequently sued Pyper to obtain payment of the attorney fees. The district court entered a judgment in favor of the law firm for $10,577. To satisfy the judgment, Bond filed a lien against a house owned by Pyper that was worth approximately $125,000. Bond was the only bidder at the sheriff's sale auctioning Pyper's home and purchased Pyper's home for $329. Pyper later communicated his desire to redeem his property to Dale Dorius, another attorney at the firm, but was unable to speak to Bond after several attempts. After the redemption period expired, the deed to Pyper's home was transferred to Bond. Pyper subsequently filed a petition seeking to set aside the sheriff's sale of his property. The district court set aside the sheriff's sale. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the court of appeals did not err in (1) concluding that gross inadequacy of price together with slight circumstances of unfairness may justify setting aside a sheriff's sale and (2) affirming the district court's conclusion that Bond and Dorius's conduct created, at least, slight circumstances of unfairness.

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This case concerned the application of payments made in connection with a real estate transaction between Kang Park and Marsha Park and Gary Stanford. The district court granted summary judgment to the Parks, determining, as a matter of law, that none of the payments Stanford submitted to the Parks could be credited toward a personal guaranty Stanford had made on the note payable to the Parks. The court of appeals affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment, concluding that no evidence indicated the Parks had actual knowledge that Stanford intended for the past payments to apply to his guaranty and no agreement or contractual provision expressly required the Parks to make such an application. On certiorari, the Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals applied the wrong test in its holding, and rather, a rule in which payments are credited toward a personal guaranty when the recipient of the payments has a reasonable basis to know the payments were submitted in satisfaction of the guaranty governed the application of payments toward a personal guaranty; and (2) genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment under the rule and the record required further development. Remanded.