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Walker v. Zeus Land Holdings

Walker v. Zeus Land Holdings, 2021 UT App 9 (Harris, J.)

Property

Walker subdivided his lot into two smaller lots, relying on the 1978 amendment to the original restrictive covenants (CC&Rs) governing lot division in his community. Some of his neighbors opposed the division, citing the original 1940 CC&Rs as well as a document with eleven signatures stating that it amended and reaffirmed the original CC&Rs. The neighbors further obtained a lis pendens over the property. A district court granted Walker’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the neighbors to release the lis pendens if the neighbors did not post a $65,000 bond. On appeal, the Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • As a matter of statutory interpretation, under Utah Code § 78A-7-118(3), an appeal to the district court from a negotiated plea in justice court does not vacate or void the judgement of the justice court. Under the plain language of the statute, the judgment persists, but may be stayed pending the defendant’s appeal to district court. If the appeal is withdrawn prior to the district court entering a final judgment, the judgment entered by the justice court remains the final judgment in the case. Accordingly, the Court remanded with instructions to reinstate Ms. Kamoe’s original judgment.
  • The district court correctly determined that the 1978 amendment to the CC&Rs permitted Walker’s subdivision. And an opposition letter from neighbors does not provide “‘actual notice’ of a legally cognizable prior interest in real estate property” under Utah Code Ann. 57-3-101.
  • The district court did not abuse its discretion when it released the lis pendens because the neighbors have no valid objection to Walker’s subdivision under the governing CC&Rs.
  • Practice point: The document the neighbors signed likely has no bearing on the case, because it was signed some two years after Walker’s subdivision and after summary judgment briefing was complete.

Read the full court opinion

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