The Appellate Group

Buscio v. Carver

Buscio v. Carver, 2023 UT App 162 (Tenney, J.)

Civil Procedures/Contacts

Plaintiffs contracted with Defendants to repair damage done to their condo. Plaintiffs later became dissatisfied and terminated the contract. They later sued Defendants for multiple causes of action related to breach of contract. Defendants counterclaimed and sought to foreclose on a construction lien. In a bench trial, the district court ruled in Plaintiffs’ favor on the lien foreclosure but denied their request for attorney fees. The court ruled in Defendants’ favor on the competing contract claims. Both parties appealed. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding:

  • The district court did not err in concluding that Defendants’ preliminary notice was untimely. However, the court of appeals reversed the district court’s conclusion that Defendants were not entitled to relief under the savings statute.
  • Because the Court of Appeals reversed in part, it reversed the district court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ request for attorney fees and remanded with instructions to employ the “flexible and reasoned approach” to determine if Plaintiffs were entitled to attorney fees.
  • The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendants’ request for attorney fees.
  • Practice tip: A person seeking relief under the Utah construction lien statutes must first file a preliminary notice with the Utah State Construction Registry no later than 20 days after the day on which the person commences working on the real property. But there is a relevant “savings statute” in Utah Code section 38-1a-501 that may apply.

Read the full court opinion