The Appellate Group

Fernwood Place LC v. Layton Partners

Fernwood Place LC v. Layton Partners, 2023 UT App 43 (Mortensen, J.)

Statutory Interpretation

Layton Partners managed a subdivision in which Fernwood Place LC built an
apartment complex. After the building was complete, and a few days before its
sale, Layton Partners filed a lien against the property. Fernwood Place disputed
the lien but paid it to avoid delaying the building’s sale. Four years after paying
the lien, Fernwood filed a complaint asserting that the lien had been wrongful.
The district court granted summary judgment on the claim, concluding that the
statute of limitation was three years. The court of appeals affirmed, holding:

  • Because Fernwood Place had paid the lien, its claim was not to nullify an existing lien but to recover money damages caused by a wrongful lien. Under Utah Statute, a three-year statute of limitation applied.
  • Practice Tip: The Court refused to consider several arguments appellants failed to raise until oral argument based on the preservation rules. While, exceptions to preservation can be difficult to show, litigants have a significantly better chance at success if the argument is raised through out their briefing.

Read the full court opinion