The Appellate Group

Fitzgerald v. Spearhead Investments

Fitzgerald v. Spearhead Investments, LLC, 2021 UT 34 (Himonas, J.)


Fitzgerald et al (Owners) failed to pay on a trust deed note executed with Alpine East for a certain property. Days before the statute of limitations passed allowing Alpine East to foreclose on the property, Owners made assurances to Alpine East that Alpine East relied on. A year later, Owners sought a determination that Alpine East had no interest in the property and filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court ruled in Owners’ favor, reasoning that equitable estoppel did not toll the statute of limitations. Alpine East filed a rule 59 motion in the district court arguing under a theory of equitable estoppel newly sanctioned by the Utah Court of Appeals that Owners had made promises that raised issues of material fact, precluding summary judgment. Owners petitioned for interlocutory appeal. The Utah Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding:

  • Equitable estoppel and equitable discovery are separate doctrines invoked in distinct circumstances and that equitable estoppel may toll the statute of limitations. But a mere promise to pay, without more, is insufficient to invoke the doctrine. On remand, the district court should determine if a material issue of fact exists as to whether Owners’ promises constituted more than a mere promise to pay.

Read the full court opinion