The Appellate Group

Fritsche v. Deer Valley Ridge

Fritsche v. Deer Valley Ridge, 2022 UT App 1 (Tenney, J.)

Contract Law

A misplaced sprinkler allegedly caused damage to a Park City condominium owned by the Deb & Win Trust (‘Trust’). The Trust sued its condominium association (‘Association’) for damages. The parties initially settled. The Association asked the district court to enforce the settlement and the Trust argued the settlement was unenforceable because Trust Counsel did not have written authority to enter into the settlement agreement. The district court rejected the Trust’s argument and ruled the settlement was enforceable. The Association requested the district court to award it attorney fees and the court denied that request. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The settlement agreement—critically the Management Provision—is enforceable because the Trust carried the burden of proof to support its statute of frauds defense that Trust Counsel was never given written authority to enter into the Management provision. The Trust failed to provide that proof when it offered only its own unsupported statement without any additional evidence that Trust Counsel lacked authority to enter into the Management Provision.
  • Because the Trust made a deliberate choice to initially oppose the enforcement of the settlement agreement without presenting evidence at the heart of the case (out of reluctance to waive the attorney-client privilege), the district court was not required to grant the Trust “a do-over under the guise of rule 60(b)(6) after the Trust lost in the initial proceedings.”
  • The Association is not entitled to attorney fees because (1) the attorney fee provision was in the draft agreement, not the binding settlement agreement, and (2) the plain language of the relevant Declaration indicates that the Association is only entitled to attorney fees if the Management Committee brings ‘an action’ against a unit owner for failure to comply—and that was not the case here.

Read the full court opinion