The Appellate Group

Luna v. Luna

Luna v. Luna, 2020 UT 63 (Pearce, J., majority; Lee, A.C.J., dissenting)

Civil Procedure: Summary Judgement Affidavits

A passenger rode in the driver’s car, and the driver entered an intersection and was hit by another car, injuring the passenger. The passenger sued the driver. During discovery, the passenger testified in his deposition that he believed the driver had a green light and that he had no problem with how the driver drove. The driver said during discovery that she had a green light. The driver moved for summary judgment, arguing that because the passenger and the driver both agreed that the driver had a green light, there was no genuine issue of material fact. The district court granted the driver’s summary judgment motion. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed. The Utah Supreme Court reversed, holding:

  • A party’s deposition testimony is best characterized as an ordinary evidentiary admission that can be contradicted with other appropriate evidence. The court of appeals was incorrect when it treated a party’s admission in a deposition as a judicial admission, or, in other words, an admission that is binding on the party. 
  • Dissent: The dissenting justice would treat an unequivocal statement in a deposition the same way that the rules treat other unequivocal statements before trial: as judicial admissions that are binding on the party that are subject to a party’s right to retract, qualify, or explain away in a manner rendering it no longer equivocal.

Read the full court opinion