Q-2 v. HUGHES, 2016 UT 8
Property Owner Tip: Make sure your fences, hedges and other property line identifiers are acceptable to you because otherwise if you leave them as is you may lose that strip of your property if you sit on it long enough.
Case Summary: In this case, the Utah Supreme Court determined the timing when legal ownership transfers in a boundary by acquiescence case. The specific question the court was faced with was the following: does title transfer automatically without court action at the time all of the legal elements are met, or does title transfer only when a judicial order is made determining the legal elements are met? The Utah Supreme Court determined that legal ownership to property passes automatically or "by operation of law" at the time when all of the legal elements of boundary by acquiescence are met regardless of whether a party has brought a law suit to determine ownership of that property. This may not sound like much, but because of this ruling the legal ownership of property is not as clear as what is recorded with the county recorder. This could give rise to a number of title disputes, and I expect title insurance companies will eventually stop insuring over these issues.
Fallstrom v. Department of Workforce Services, 2016 UT App 21
Business Owner Tip 1: Even if your employee quits you may still be on the hook for unemployment.
Business Owner Tip 2: If an employee files a labor dispute, making a good case before the ALJ is the most important time and place to expend resources because what happens there usually stands.
Case Summary: In the Fallstrom case, an employee voluntarily terminated his employment, and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined that the employee was not entitled to unemployment benefits accordingly. The court went on to explain, that in some circumstances for good reason and fairness, a court may award unemployment even when an employee voluntarily terminates his or her employment, but ultimately the court decided not to disturb the decision of the ALJ. In an unemployment case, the ALJ's decision is extremely important because the Utah Court of Appeals rarely reverses an ALJ's order out of deference to the fact determinations made by the ALJ in its hearings.
Atlas Van Lines v. The Dinosaur Museum, 2016 UT App 30
Business Owner Tip: If you have an agreement in a contract that effects who is supposed to pay a third party for services that affect both parties to a contract, make sure that you reach out to that third party and let them know who is supposed to pay and make sure the third party acknowledge and agree to the payment terms otherwise both parties may be on the hook.
Case Summary: In this case, Atlas sued the Dinosaur Museum for payment of shipment expenses. The Dinosaur Museum had contracted with a casino in Atlantic City to ship some dinosaur bones and artifacts for an exhibit at the casino. The casino agreed to be responsible for the payment of shipment costs. Leading up to shipping the artifacts, the Dinosaur Museum regularly communicated and confirmed with Atlas that the casino would be paying the shipping costs and that the Dinosaur Museum would not be paying anything for shipping. After shipping the artifacts, the casino failed to pay Atlas and then Atlas sued the Dinosaur Museum. While the general rule is that a shipper can recover its shipping costs from either party in a shipping transaction, the Utah Court of Appeals found that Atlas was equitably estopped from demanding payment from the Dinosaur Museum because of the numerous written confirmations and notices that the Dinosaur Museum would not be paying for shipping costs.
Reynolds v. Gentry Finance Corporation, 2016 UT App 35
Business Owner Tip: Employers need to make sure their Employment Manuals do not expand the employers' obligations to their employees outside of what is agreed to in their Employment Agreements and that the property liability waivers are included in their Employment Manuals.
Case Summary: In this employment dispute, the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the granting of a motion for summary judgment. The Utah Court of Appeals held that an Employee Handbook's guaranties can be considered a unilateral contract and may modify a prior written employment contract despite it having a full integration clause and regardless the parol evidence rule.