District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Elizabeth
A. Hruby-Mills No. 149905786
T. Farmer, Attorney for Appellant.
A. Klc, Attorney for Appellee.
Gregory K. Orme authored this Memorandum Decision, in which
Judges Stephen L. Roth and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
Goldenwest Federal Credit Union appeals the district
court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Kathleen F.
Kenworthy. We reverse and remand.
"In reviewing a district court's grant of summary
judgment, we view the facts and all reasonable inferences
drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party and recite the facts accordingly." Ockey v.
Club Jam, 2014 UT App 126, ¶ 2 n.2, 328 P.3d 880
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "A
summary judgment movant must show both that there is no
material issue of fact and that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Orvis v.
Johnson, 2008 UT 2, ¶ 10, 177 P.3d 600 (emphasis in
On April 24, 2006, Kenworthy entered into a loan agreement
with Goldenwest for the purchase of a vehicle. The loan's
maturity date was April 15, 2012. Kenworthy initially agreed
to repay the loan in monthly installments of $487.21. In May
of 2008, after failing to make payments on the loan for two
months, Kenworthy called Goldenwest, discussed her financial
difficulties, and indicated that she would not be able to
make the scheduled payments. Goldenwest agreed to reduce
Kenworthy's monthly payments to $200 per month. Kenworthy
does not contend that any other terms of the loan agreement
were modified. Kenworthy made one $200 payment but made no
Approximately six years later, on February 5, 2014,
Goldenwest sued Kenworthy for the remaining balance due on
the loan. Kenworthy moved for summary judgment,
claiming that Goldenwest's claims were "barred by
the statute of limitations." The district court granted
Kenworthy's motion, concluding that "[t]he
applicable statute of limitation had run prior to
[Goldenwest] initiating the present action." It then
granted Kenworthy's request for attorney fees, to which
Goldenwest had failed to respond. Goldenwest appeals.
Goldenwest argues that the district court erred in granting
Kenworthy's summary judgment motion because "[t]he
statute of limitations did not run before this action was
commenced." "An appellate court reviews a trial
court's legal conclusions and ultimate grant or denial of
summary judgment for correctness[.]" Orvis,
2008 UT 2, ¶ 6 (citation and internal quotation marks
"Subject to one exception inapplicable here, " a
six-year statute of limitations "applies to 'any
contract, obligation, or liability founded upon an instrument
in writing.'" Griffin v. Cutler,
2014 UT App 251, ¶ 18, 339 P.3d 100 (quoting Utah Code
Ann. § 78B-2-309(2) (LexisNexis 2012)). But an action on
an oral agreement is subject to a four-year statute of
limitations. See Utah Code Ann. §
78B-2-307(1)(a) (LexisNexis 2012); Griffin, 2014 UT
App 251, ¶ 15. And "where a specific material term
of [a] contract in writing is subsequently changed orally,
the statute of limitations applicable to oral contracts
applies." Strand v. Union Pac. R.R., 312 P.2d
561, 563 (Utah 1957).
Goldenwest and Kenworthy orally agreed to change a single
term of the written loan agreement, namely, the amount of the
monthly installment payments. The total amount due, the rate
of interest, the maturity date, and the collateral for the
loan all remained the same. If the change in the required
monthly installment amount is material, the four-year statute
of limitations applies to this case. See id. But we
are far from certain that a lender's accommodation of its
borrower by lowering the monthly payment, while none of the
other loan terms change, constitutes a material change
triggering the four-year statute. Nevertheless, even if the
four-year statute applies, we disagree with how the district
court applied the statute of limitations.
In its summary judgment ruling, the district court focused on
the date the last installment payment was made and held that
the statute of limitations had run, regardless of whether the
four-or six-year statute applied. But this court has observed
that when an "installment contract calls for the entire
balance to become due on some specific future date, and the
obligee has done nothing to legally accelerate the future
payments, the statute of limitations begins to run only after
the obligor defaults on the final due
date.‛ Anderson v. Davis, 2008 UT App
86U, para. 2.
Kenworthy did not demonstrate that Goldenwest accelerated
Kenworthy's repayment obligation, and the district court
did not address whether Goldenwest accelerated the debt. If
Goldenwest did not, then the statute of limitations began to
run on April 15, 2012, the maturity date of the loan. See
id. Because Kenworthy did not establish that Goldenwest
accelerated the debt, it must be presumed that the unpaid
balance became due at maturity. Accordingly, it cannot be
concluded as a matter of law that Goldenwest's suit is
time-barred given that it filed ...