District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Richard D.
McKelvie No. 130901898
McClain, Attorney for Appellant
Richard F. Ensor and Michael C. Barnhill, Attorneys for
Kate A. Toomey authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory
K. Orme and Stephen L. Roth concurred.
Quick Change Artist LLC (Quick Change) appeals the district
court's award of damages and attorney fees to CORA USA
LLC (CORA) in connection with its breach of contract claim
against Quick Change. Quick Change argues the court erred
when it granted three of CORA's motions in limine and
asks us "to vacate or set aside the Final Judgment and
reverse and remand for a new trial." Because Quick
Change has "failed to address the trial court's
detailed ruling, failed to develop [its] citation to
authority, and failed to provide any reasoned analysis based
on that authority, we conclude that [it has] failed to carry
[its] burden of persuasion on appeal." State v.
MacNeill, 2017 UT App 48, ¶ 84; see also State
v. Roberts, 2015 UT 24, ¶ 18, 345 P.3d 1226
(explaining that "our adequate briefing requirement . .
. is a natural extension of an appellant's burden of
persuasion" (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted)). We therefore affirm.
"It is well established that an appellate court will
decline to consider an argument that a party has failed to
adequately brief." Valcarce v. Fitzgerald, 961
P.2d 305, 313 (Utah 1998) (plurality opinion). To be
adequately briefed, an "argument shall contain the
contentions and reasons of the appellant with respect to the
issues presented . . . with citations to the authorities,
statutes, and parts of the record relied on." Utah R.
App. P. 24(a)(9). An adequately briefed argument requires
more than "bald citation to authority but development of
that authority and reasoned analysis based on that
authority." State v. Thomas, 961 P.2d 299, 305
In its appeal, Quick Change asserts several arguments over a
scant six pages. It takes issue with the district court's
decision to grant two of CORA's motions in limine, which
barred Quick Change "from using evidence or testimony
prior to October 28, 2012, " and excluded a number of
unproduced exhibits Quick Change used in its deposition of
CORA. In support of these two arguments, Quick Change cites
Tschaggeny v. Milbank Insurance Co., 2007 UT 37, 163
P.3d 615, for the bare proposition that "a trial court
is free, in the exercise of sound judicial discretion, to
alter a previous in limine ruling, " and
asserts that it should have done so in this case.
Id. ¶ 16 (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). Quick Change also cites Jensen v. IHC
Hospitals, Inc., 2003 UT 51, 82 P.3d 1076, for the
proposition that "[a]n erroneous decision to admit or
exclude evidence does not constitute reversible error unless
the error is harmful." Id. ¶ 100 (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted). Quick Change claims it
was harmed by the court's decision to grant the motions
in limine and "was not able to put on a proper
defense" as a result. But this is the beginning and end
of its legal analysis. "Analysis of what [these
authorities] require and of how the facts of [the] case
satisfy these requirements [is] wholly lacking." See
Thomas, 961 P.2d at 305.
Quick Change's third claim consists of one paragraph in
which it argues the district court erred in awarding CORA
attorney fees. Quick Change cites Stewart v. Utah Public
Service Commission, 885 P.2d 759 (Utah 1994), for the
proposition that, in general, "attorney fees cannot be
recovered by a prevailing party unless a statute or contract
authorizes such an award." Id. at 782.
According to Quick Change, "the original contract
[between the two parties] was no longer controlling" and
therefore the court erroneously awarded CORA attorney fees.
But Quick Change does not demonstrate how the original
contract was superseded or, more importantly, cite any
authority to support its argument that in such a situation
the decision by the court to award the prevailing party its
attorney fees is an abuse of discretion.
Quick Change's final two claims-that its expert and
accompanying expert report should not have been excluded and
that it should have been awarded damages on its counterclaim-
each span one paragraph and lack any citation to authority.
We note that "[w]hile failure to cite to pertinent
authority may not always render an issue inadequately
briefed, it does so when the overall analysis of the issue is
so lacking as to shift the burden of research and argument to
the reviewing court." See Thomas, 961 P.2d at
305. Such is the case here.
In sum, "[w]hile there is no bright line between
adequate and inadequate briefing, " we conclude that
Quick Change has not "developed an argument sufficient
to carry [its] burden of persuasion." See Heslop v.
Bear River Mutual Ins. Co., 2017 UT 5, ¶ 47, 390
P.3d 314; see also Bank of Am. v. Adamson, 2017 UT
2, ¶ 12 ("[A]n appellant who fails to adequately
brief an issue will almost certainly fail to carry its burden
of persuasion on appeal." (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted)). We therefore affirm.
¶7 As a final matter, we address CORA's request for
its attorney fees and costs on appeal. In general, "when
a party who received attorney fees below prevails on appeal,
the party is also entitled to fees reasonably incurred on
appeal." Utah Dep't of Social Services v.
Adams, 806 P.2d 1193, 1197 (Utah Ct. App. 1991); see
also Management Services Corp. v. Development
Associates, 617 P.2d 406, 408-09 (Utah 1980) (explaining
that a prevailing party may receive attorney fees on appeal
where it is permitted by statute or contract). Pursuant to
the parties' agreement, the district court awarded CORA
its attorney fees and costs. Accordingly, CORA "is
entitled to an award of attorney fees reasonably incurred on
appeal" and we remand for calculation of those fees.
See Adams, 806 P.2d at 1198.
Having concluded that Quick Change has failed to meet its
burden of persuasion on each of the issues it raises, we
affirm the district court's rulings and remand for the
limited purpose of determining the ...