Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Veysey v. Nelson

Court of Appeals of Utah

May 4, 2017

Andrew Veysey, Appellee,
v.
Alexis Nelson, Appellant.

         Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Barry G. Lawrence No. 984907587

          Troy L. Booher and Beth E. Kennedy, [1] Attorneys for Appellant

          Jenna Hatch, Attorney for Appellee

          Judge Gregory K. Orme authored this Memorandum Decision, in which Judge Stephen L. Roth concurred. Judge J. Frederic Voros Jr. concurred in the result, with opinion.

          ORME, Judge

         ¶1 Alexis Nelson (Mother), formerly known as Alexis Veysey, appeals the district court's order denying her claim for daycare-expense arrearages. We affirm.

         ¶2 In 2013, Mother sought reimbursement from Andrew Veysey (Father) for daycare expenses that she incurred between 2002-over a decade earlier-and 2006. The commissioner denied her claim in substantial part, holding that laches and the applicable statute of limitations precluded the recovery of daycare expenses incurred before 2005. Mother filed an objection with the district court, which conducted an evidentiary hearing and approved the commissioner's order.

         ¶3 Mother appealed, and we vacated the order and remanded for additional findings of fact and conclusions of law. See Veysey v. Veysey, 2014 UT App 264, ¶ 21, 339 P.3d 131. In that prior appeal, we concluded that'' variable daycare expenses constitute[d] child support'' and that the statute of limitations did'' not preclude Mother from seeking reimbursement for the pre-2005 daycare expenses.''[2] Id. ¶ 15. We noted, however, that if supported by adequate factual findings, laches could equitably preclude the recovery of daycare expenses that were legally recoverable under the statute of limitations. See id. ¶ 18.

         ¶4 On remand, the district court held that laches barred most of Mother's reimbursement claims. Mother, a lawyer, then filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment, claiming that Utah law prohibits the application of laches when an action is timely under the applicable statute of limitations. The district court denied that motion. Mother appeals.

         ¶5 Mother raises two arguments. First, she argues that the district court erroneously applied the doctrine of laches. Whether laches applies is a question of law, which we review for correctness.[3] See Johnson v. Johnson, 2014 UT 21, ¶ 8 & n.11, 330 P.3d 704. Second, Mother claims that the district court erred by concluding that she unreasonably delayed her action and that her delay prejudiced Father. The application of laches to a particular set of facts and circumstances'' presents a mixed question of law and fact.'' See id. ¶ 8. Within that framework, ''we review the trial court's conclusions of law for correctness ''and'' will disturb [its] findings of fact only if they are clearly erroneous.'' Matthews v. Galetka, 958 P.2d 949, 950 (Utah Ct. App. 1998). Although ''we typically grant some level of deference to the trial court's application of law to the facts, '' Wayment v. Howard, 2006 UT 56, ¶ 9, 144 P.3d 1147, the court's determination must be supported by adequate factual findings, see Anderson v. Thompson, 2008 UT App 3, ¶ 42, 176 P.3d 464.

         ¶6 Mother argues that ''Utah law precludes laches as a defense to court-ordered child support, including variable daycare expenses.'' Specifically, she asserts that the Utah Supreme Court has ''rejected the application of laches as a defense to legal claims.''

         ¶7 In support of her assertion, Mother cites DOIT, Inc. v. Touche, Ross & Co., 926 P.2d 835 (Utah 1996), where the Utah Supreme Court stated that when ''the plaintiff's claims are based in law, the statute of limitations, not the doctrine of laches, governs the timing surrounding a plaintiff's filing of a complaint.'' Id. at 845. But DOIT failed to note that Utah has ''abolished any formal distinction between law and equity, ''Borland v. Chandler, 733 P.2d 144, 146 (Utah 1987), and in support of the proposition Mother cites, DOIT relied on United States Supreme Court authority that predates the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, see DOIT, 926 P.2d at 845. With the adoption of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1938, however, the distinction between law and equity was abolished in the federal courts. See Dairy Queen, Inc. v. Wood, 369 U.S. 469, 472 n.5 (1962). See also Borland, 733 P.2d at 146 (noting that ''[i]t is well established that equitable defenses may be applied in actions at law and that principles of equity apply wherever necessary to prevent injustice''). And in the years following DOIT, the Utah Supreme Court has specifically held that' '[t]he doctrine of laches may apply in equity, whether or not a statute of limitation also applies and whether or not an applicable statute of limitation has been satisfied.'' Insight Assets, Inc. v. Farias, 2013 UT 47, ¶ 18, 321 P.3d 1021 (alteration in original) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Accordingly, because laches may apply in situations where the statute of limitations has not yet run, the existence of a statute of limitations does not, as Mother suggests, automatically preclude application of the laches doctrine.[4]

         ¶8 Mother also contends that her delay was reasonable and that it did not prejudice Father. The laches doctrine ''is founded upon considerations of time and injury.'' Id. ¶ 17 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).''To successfully assert a laches defense, a defendant must establish both that the plaintiff unreasonably delayed in bringing an action and that the defendant was prejudiced by that delay.'' Borland, 733 P.2d at 147.

         ¶9 In regard to unreasonable delay, Mother claims that her action was reasonable because it was timely under the applicable statute of limitations. See Utah Code Ann. § 78B-5-202(6)(a)(i) (LexisNexis Supp. 2016). Relying on Lee v. Gaufin,867 P.2d 572 (Utah 1993), Mother insists that any action consistent with the applicable statute of limitations is ''reasonable per se.'' See id. at 576 (stating that statutes of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.