District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Barry G.
Lawrence No. 984907587
L. Booher and Beth E. Kennedy,  Attorneys for Appellant
Hatch, Attorney for Appellee
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.
Alexis Nelson (Mother), formerly known as Alexis Veysey,
appeals the district court's order denying her claim for
daycare-expense arrearages. We affirm.
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
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.'' 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.''
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.
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.
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