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Kang Sik Park, M.D. v. First American Title Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Utah

July 12, 2017

Kang Sik Park, M.D. Plaintiff,
v.
First American Title Insurance Company Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DALE A. KIMBALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on Defendant First American Title Insurance Company's (“First American”) Motion to Dismiss claims brought by Plaintiff Kang Sik Park, M.D. (“Park”) for being time barred, for prior material breach, and for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted.

         The court held a hearing on the motions on July 6, 2017. At the hearing, Robert Mansfield and Christopher Feuz represented Park; Mark Morris represented First American. The court took the motion under advisement. Having carefully considered the law and facts relevant to the pending motion, the court issues the following Memorandum Decision and Order.

         BACKGROUND

         First American is a Nebraska corporation doing business in Salt Lake County. It issued a title insurance policy (“the Policy”) to Park, an individual residing in Salt Lake County, after Park provided Peter and Virginia Lamb with a private loan. The Lambs secured the loan by naming Park as the beneficiary of a deed of trust to their ownership interest in two different parcels of land. Park purchased the Policy through First American to insure his interest in the parcels. In August 2010, Park and the Lambs were named, among others, as defendants in a Quiet Title Action challenging their interest in one of the parcels. Park answered the Quiet Title Action in February 2011 and otherwise handled the case pro se.

         Park met with First American in December 2013 to discuss the litigation. At that time, the individual he met with initiated a claim (“the Claim”) under Park's policy. First American did not respond to the Claim.

         In October 2015, the Third Judicial District Court, Salt Lake County, held a hearing on the Quiet Title Action. In December 2015, Judge Bernards-Goodman concluded that the Lambs', and thus Park's, interest in the property was invalid. At some unspecified point in the factual history of this case, the Lambs defaulted on the loan. Because he had received no response from First American regarding his claim, Park filed the Complaint that initiated this litigation.

         Park's Complaint alleges four causes of action: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (3) an alternative claim for breach of implied-in-fact contract; and (4) an alternative claim for unjust enrichment, quasi contract, and/or contract implied in law.

         First American's Motion to Dismiss asserts that all of Park's claims are time barred. Next it argues that Park breached his contractual duties under the Policy first, which released First American of its obligations under the first breach doctrine. Finally, First American argues that Park's claims fail as a matter of law.

         DISCUSSION

         Ample case law states that if an insurance contract fails to provide a choice of law provision, a federal court sitting in diversity will apply the law of the forum state. Salt Lake Tribune Publ'g Co., LLC v. Mgmt. Planning, Inc., 390 F.3d 684, 687 (10th Cir. 2004). The court therefore allows Utah law to govern this dispute.

         First American asks the court to dismiss all of Park's claims for being time barred. It cites to Utah Code § 31A-21-313(1)(a), which states that actions against insurers regarding an insurance policy must be brought within three years after the “inception of the loss.” Utah Code Ann. § 31A-21-313 (West).

         Park argues that he suffered no loss until December 2015 when he lost the Quiet Title Action. He points to § 8 of the Policy, which states that, in the event of litigation, First American has no liability until a court of competent jurisdiction has issued a final judgement. According to Park, § 8 tolled the statute of limitations until the time for appeal in the Quiet Title Action had passed. Therefore, Park concludes that his “inception of loss” did not occur until January 2016, which was the deadline to appeal the Quiet Title Action's final judgement. The court disagrees.

         Inception ...


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