Thomas D. Boyle, Respondent,
Clyde Snow & Sessions, P.C., Petitioner.
Certiorari to the Utah Court of Appeals
District, Salt Lake The Honorable James D. Gardner No.
Jeffrey S. Williams, Salt Lake City, for petitioner
D. Boyle, Fruit Heights, Scott R. Hoyt, Salt Lake City, for
Associate Chief Justice Lee authored the opinion of the
Court, in which Chief Justice Durrant, Justice Durham,
Justice Himonas, and Justice Pearce joined.
Associate Chief Justice.
This case was filed and litigated for years as a wrongful
death action. It has now devolved to a dispute over attorney
fees. The fee dispute is between Thomas Boyle, who
represented the plaintiff in the wrongful death action, and
the law firms with which he was affiliated (Clyde Snow &
Sessions, P.C. and later Prince Yeates & Geldzahler,
The wrongful death action settled after six years of
litigation. And in the wake of the settlement-but prior to
dismissal or final judgment-one of the law firms (Clyde Snow)
asserted a lien against a portion of the settlement funds
based on its claim for attorney fees. The procedural and
substantive propriety of the Clyde Snow claim was litigated
over the course of about a year in the district court.
Ultimately, the district court upheld the viability of that
claim and entered an order awarding a portion of the
settlement funds as fees to Clyde Snow.
The court of appeals reversed that order on appeal. It
concluded that Clyde Snow had failed to intervene in the
manner required by law, that the parties had not waived any
objection to the defects in intervention, and thus that the
district court lacked jurisdiction to award attorney fees to
We reverse. Like the district court, we conclude that Boyle
waived any objection to procedural deficiencies in Clyde
Snow's intervention. Boyle effectively acquiesced in the
litigation over fees and even advanced his own competing
claim to fees. And we hold that in these circumstances any
objection to the procedural deficiencies in Clyde Snow's
intervention was waived by Mr. Boyle.
The underlying wrongful death action began in 2007 when the
plaintiff retained Clyde Snow. Thomas Boyle was the lead
attorney in the wrongful death action between 2007 and 2010.
In June 2010, Boyle left Clyde Snow and joined Prince Yeates.
And the plaintiff elected to have the claim follow Boyle to
Prince Yeates. On July 7, 2010, Clyde Snow filed a notice of
lien relating to its representation of plaintiff until June
Three years later, on June 28, 2013 the parties to the
underlying dispute filed a motion to dismiss the case with
prejudice in light of a settlement. That same day, Clyde Snow
filed an objection to dismissal and restated its notice of
On July 15, 2013 the district court held a telephonic hearing
on the motion to dismiss and Clyde Snow's objection. At
the hearing the defendants in the underlying action opposed
deciding the attorney lien issue in the same action. In their
view the attorney lien should be the subject of a separate
lawsuit. Boyle, however, did not oppose deciding the attorney
lien issue in the underlying action. And the district court