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Meritage Companies LLC v. Gross

Court of Appeals of Utah

November 30, 2017

Meritage Companies LLC, Appellant,
v.
Robert Gross and AK Meritage Companies LLC, Appellees.

         Second District Court, Ogden Department The Honorable Ernest W. Jones No. 150906138

          M. Darin Hammond, Attorney for Appellant

          David C. Wright and Brooke M. Wangsgard, Attorneys for Appellees

          Judge Diana Hagen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Kate A. Toomey and David N. Mortensen concurred.

          HAGEN, JUDGE.

         ¶1 Meritage Companies LLC (Meritage) is embroiled in litigation in Alaska. The adverse parties in that litigation, Robert Gross and AK Meritage Companies LLC (collectively, AK Meritage), filed a lis pendens in Utah, claiming the action pending in Alaska potentially affects Utah real estate. Meritage filed a motion in a Utah district court seeking several forms of relief related to the lis pendens. The district court denied that motion, and Meritage appeals. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 AK Meritage recorded a lis pendens in Weber County, Utah, concerning two parcels of land located in North Ogden (collectively, the North Ogden Properties). Meritage is listed as owner on the title to the North Ogden Properties and is in the process of developing those parcels. The lis pendens gave "notice . . . of an action affecting title to" the North Ogden Properties and referenced an Alaska lawsuit captioned Meritage Companies, LLC (Alaska entity 1001428) and Jack Barrett v. Robert "Bob" Gross and AK Meritage Companies, LLC (Alaska entity 86426), Case No. 3AN-15-8320 CI.

         ¶3 Meritage initiated this action by filing a Petition for Nullification of Lis Pendens (the Petition) in the Second District Court in Ogden, Utah. Meritage claimed that the lis pendens was delaying its development project and filed a motion seeking to release the lis pendens or, in the alternative, to require AK Meritage to post sufficient guarantee (the Motion). In the Motion, Meritage also requested an injunction, prohibiting AK Meritage from maintaining the lis pendens or otherwise attempting to encumber the North Ogden Properties. After hearing argument and receiving evidence on the Motion, the district court found that "the only [court] that has the authority to release [the] lis pendens is . . . the Alaska court." Accordingly, the district court denied the Motion for release of the lis pendens, posting of a guarantee, and injunctive relief.

         ISSUES AND STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         ¶4 On appeal, Meritage challenges the denial of the three types of relief sought in its Motion. First, Meritage contends that the district court erred in denying its request for release of the lis pendens. Second, Meritage contends that the district court erred in denying its request for a guarantee. Both issues concern the district court's statutory interpretation and application and are reviewed for correctness. See Bott v. Osburn, 2011 UT App 139, ¶ 5, 257 P.3d 1022 ("The proper interpretation and application of a statute is a question of law which we review for correctness, affording no deference to the district court's legal conclusions." (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).

         ¶5 Meritage also contends that the district court erred in denying its request for injunctive relief. This issue is reviewed for abuse of discretion. See Water & Energy Sys. Tech., Inc. v. Keil, 1999 UT 16, ¶ 6, 974 P.2d 821. An appellate court "will not disturb a district court's grant [or denial] of a preliminary injunction unless the district court abused its discretion or rendered a decision against the clear weight of the evidence." Id.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Denial of ...


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