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Ross v. Short

Court of Appeals of Utah

September 20, 2018

Yan Ross and Randi Wagner, Appellees,
v.
Douglas R. Short, Appellant.

          Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable John Paul Kennedy and Ryan M. Harris No. 070915820

          Douglas R. Short, Appellant Pro Se.

          John H. Bogart, Attorney for Appellees.

          Judge Diana Hagen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele M. Christiansen Forster and David N. Mortensen concurred.

          OPINION

          HAGEN, Judge.

         ¶1 Appellant Douglas R. Short appeared as an attorney for an intervenor in supplemental proceedings to enforce a judgment. Short has faced multiple sanctions based on his improper conduct as an attorney in those proceedings. This appeal concerns the most recent sanctions imposed by the district court, ordering Short to pay the attorney fees that Appellees, Yan Ross and Randi Wagner, incurred in responding to a series of motions that lacked a legal or factual basis or were submitted for an improper purpose. Short appeals the district court's final judgment awarding sanctions totaling $27, 981.07, plus interest, as well as the denial of his subsequent motions to vacate that judgment. We affirm and award Appellees the costs and attorney fees incurred in defending this appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In January 2009, Ross and Wagner moved for a writ of execution to enforce a judgment against Global Fraud Solutions (GFS). Michael K. Barnett, the general manager of GFS, intervened, claiming that he personally owned the assets subject to the writ. Short appeared as legal counsel for Barnett.

         ¶3 On December 30, 2014, as a result of Short's performance as counsel in these proceedings, the district court granted Ross and Wagner's motion for sanctions under rule 11 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure (the Sanctions Order). In an attempt to "compensate [Ross and Wagner] as well as deter Mr. Short," the district court directed Ross and Wagner's attorney to submit "an affidavit of attorney fees and a proposed order . . . detailing the amount incurred in responding to the subject motions." The court imposed the sanctions under rule 11 and its "'inherent power to impose monetary sanctions on attorneys who by their conduct thwart the court's scheduling and movement of cases through the court.'" (Quoting Maxwell v. Woodall, 2014 UT App 125, ¶ 6, 328 P.3d 869.)

         ¶4 As directed, Ross and Wagner's attorney, John H. Bogart, filed a declaration (the Bogart Declaration) regarding attorney fees within ten days. Short filed no opposition, and Ross and Wagner moved to submit the matter for decision. The district court found that the attorney fees were reasonable, granted relief in the amount requested, and invited Ross and Wagner to submit a proposed order reflecting the ruling.

         ¶5 Ross and Wagner served Short with a proposed order regarding the fees request. Again, Short filed no objection to the proposed order, and Ross and Wagner submitted the order for signature once the time for filing objections had passed. On February 9, 2015, the court entered the final order as proposed, awarding attorney fees in the amount of $27, 981.07 (the Fees Order).

         ¶6 Short failed to pay the award, and Ross and Wagner moved for entry of judgment. They served Short with a proposed, final judgment assessing interest on the original award. Once Short's deadline to file an objection had passed, Ross and Wagner moved to submit the motion for entry of judgment. That same day, Short moved for an extension of time to file an opposition. The court granted a two-day extension. When Short failed to file an opposition within that timeframe, Ross and Wagner again submitted the matter for signature. The district court entered the judgment as proposed on July 2, 2015 (the Judgment).

         ¶7 On September 30, 2015, Short filed two motions to vacate the Judgment under rule 60(b) of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure. On November 12, 2015, the district court denied both motions by order. Short then filed a motion to vacate the November 12 order. On November 30, 2015, the district court denied that motion as well.

         ¶8 Short filed this appeal challenging the Judgment and both the November 12 and 30 orders denying his motions to vacate.

         ISSUES AND STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         ¶9 Short raises three issues on appeal. First, Short argues that the district court should have granted his rule 60(b) motion for relief from the Judgment. "We review a Rule 60(b) motion for abuse of discretion."[1]Golden Meadows ...


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