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Windham v. Lawson

United States District Court, D. Utah

January 16, 2019

MARIA E. WINDHAM, as Receiver for MARQUIS PROPERTIES, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
TODD CLIFTON LAWSON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Jill N. Parrish, United States District Court Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         In a prior case, Chad Deucher pleaded guilty to securities fraud and admitted to operating Marquis Properties, LLC as a Ponzi scheme. On January 18, 2017, the court appointed Maria Windham to act as the Receiver for Marquis Properties. Exactly one year later, she sued several individuals and entities in an attempt to recover Marquis Properties' assets. She alleges two claims for relief as to all the defendants: (1) fraudulent transfers under Utah's Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA), and (2) unjust enrichment. Defendant Todd Lawson moved to dismiss both claims as to him on the grounds that they are time barred. [Docket 64]. After the parties briefed the motion to dismiss, the court ordered them to brief whether the Receiver has standing to assert the fraudulent transfer claim.

         The court concludes that the Receiver may assert a fraudulent transfer claim on behalf of Marquis Properties against Lawson. The court also determines that the fraudulent transfer and unjust enrichment claims are not time barred. The court, therefore, DENIES Lawson's motion to dismiss.

         FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS [1]

         Chad Deucher operated Marquis Properties as a Ponzi scheme from March 2010 to February 2016. He told investors that Marquis Properties located, purchased, renovated, and sold homes in lucrative areas of the country. And he often promised guaranteed returns. But in reality, Marquis Properties was insolvent and paid its investors with money from new investors.

         Todd Lawson was part of the Marquis Properties' in-house sales team and found investors for Marquis Properties. Marquis Properties paid Lawson at least $31, 411.56 in commissions between February 2011 and June 2012.

         Deucher eventually pleaded guilty to securities fraud and admitted that Marquis Properties was a Ponzi scheme. On January 18, 2017, in a parallel civil case, the court appointed Maria Windham to act as the Receiver for Marquis Properties. She filed this lawsuit on January 18, 2018-exactly one year after she was appointed.

         ANALYSIS

         The court first addresses the issue of the Receiver's standing to assert a fraudulent transfer claim on behalf of Marquis Properties to recover commissions that it paid to Lawson. The court then addresses Lawson's statute of limitations arguments.[2]

         I. FRAUDULENT TRANSFER CLAIM

         At the time that Marquis Properties paid commissions to Lawson, Utah's UFTA provided that a transfer made or obligation incurred by a debtor is fraudulent as to a creditor . . . if the debtor made the transfer or incurred the obligation:

(a) with actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud any creditor of the debtor; or
(b) without receiving a reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the transfer or ...

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