Robinson v. Robinson, No. 20130652–CA.

CourtUtah Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtCHRISTIANSEN, Judge
Citation368 P.3d 147
Parties Michael S. ROBINSON, Appellant, v. Debra J. ROBINSON, Appellee.
Decision Date19 February 2016
Docket NumberNo. 20130652–CA.

368 P.3d 147

Michael S. ROBINSON, Appellant,
v.
Debra J. ROBINSON, Appellee.

No. 20130652–CA.

Court of Appeals of Utah.

Feb. 19, 2016.


368 P.3d 150

F. Kevin Bond, Salt Lake City, and Budge W. Call, for Appellant.

Dean C. Andreasen, Salt Lake City, and Diana L. Telfer, for Appellee.

Judge MICHELE M. CHRISTIANSEN authored this Opinion, in which Judges GREGORY K. ORME and STEPHEN L. ROTH concurred.

Opinion

CHRISTIANSEN, Judge:

¶ 1 Michael S. Robinson (Husband) raises numerous challenges to the district court's findings, rulings, and orders in the ongoing divorce litigation between himself and Debra J. Robinson (Wife). We affirm.

BACKGROUND

¶ 2 Husband filed a petition for divorce in February 2007. At that time, the marital estate included extensive real property, including a commercial plaza known as Phoenix Plaza. Husband and Wife arrived at a stipulated property settlement agreement on November 2, 2007 (the Stipulation). In the Stipulation, the parties agreed that Phoenix Plaza had a fair market value of $7.25 million. As relevant here, the Stipulation provided that Husband would receive Phoenix Plaza and that he was required to refinance the loan on the property. From the proceeds of the refinance, Husband was to pay Wife $1,784,419 for her share of Phoenix Plaza. The Stipulation required that Husband "file the loan refinance application within 15 days of the date of [the Stipulation]" and provided that "[i]f the re-financing does not occur within one hundred twenty (120) days of the date the parties sign [the Stipulation]," Husband would pay 8 percent interest to Wife on the amount owing to her.

¶ 3 Husband did not apply to refinance the Phoenix Plaza loan within fifteen days of entering into the Stipulation, or at any time thereafter. Wife moved for entry of a divorce decree based on the Stipulation in February 2008. Husband moved to set aside the Stipulation, "arguing that his performance under [the Stipulation] was excused because[,] due to the parties' mistaken assumptions regarding the status of [leases at Phoenix Plaza], it was impossible for him to secure the contemplated loan." Robinson v. Robinson, 2010 UT App 96, ¶ 4, 232 P.3d 1081. The district court denied Husband's motion and entered a decree of divorce incorporating the Stipulation on December 31, 2008. Husband appealed. Id. ¶ 1.

¶ 4 This court affirmed the district court's denial of Husband's motion to set aside, reasoning that "the evidence Husband offer[ed] to show that the parties were mistaken as to the value of the plaza speaks only to the value of the plaza after events unfolded regarding the expiring leases." Id. ¶ 10 (emphasis in original). In other words, "Husband set[ ] forth no evidence that at the time the stipulation was signed the plaza was not worth the value the parties attributed to it." Id. (emphasis in original). This court also noted that even if Husband had made a mistake in his valuation due to inadequate information, that mistake would not be grounds to set aside the Stipulation, because he had chosen to enter the Stipulation while aware of the inadequacy. Id. ¶ 11. Finally, this court rejected Husband's impossibility claim because the impossibility he alleged existed at the time the parties entered into the Stipulation and thus was not "an unforeseen event occur[ring] after formation of the contract. " Id. ¶ 12 (emphases in original) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

¶ 5 This court's opinion affirming the district court's denial of Husband's motion to set aside the Stipulation was issued on April 22, 2010. On October 8, 2010, Wife moved for an order to show cause for Husband to demonstrate why he should not be held in contempt for failing to comply with the divorce decree incorporating the Stipulation's terms. Husband responded with declarations to the effect that he would not have been able to refinance Phoenix Plaza, even if he had submitted a financing application. At the hearing on Wife's motion, the parties agreed to several measures intended to advance the sale of Phoenix Plaza and another commercial property, Sandy Retail Center. The commissioner struck Husband's declarations, entered an order incorporating the

368 P.3d 151

parties' agreements, and certified the contempt allegations for an evidentiary hearing before the district court. Despite these proceedings, it appears that Husband continued to frustrate the sale of Phoenix Plaza by failing to sign listing agreements or respond to purchase offers. Eventually, the district court ordered Husband to sign a purchase contract addendum to accept a pending offer on Phoenix Plaza; because Husband still refused, the court authorized the court clerk to sign for him.

¶ 6 At the July 26, 2011 evidentiary hearing, the district court found Husband in contempt for failing to comply with the divorce decree. For a variety of reasons, the court's written findings, order, and judgment were not issued until March 1, 2012. These reasons included Husband's pro se filing of a fraud action against Wife, Husband's bankruptcy filing, and Husband's motion asking the court to reject purchase offers for Phoenix Plaza and Sandy Retail Center. Husband also recorded lis pendens against Phoenix Plaza, Sandy Retail Center, and two other properties. On February 3, 2012, the district court found that the lis pendens against Sandy Retail Center was a wrongful lien and declared it void ab initio. Nevertheless, on February 6, 2012, Husband recorded a second lis pendens against Sandy Retail Center, and on February 7, 2012, Husband recorded a second lis pendens against Phoenix Plaza. Thereafter, the district court held a hearing on all six lis pendens and determined that they were all wrongful liens and enjoined Husband from interfering with the sale of Phoenix Plaza.

¶ 7 On March 1, 2012, the district court entered its written findings, order, and judgment relating to the July 26, 2011 evidentiary hearing. The district court held Husband in contempt for failing to comply with the divorce decree's requirement that he pay Wife the amounts he had agreed to in the stipulation,1 entered a $1,912,696 judgment against Husband, and awarded attorney fees to Wife.

¶ 8 Husband did not pay Wife the judgment amount. Accordingly, Wife filed a writ of execution against a condominium owned by Husband. Husband ceased paying the mortgage for the condominium and, because Wife was a co-obligor on the condominium's mortgage, she began to pay the mortgage to protect her credit. On October 2, 2012, the district court ordered Husband to resume paying the mortgage and to reimburse Wife. At a hearing on January 22, 2013, the court reiterated its earlier order. And in a February 13, 2013 court order, the court renewed its direction to Husband to pay the condominium mortgage and the amounts owed to Wife. Finally, on April 9, 2013, the court entered an order to show cause requiring Husband to demonstrate why he should not be held in contempt "for violating the terms of the Order entered February 13, 2013, relative to the hearing conducted January 22, 2013, by failing to reimburse [Wife]" and "by refusing to make the February and March 2013 mortgage payments." After an evidentiary hearing, the district court declined to impose statutory damages for the wrongful liens, declined to find Husband in contempt for filing the lis pendens, and declined "in the interest of justice" to impose further contempt findings or sanctions against Husband. The court also stated that its previous findings of contempt against Husband, including contempt for failing to comply with the Phoenix Plaza provisions of the Stipulation, remained in effect. The court also awarded Wife attorney fees incurred from January 1, 2008, through May 31, 2012.

ANALYSIS

I. The District Court Did Not Impose a Sanction in Excess of the Actual Injury Caused by the Contempt.

¶ 9 Husband first contends that the district court erred by entering the $1,912,696 judgment against him "based on [his] alleged contempt in failing to refinance one piece of marital property." We review a district court's award of sanctions for an abuse of discretion. Goggin v. Goggin, 2013 UT 16, ¶ 26, 299 P.3d 1079.

368 P.3d 152

¶ 10 Husband appears to misunderstand the nature and basis of the district court's judgment. He notes that a court " ‘does not have discretion to impose a sanction beyond the actual injury caused by the contemptuous behavior.’ " (Quoting id. ¶ 52.) Husband asserts that his "failure to file the loan application on Phoenix Plaza did not cause the loss of the property or any damages near $1.9 million" and concludes that "the $1.9 million Judgment entered against [him] as a distribution of marital property, based solely on [his] contempt in failing to apply for the refinancing of Phoenix Plaza, is not proper under the law and should be reversed."

¶ 11 If the facts were as Husband asserts, his argument might have some merit. However, the district court found three reasons to hold Husband in contempt: (1) failure to apply for a refinance within the time frame contemplated by the Stipulation or ever thereafter, as required by the divorce decree; (2) failure to submit an application for a refinance, as required by the divorce decree; and (3) failure to "[make] a single...

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9 practice notes
  • Scott v. Scott, No. 20131122–CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • February 19, 2016
    ...line based upon competing considerations (even when those considerations may be compelling) but to interpret the statute as written.").17 368 P.3d 147¶ 37 In sum, we affirm the district court's overall decision that Wife cohabited with J.O. The court's findings, however, only support a dete......
  • Robinson v. Robinson, No. 20140470–CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • February 19, 2016
    ...2 This piece of satellite litigation orbits Husband and Wife's contentious divorce. See generally Robinson v. Robinson, 2016 UT App 32, 368 P.3d 147 ; Robinson v. Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough, 2016 UT App 34, –––P.3d ––– –; Robinson v. Robinson, 2010 UT App 96, 232 P.3d 1081.¶ 3 After f......
  • Timothy v. Pia, Anderson, Dorius, Reynard & Moss LLC, No. 20150051-CA
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • February 23, 2018
    ..."[w]e review a district court’s interpretation and application of a statute for correctness." Robinson v. Robinson , 2016 UT App 32, ¶ 35, 368 P.3d 147.ANALYSISI.¶10 Creditors first contend that "[a] law firm that receives money into its [trust] account is a transferee as defined by the Uta......
  • Butler v. Mediaport Entm't Inc., 20200465-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • March 24, 2022
    ...we review the district court's interpretation of the contract language for correctness." See Robinson v. Robinson , 2016 UT App 32, ¶ 44, 368 P.3d 147.508 P.3d 626 ANALYSISI. Butler's Appeal¶19 Before ordering the exclusion of all Butler's damages-related evidence, the district court made t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Scott v. Scott, No. 20131122–CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • February 19, 2016
    ...line based upon competing considerations (even when those considerations may be compelling) but to interpret the statute as written.").17 368 P.3d 147¶ 37 In sum, we affirm the district court's overall decision that Wife cohabited with J.O. The court's findings, however, only support a dete......
  • Robinson v. Robinson, No. 20140470–CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • February 19, 2016
    ...2 This piece of satellite litigation orbits Husband and Wife's contentious divorce. See generally Robinson v. Robinson, 2016 UT App 32, 368 P.3d 147 ; Robinson v. Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough, 2016 UT App 34, –––P.3d ––– –; Robinson v. Robinson, 2010 UT App 96, 232 P.3d 1081.¶ 3 After f......
  • Timothy v. Pia, Anderson, Dorius, Reynard & Moss LLC, No. 20150051-CA
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • February 23, 2018
    ..."[w]e review a district court’s interpretation and application of a statute for correctness." Robinson v. Robinson , 2016 UT App 32, ¶ 35, 368 P.3d 147.ANALYSISI.¶10 Creditors first contend that "[a] law firm that receives money into its [trust] account is a transferee as defined by the Uta......
  • Butler v. Mediaport Entm't Inc., 20200465-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • March 24, 2022
    ...we review the district court's interpretation of the contract language for correctness." See Robinson v. Robinson , 2016 UT App 32, ¶ 44, 368 P.3d 147.508 P.3d 626 ANALYSISI. Butler's Appeal¶19 Before ordering the exclusion of all Butler's damages-related evidence, the district court made t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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