Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Western Properties v. Southern Utah Aviation, Inc. case brief

Western Properties v. Southern Utah Aviation, Inc. case brief summary
776 P.2d 656 (1989)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant sublessor sought review of a decision of the Fifth District Court, Iron County (Utah), which dismissed the sublessor's claims for rent accrued after respondent sublessees' abandonment of the property and for the residual income value of a maintenance building that the sublessees had agreed to construct. The sublessees appealed from a partial summary judgment for the sublessor in the amount of rent accrued up to the date of abandonment.

CASE FACTS
The sublessor leased land and, in turn, subleased part of that land to the sublessees with the covenant that the latter would construct a maintenance building. The sublessees never received site plan approval for the building and abandoned the property. The sublessor brought an action to recover unpaid rent and the value of the building. The trial court granted partial summary judgment, awarding the sublessor the rent accrued up to the time of abandonment. However, the court dismissed the sublessor's claims for post-abandonment rent and the value of the building. The parties filed cross-appeals, and the court affirmed.

DISCUSSION

  • The court held that the sublessees were not excused from their performance of the contract by their alleged ignorance of its terms and, therefore, were liable for the accrued rent. 
  • The court also held that the doctrine of impossibility of performance excused the sublessees from their obligation to have built the maintenance building because they could not have constructed the building without the site plan approval. 
  • The court said that the doctrine of frustration of performance similarly excused the sublessees from their obligation to have continued paying rent.
CONCLUSION
The court affirmed a partial summary judgment for the sublessor for the amount of accrued rent. The court also affirmed the dismissal of the sublessor's claims against the sublessees for rent accrued after abandonment and for the residual income value of a maintenance building that the sublessees had agreed to construct.

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