Stringam v. Myers

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Stringam v. Myers , Case No. 20000179-CA , Filed April 12, 2001 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS


Jeannie Stringam,
Appellee and Cross-appellant,


Morris Myers, Erin M. Stovall
aka Erin M. Bisner Stovall,
and John Patrick Stovall,
Appellant and Cross-appellee.

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 20000179-CA

April 12, 2001 2001 UT App 116 -----

Fourth District, Provo Department
The Honorable Guy R. Burningham

Morris Myers, Midvale, Appellant Pro Se
"Trey" A.R. Dayes, III, and C. Val Morley, Pleasant Grove, for Appellee


Before Judges Greenwood, Jackson, and Davis.

JACKSON, Associate Presiding Judge:

Morris Myers (Myers), raises several issues on appeal from the trial court's final judgment and addendum to final judgment and order denying his post-trial motions. "It is well established that a reviewing court will not address arguments that are not adequately briefed." State v. Thomas, 961 P.2d 299, 304 (Utah 1998). Further, Rule 24 of the Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure provides that the argument in an appellant's brief "shall contain the contentions and reasons of the appellant with respect to the issues presented, . . . with citations to the authorities, statutes, and parts of the record relied on." Utah R. App. P. 24(a)(9). Myers "fails to cite relevant legal authority or provide any meaningful analysis regarding" any of his issues. State v. Shepherd, 1999 UT App 305,¶27, 989 P.2d 503. The requirements of Rule 24 accord with our long-held position that this court "'is not simply a depository in which the appealing party may dump the burden of argument and research.'" Thomas, 961 P.2d at 305 (quoting State v. Bishop, 753 P.2d 439, 450 (Utah 1988)). Thus, we decline to address any of Myers's arguments.

We now turn to the issues Stringam raises in her cross-appeal. First, Stringam challenges the trial court's ruling that set the balloon payment at $109,100.00. Stringam argues that under Utah Code Ann. § 78-27-3 (1996), Myers should be bound to Stringam's first offer of $104,211.74. Section 78-27-3 states: The person to whom a tender is made must, at the time, specify any objection he may have to the money, instrument or property, or he is deemed to have waived it; and, if the objection is to the amount of money, the terms of the instrument or the amount or kind of property, he must specify the amounts, terms or kind which he requires, or be precluded from objection afterwards. Utah Code Ann. § 78-27-3 (1996) (emphasis added).

Stringam contends that, because Myers failed to specify an alternate amount for the balloon payment when presented with Stringam's first offer of $104,211.74, Myers is precluded from objecting to it, and should now be bound to that amount.

The trial court, in the addendum to its memorandum decision, applied section 78-27-3, stating: [T]he Court finds that Mr. Myers is precluded from objecting to the propriety of the tender because he failed to specify the amount necessary to make tender sufficient.
However the amount of the tender was inadequate, with Ms. Stringam offering tender of an amount clearly insufficient. There is no waiver where a full tender is not made. Therefore Mr. Myers is precluded under [section 78-27-3] from making the claim that Ms. Stringam made no tender, but Ms. Stringam is precluded from binding Mr. Myers to the tendered amount where that amount and her fulfillment of the contract is in dispute. (Emphasis added.)

Stringam asserts that the statutory bar to Myers's objection forces Myers to accept the first offer, rather than simply precluding Myers from claiming that Stringam made no tender. Stringam cites First Security Bank of Utah, N.A., v. Maxwell, 659 P.2d 1078 (Utah 1983) as support for this proposition. However, Maxwell applies section 78-27-3 "to avoid forfeiture," rather than to bind the seller to the amount of the buyer's first tender. See First Security Bank of Utah, N.A., v. Maxwell, 659 P.2d 1078, 1082 (Utah 1983). Thus, the trial court's ruling is consistent with how objection to tender has been interpreted by Utah courts. See Madsen v. Anderson, 667, P.2d 44, 47 (Utah 1983); Adair v. Bracken, 745 P.2d 849, 852-53 (Utah Ct. App. 1987). Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's ruling as to the effect of section 78-27-3.

Finally, Stringam challenges the amount of attorney fees she was awarded by the trial court "because the district court reduced the fees without making a finding of unreasonableness." Stringam represents that the trial court originally awarded $12,000 in attorney fees in its final order and judgment, but subsequently increased the award, and later "arbitrarily" reduced it to $12,000. However, nothing in the record indicates that the court ever awarded more than $12,000 in attorney fees. Indeed, Stringam cites only an unsigned minute entry, which states, "[c]ourt orders all costs and attorney fees are awarded from the date of offer of judgment to the plaintiff. Mr. Morley is allowed to clarify matters discussed in [the] order." "It is well settled that '[a]n unsigned minute entry does not constitute an entry of judgment, nor is it a final judgment for purposes of [appeal].'" Ron Shepherd Ins., Inc. v. Shields, 882 P.2d 650, 653 (Utah 1994) (alteration in original); see also South Salt Lake v. Burton, 718 P.2d 405, 406 (Utah 1986) (per curiam) (stating that an unsigned minute entry is unenforceable).

Even if the minute entry was an enforceable judgment, it does not grant a greater award. Moreover, the trial court allowed Stringam's counsel to "clarify matters discussed in [the] order," and Stringam's counsel prepared orders granting an attorney fees award of $12,000. Thus, the record does not support Stringam's assertion that the trial court arbitrarily reduced the award from some amount greater than $12,000. Accordingly, Stringam's argument that the "trial court committed legal error when it arbitrarily reduced the fee without a finding of unreasonableness" fails.

We affirm both the trial court's final order and judgment and its addendum thereto.

Norman H. Jackson,
Associate Presiding Judge -----


Pamela T Greenwood,
Presiding Judge

James Z. Davis, Judge