Gray v. Oxford Worldwide Grp., Inc.

2006 UT App 241, 139 P.3d 267

 

RULE:

When landlords challenge a trial court's findings of fact and the sufficiency of the evidence, they also must marshal the evidence in support of the findings and then demonstrate that, despite this evidence, the trial court's findings are so lacking in support as to be against the clear weight of the evidence. Where an appellant fails to so marshal the evidence, reviewing courts assume that all findings are adequately supported by the record, and the courts need not consider the challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. 

FACTS:

The tenant and the landlords entered into a lease wherein the tenant agreed to lease certain property from the landlords. The tenant rented the premises for the purpose of running a language training school that catered primarily to Latino members of a church. However, almost immediately upon entering the premises, the tenant began having problems with the Landlords' agent, the property manager. The property manager exhibited ethnic prejudice in part by disparaging Latinos. The tenant vacated the premises and the landlords sued for breach of the lease. The tenant counterclaimed and the trial court found in favor of the tenant. The court affirmed on appeal, stating that the property manager interfered with the tenant's right of possession and enjoyment of the premises and that the interference was so substantial and injurious that it rendered the premises unsuitable for use as a school catering to Latino members of the church.

ISSUE:

Did the trial court err in determining that the Landlords' actions were of such a substantial nature and so injurious to the Tenant as to deprive the Tenant of its use of the Premises?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The trial court did not err in determining that the Landlords' actions were of such a substantial nature and so injurious to the Tenant as to deprive the Tenant of its use of the Premises, and there is more than enough evidence to support the trial court's determination that the Tenant was constructively evicted. The Tenant leased the Premises to run a language training school primarily catering to Latino members of the LDS Church. However, the Property Manager exhibited ethnic prejudice against Latinos by disparaging Latinos in general, using ethnic slurs, and yelling and swearing at the Tenant. Furthermore, the Property Manager called the police to lodge a complaint regarding underage drinking at a fiesta that the Tenant sponsored on the Premises, despite the fact that she had evidence to the contrary. Indeed, the Tenant had obtained permission from the Landlords to have the fiesta, and Dr. Madrigal went to great lengths only four days before the fiesta to assure the Property Manager that no drinking, much less underage drinking, would occur.

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