Penunuri v Sundance Partners, Ltd.

Penunuri sought review of the Utah Court of Appeals decision affirming summary judgment to Sundance on her gross negligence claim and awarding Sundance deposition costs. The Court affirmed. It first held the Court of Appeals had correctly interpreted court precedent to allow summary judgment in a gross negligence case upon a showing that no reasonable mind could conclude gross negligence occurred even though some Court precedent appears to require that the standard of care has to be fixed by law and gross negligence is not fixed by law because requiring a fixed by law showing is inconsistent with the precedent the cases stating the requirement were based on and it is inconsistent with Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The Court repudiated the precedent in question and noted failure to do so would allow jury trials when gross negligence cannot be proven and this is an inefficient method of handling gross negligence cases. It held summary judgment was proper here as Penunuri failed to present evidence that the failure to close the gaps between the horses on the trail increased the risks to Penunuri’s daughter and thus provided no basis for a factfinder to find Sundance and its employees were consciously indifferent to risk. It finally held that the district court used the correct approach in awarding deposition costs in finding the depositions were taken in good faith and appeared to be essential to development of the case and set out in its order analysis demonstrating how the depositions in question were necessary to develop the case.