ProMax Development Corp. v. Raile
In ProMax Development Corp. v. Raile, 000 UT 4, 998 P.2d 254, the Court held that "a trial court must determine the amount of attorney fees awardable to a party before the judgment becomes final for the purpose of an appeal under Utah Rule of Appellate Procedure 3."
In that case, the trial court, having found in favor of the defendants after a bench trial, amended its judgment twice.
The first amendment, entered two months after the original judgment, awarded attorney fees and court costs to the defendants; the second amendment increased the amount of attorney fees awarded, without mentioning costs.
Four days after the court entered the second order amending the judgment, the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal, which the defendants challenged as untimely.
The Court refused to dismiss the plaintiff's appeal as untimely.
Finding that both amendments were "amendments in a 'material matter,'" the Court recognized that they "were materially different from the amendment made in Neilson v. Gurley, where the modification or amendment was to recite that the prevailing party was entitled to court costs."
The Court further explained as follows:
"Where attorney fees are awarded to a party, . . . there is no final judgment for the purposes of appeal until the amount of the fees has been ascertained and granted. However, when, as in Neilson, no attorney fees are involved but only court costs, which are usually small statutory amounts or liquidated amounts, such costs can be added later to a judgment without affecting its finality."