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Richard Barton Enterprises v. Tsern
Utah Supreme Court
928 P.2d 368 (1996)
Barton (plaintiff) leased a commercial building from Tsern (defendant). The lease agreement required Tsern to repair a leaky roof and restore a freight elevator to working order. Over a period of several months, Tsern responded to demands from Barton and made limited repairs to the freight elevator. The elevator did not operate at all during certain periods of the tenancy. When a city inspector order the elevator shut down for safety violations, Tsern refused to make further expenditures for repairs. Barton and Tsern corresponded regarding rent abatement, but never came to mutual agreement about the terms of rent abatement. Barton made partial rent payment for two months and filed suit seeking judgment declaring that Tsern had a legal obligation to repair the elevator. Tsern counterclaimed with a demand for full payment of rent or eviction. The trial court ruled in favor of Barton and entered judgment against Tsern for the cost of repairing the elevator. The trial court also issued a determination of the amount of rent abatement to which Barton was entitled. Tsern appealed the trial court’s conclusion that the inoperability of the elevator entitled Barton to rent abatement and its determination of the amount of abatement to which Barton was entitled. Barton cross-appealed as to the amount of rent abatement and attorney fees awarded by the trial court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, C.J.)
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