Lester v. Zarbee's et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER Denying 22 Motion to Appoint Conservator and to Approve a Settlement Agreement. Signed by Judge Jill N. Parrish on 10/4/17. (dla)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF UTAH
C.L., by and through WHITNEY LESTER,
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
DENYING MOTION TO APPOINT
CONSERVATOR AND TO APPROVE A
ZARBEE’S, INC. and TARGET
Civil No.: 2:16-cv-01192-JNP-EJF
Judge Jill N. Parrish
Whitney Lester and defendants Zarbee’s Inc. and Target Corporation filed a joint motion
to (1) appoint Ms. Lester as a conservator of her son, C.L., and (2) approve the settlement
agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant in this lawsuit. [Docket 22]. The court
DENIES the motion.
The procedures for appointing a conservator for a minor in Utah are detailed in Utah
Code sections 75-5-401 to -433. An interested person may file a formal petition to appoint a
conservator, which must contain certain statutorily mandated information and state the reason
why the appointment is necessary. UTAH CODE § 75-5-404. Notice of the petition must be
served personally upon an unmarried minor’s parents as well as any individuals who have filed a
request for notice. Id. § 75-5-405. The proper venue for such a petition is in the county where the
person to be protected resides. Id. § 75-5-403.
This court may not grant the motion to appoint a conservator filed by Ms. Lester and
joined by Zarbee’s and Target because Utah’s conservator statutes clearly do not contemplate the
appointment of a conservator by way of a motion filed in a civil lawsuit in which the minor to be
protected happens to be the plaintiff. In Utah, a petition to appoint a conservator is an
independent proceeding that must be initiated by filing a formal petition that must be served
upon statutorily mandated parties. Moreover, this court is not the proper venue for such a
petition. Setting aside the question of whether a federal court would have jurisdiction to
adjudicate an original proceeding to appoint a conservator under Utah law, the conservator
statutes provide that the proper venue for such a proceeding is the county where the person to be
protected resides. Id. In this case, Ms. Lester has identified Utah County as the county where
C.L. resides. [Docket 22, p.2]. A petition must be filed in that county. The court therefore denies
the joint motion to appoint Ms. Lester as a conservator of C.L. The court also denies the parties’
joint request for this court to review and approve the proposed settlement agreement. The court
ordered the parties to provide authority or argument for the proposition that the court should
conduct such a review. Ms. Lester has not provided any authority suggesting that this court
should review the agreement. She argues that a judicial determination that she is acting
reasonably in her role as conservator is preferred. But she has not yet been appointed as a
conservator, and to the extent that judicial oversight of any conservatorship is requested, the
proper court to address such a request would be the court that appoints the conservator.
SIGNED October 4, 2017.
JILL N. PARRISH
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
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