Utah Law of the case doctrine
The Utah Court of Appeals held in the case PC Crane v. McQueen Masonry, Inc. 2012 App. 61 at ¶43:
- We recognize that “under the law of the case doctrine, a decision made on an issue during one stage of the case is binding in successive stages of the same litigation.” See Mid‐America Pipeline Co. v. Four‐Four, Inc., 2009 UT 43, ¶ 12, 216 P.3d 352 (internal quotation marks omitted). This doctrine, however, applies only to the parties of the case. The district court is ordinarily “free to reconsider that decision,” either “sua sponte or at the suggestion of one of the parties.” See id. (indicating that “the doctrine of law of the case tracks with . . . Utah Rule of Civil Procedure” 54(b), which allows a court to revise its decision any time prior to the entry of a judgment “‘adjudicating all the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties’” (quoting Utah R. Civ. P. 54(b))). This is true even when a second judge has taken over the case because “the two judges, while different persons, constitute a single judicial office.” Jones & Trevor Mktg., Inc. v. Lowry, 2010 UT App 113, ¶ 14, 233 P.3d 538 (internal quotation marks omitted), cert. granted, 238 P.3d 443 (Utah Aug. 26, 2010) (No. 20100449); see also Macris v. Sculptured Software, Inc., 2001 UT 43, ¶ 30, 24 P.3d 984 (concluding that the law of the case doctrine did not preclude a successor judge from reversing the first judge’s grant of partial summary judgment because the successor judge was “the same judicial officer reconsidering a prior [nonfinal] ruling under rule 54(b)”). Certain exceptions, however, “function only to dictate when the district court has no discretion but rather must reconsider a previously decided, unappealed issue.” See Mid‐America, 2009 UT 43, ¶ 14. One of those exceptions is when new evidence has been presented. See id.