Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court – Civil

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This appeal arose from a lawsuit brought by a contractor, Michael Kelly against his former client, Pamela Wagner, alleging nonpayment of amounts due to him for the performance of construction work. The district court found in favor of Kelly and awarded him a total judgment of $13,762.54 ($4,694.64 of damages and $9,067.90 of prejudgment interest). On appeal, Wagner argued that the district court erred in finding that Kelly was owed for the construction work. She further argued that the district court erred in awarding prejudgment interest to Kelly. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Kelly v. Wagner" on Justia Law

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In 2011, John Wyman first visited Julie L. Scott, P.A., to address a lesion he had discovered on his left heel. P.A. Scott diagnosed the lesion as an infected wart, prescribed antibiotic ointment, and instructed John to return for a follow-up appointment, scheduled for January 5, 2012. For reasons unclear, John did not attend the follow-up appointment. John returned to see P.A. Scott on April 19, 2012, because his lesion did not improve. Still believing the lesion was an infected wart, P.A. Scott froze it off during that appointment. She again instructed John to return for a follow-up appointment, scheduled for May 10, 2012. For reasons unclear, John did not attend the follow-up appointment. He never again returned to see P.A. Scott. John’s lesion, however, failed to improve. It would later be diagnosed as a stage IIIC malignant melanoma tumor, and not a wart. Nearly two years after the date of the biopsy, on August 28, 2014, the Wymans filed a pre-litigation screening application with the Idaho State Board of Medicine. On September 5, 2014, the Wymans lodged a complaint in district court, alleging medical malpractice claims against P.A. Scott and her employer, Center for Lifetime Health, LLC, for their alleged failure to perform a biopsy that would have revealed cancer. In the following medical malpractice suit against Scott, her employer and the hospital, the district court concluded a two-year statute of limitations barred the Wymans' claims. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wyman v. Eck" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from an Industrial Commission (the Commission) order denying medical care benefits to Channel Rish. Rish worked as a cashier at Home Depot. While working on October 30, 2005, Rish slipped on a floor mat and injured her right knee. The injury ultimately required Rish to undergo three knee surgeries, which Dr. Casey Huntsman performed in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Roughly three months after Rish’s third surgery, Dr. Huntsman concluded Rish had achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI). Dr. Huntsman, however, further noted that Rish “definitely needs . . . continued pain management” with Dr. Holly Zoe. To that end, Rish visited Dr. Zoe for pain management treatment. Respondents remained skeptical as to Rish’s continued medical care with Dr. Zoe. Rish filed a worker’s compensation complaint to seek past and future disability benefits and medical care. Respondents answered and conceded Rish was entitled to the already-paid disability benefits and medical care, but Respondents disputed whether she was entitled to additional disability benefits and medical care. After a hearing, the Commission held in Respondents’ favor. The Commission noted that Rish did not timely raise the issue of disability benefits, but concluded Rish was nevertheless entitled to no additional disability benefits. Further, the Commission concluded Rish was entitled to no additional medical care benefits because the medical care Rish received after August 9, 2007 (the date when Dr. Huntsman deemed her at MMI) was unreasonable. Rish appealed. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the Commission erred in holding that the medical care Rish received after August 9, 2007 was unreasonable. As such, the Court vacated the Commission’s denial of medical care benefits and remanded for further proceedings. View "Rish v. Home Depot" on Justia Law

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Gordon Paving Company, Inc., Northwest Sand & Gravel, Inc., Blackrock Land Holdings, LLC (collectively, “Gordon Paving”), Brandon Hansen, an individual, Brian Hansen, an individual, Carol Hansen GPC Nevada Trust, Craig Hansen GPC Nevada Trust, Canyon Equipment and Truck Service, Inc., and Doe Entities owned by Brian, Brandon, and Craig Hansen (collectively “Guarantors”) appealed the district court’s denial of their motion to set aside default in a breach of personal guarantee action brought by AgStar Financial Services, ACA (“AgStar”). Between 2007 and 2008, Gordon Paving borrowed $10 million from AgStar. In addition to real and personal property collateral, the indebtedness was secured by separate guarantee agreements executed by Guarantors. By 2012, Gordon Paving had defaulted and AgStar sued for foreclosure. A year later, the district court entered a Judgment and Decree of Foreclosure against Gordon Paving. AgStar purchased the real property collateral at a foreclosure sale. AgStar moved for entry of a deficiency judgment for the difference between the unpaid judgment as of the time of the sale and its credit bids for the real property. The district court denied AgStar’s motion for a deficiency judgment, finding that the reasonable value of the properties that AgStar purchased by credit bids was nearly two million dollars greater than Gordon Paving’s indebtedness. In an Opinion issued in early 2017, the Idaho Supreme Court held that Gordon Paving’s indebtedness to AgStar had been fully satisfied and discharged. AgStar brought the present action against Guarantors, bringing a number of theories, including breach of personal guarantee. The district court ultimately entered a judgment against Guarantors on the cause of action based on breach of their personal guarantees. AgStar agreed to dismiss the other claims with prejudice because the judgment on the guarantees represented the total remaining amount due on Gordon Paving’s indebtedness. AgStar moved for an award of attorney fees and costs, which was granted. Guarantors timely appealed, but finding no error in defaulting the Guarantors, and in the award of fees and costs, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Agstar Financial v. Gordon Paving Co, Inc." on Justia Law

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AgStar Financial Services, ACA (AgStar) appealed the district court’s award of attorney fees to Northwest Sand & Gravel, Inc., Gordon Paving Company, Inc., and Blackrock Land Holdings, LLC (collectively, Gordon Paving), following a deficiency proceeding. Gordon Paving’s cross-appeal asserted that the district court erred in three respects: (1) by permitting AgStar to sell personal property serving as collateral for Gordon Paving’s debt to AgStar after the district court determined that AgStar was not entitled to a deficiency judgment; (2) by awarding AgStar post-judgment attorney fees; and (3) allowing AgStar’s claim of exemption to a royalty check. AgStar moved the district court for an order directing Gordon Paving to transfer the titles of various vehicles that Gordon Paving had pledged as collateral for certain bond obligations to AgStar, and for a comfort order allowing AgStar to sell the personal property collateral at auction. Gordon Paving opposed AgStar’s motion, arguing that because the district court had already determined that AgStar had received real property worth more than the debt owed under the foreclosure judgment and denied AgStar a deficiency judgment, AgStar was estopped from selling any further collateral because Gordon Paving’s debt was extinguished. Gordon Paving moved for an award of attorney fees, asserting that, as the prevailing party in the deficiency proceeding, it was entitled to attorney fees. AgStar opposed Gordon Paving’s request for attorney fees. After review, the Supreme Court found: (1) the district court abused its discretion when it awarded attorney fees without first determining the prevailing party in the entire action; (2) the district court did not err when it held a bond agreement did not bar Gordon Paving from being awarded attorney fees; (3) the district court erred when it allowed AgStar to continue to sell the personal property collateral to satisfy the foreclosure judgment. The Court did not reach the issue of the district court’s award of post-judgment attorney fees to AgStar because Gordon Paving did not support its claim with sufficient argument or authority. As such, the Court reversed the district court’s order allowing AgStar to sell the personal property collateral to satisfy the foreclosure judgment; vacated the judgment awarding attorney fees and costs to Gordon Paving; and remanded for the district court to determine attorney fee and cost issues and for further proceedings. View "Agstar Financial v. NW Sand & Gravel" on Justia Law

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The Watkins Company, LLC appealed the award of attorney fees to the Estate of Michael Storms (Storms) and Brownstone Companies, Inc. (Brownstone). Watkins brought this action in 2010 seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) and damages resulting from a breach of contract. Watkins was granted a TRO which was secured by a $10,000 bond. Storms and Brownstone counterclaimed, seeking damages resulting from the TRO. After a seven day bench trial, Watkins was awarded $699.64 and Storms and Brownstone were awarded $17,015.88; however, Storms and Brownstone’s award was limited to the bond amount of $10,000. Storms and Brownstone requested that they be awarded attorney fees of $80,126.50. Following a hearing, the district court awarded Storms and Brownstone 90% of their requested attorney fees, finding that 10% of their attorney fees were incurred pursuing their counterclaim and were unrecoverable. Watkins argued on appeal that the district court’s finding that 90% of Storms and Brownstone’s attorney fees were attributable to defending the breach of contract claim was not supported by substantial and competent evidence. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Watkins Co. v. Estate of Michael Storms" on Justia Law

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Auto Alley, LLC, Calvin Visser, and Vicki Visser appealed a district court order granting a writ of possession and quieting title to certain real property in Douglas Visser. Douglas was awarded the property in his divorce from Vicki in 2005. A dispute subsequently arose and in February of 2014, the parties entered into a stipulation that resulted in Vicki being permitted to continue to occupy part of the property known as “Lot 2.” A stipulated judgment was entered which provided that Douglas would convey Lot 2 to Vicki if she completely performed a number of specific obligations within specified time frames. When Vicki failed to completely perform those obligations, Douglas brought the instant motion to enforce the judgment and the district court granted his motion. Vicki appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed and awarded Douglas attorney fees on appeal. View "Visser v. Auto Alley, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case was an appeal of a judgment: (1) denying recovery on an alleged oral promise to grant the Plaintiffs a right of first refusal with respect to a parcel of real property they were leasing; (2) denying recovery on an alleged oral promise to purchase the Plaintiffs’ buildings that were located on that property; and (3) finding that the Plaintiffs were guilty of unlawful detainer. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Nicholson v. Coeur d'Alene Placer Mining Corp" on Justia Law

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Claimant Gary Davis, employer Hammack Management, Inc., surety the Idaho State Insurance Fund, and the Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (“ISIF”) entered into a compensation agreement (“Stipulation”). The parties agreed that Claimant became totally and permanently disabled based on the combined effects of preexisting impairments and a workplace injury that occurred in 2004. The Stipulation outlined each party’s financial obligations to Claimant, including a credit to Employer for permanent partial impairment benefits previously paid. The Idaho Industrial Commission (“Commission”) approved the Stipulation. Subsequently, the Idaho Supreme Court issued its decision in “Corgatelli v. Steel West, Inc.,” (335 P.3d 1150 (2014)), prohibiting such a credit. Claimant then sought a declaratory ruling that the credit in the Stipulation was void. The Commission issued an order stating that the Stipulation was binding as written and subsequently denied Claimant’s motion for reconsideration. Claimant appealed. The Supreme Court concluded the credit in the Stipulation was invalid and the Commission’s order approving the Stipulation was void. The Court affirmed the Industrial Commission’s holding that it had subject matter jurisdiction over the Claimant’s petition for declaratory ruling but reversed its order upholding the Stipulation and the credit. View "Davis v. Hammack Mgmt." on Justia Law

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Appellants, Consolidated Farms LLC, dba Elk Mountain Farms (“Employer”), and Indemnity Insurance Company of North America, appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission’s finding that Respondent Rodrigo Rodriguez was totally and permanently disabled under the odd-lot doctrine. In addition to his work for the Employer’s farm in irrigation, Rodriguez also helped operate and maintain the machinery used in the harvesting process. Rodriguez, who was right handed, was attempting to clear dirt and other debris from a conveyor belt using a cutting hook. As Rodriguez reached into the machine, the conveyor belt sped up, catching his arm. The machine crushed Rodriguez’s right hand and forearm, breaking numerous bones and causing extensive damage to his nerves and tendons. Following his injury, Rodriguez underwent six surgeries and extensive physical therapy in order to regain limited use of his arm. Rodriguez’s employment was seasonal. Each year he was required to sign a waiver acknowledging that his employment was “Temporary” rather than “Permanent” and that his employment would end at the conclusion of the growing season. For 21 years Rodriguez was rehired by Employer at the beginning of each season. For many of these seasons he was part of the “Core Group” of employees. Rodriguez filed a disability/medical benefits workers compensation complaint with the Idaho Industrial Commission. The Commission issued its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order. It concluded that Rodriguez had suffered a disability of 57% whole person and was permanently disabled under the futility prong of the odd-lot doctrine. The Employer appealed. Finding no reversible error in the Commission’s decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Rodriguez v. Consolidated Farms, LLC" on Justia Law