Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Shawn Bailey sued several parties, including Peritus I Assets Management, LLC (Peritus), for claims allegedly arising out of his employment at American Medical File, Inc. (AMF), doing business as OnFile. Bailey alleged claims for breach of his employment contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Peritus moved to dismiss Bailey’s claim for intentional infliction of and the district court granted the motion on the basis that Bailey had not alleged conduct that was extreme and outrageous. Peritus thereafter moved for summary judgment on Bailey’s breach of contract claim, contending the statute of frauds rendered it unenforceable. In response, Bailey moved to amend his complaint in an effort to bypass the statute of frauds. The district court denied Bailey leave to amend and granted Peritus summary judgment, finding the statute of frauds dispositive. Bailey appealed the denial of leave to amend and grant of summary judgment in favor of Peritus. The Idaho Supreme Court found the district court erred by finding the statute of frauds barred Bailey’s breach of contract claim against Peritus, “[Bailey’s] lone allegation does not vitiate the thrust of Bailey’s complaint to somehow change this case from one alleging principal liability to one alleging collateral liability.” The Court’s conclusion that the statute of frauds did not apply to Bailey’s claim for breach of contract against Peritus as alleged in his initial complaint mooted any need for Bailey to allege statute of frauds exceptions, and the Supreme Court did not address that issue. View "Bailey v. Peritus I Assets Management" on Justia Law

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Perry Krinitt, Sr. appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the State of Idaho and the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). Perry Krinitt, Jr. (“Perry”) was a pilot for Leading Edge Aviation. He died when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in Kamiah, Idaho. Perry was flying IDFG employees Larry Bennett and Danielle Schiff to conduct a fish survey on the Selway River. Bennett and Schiff also died in the crash. An investigation revealed that the accident was caused when a clipboard struck the tail rotor: one of the passengers became sick and opened the helicopter door, dropping the clipboard in the process. Krinitt filed a wrongful death suit based in negligence seeking damages against IDFG for Perry’s death. IDFG did not assert statutory immunity under Idaho’s Worker’s Compensation Act as a defense. IDFG moved for summary judgment on grounds that Krinitt could not prove negligence. The district court ruled that IDFG was a statutory employer under the Idaho Worker’s Compensation Act and, consequently, IDFG was entitled to immunity from actions based on the work-related death of Perry. Krinitt appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Krinitt v. Idaho Dept of Fish & Game" on Justia Law

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Appellants Ronald and Margaret Swafford challenged a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondent Huntsman Springs, Inc. The action stemmed from the Swaffords’ claim that Huntsman Springs essentially cut off their property from the development by building a park and planting trees between their lot and the nearby street and development, and in doing so: (1) breached a contract; (2) breached an express warranty; (3) breached their duty of good faith and fair dealing; (4) violated the Idaho Consumer Protection Act; and (5) made false representations. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Huntsman Springs after concluding that all of the Swaffords’ claims were barred by the applicable statutes of limitation. The crux of the Swaffords’ action is that Huntsman Springs breached the Contract by failing to develop the surrounding area in conformance with the Master Plan of the development, i.e., by constructing the park that separated their property from the rest of the development. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Master Plan was not incorporated or referenced by the Swaffords' Contract; therefore, it did not contractually obligate Huntsman Springs. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Huntsman Springs. View "Swafford v. Huntsman Springs" on Justia Law

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Ashley Palmer (Palmer) and Stephen Palmer appealed a district court’s order granting Lisa Ellefson’s motion for a new trial under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a)(6). Ellefson was involved in an automobile accident caused by Palmer. A jury found that Ellefson was not injured in the accident. However, the district court determined that the jury verdict of “no injury” was against the clear weight of evidence and granted a new trial subject to an additur in the amount of $50,000. On appeal, Palmer argued that the district court abused its discretion in granting the new trial and in setting additur at $50,000. Finding no such error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ellefson v. Palmer" on Justia Law

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This case was previously before the Idaho Supreme Court in In Matter of Doe (2016-14), 389 P.3d 141 (2016). There, the Court vacated the judgment terminating Jane Doe’s parental rights to her son M.R. and remanded the case for further findings of fact and conclusions of law. On remand, the magistrate court again terminated Doe’s parental rights. The magistrate court found that M.R. was neglected as defined by Idaho Code sections 16-2002(3)(a) and 16-2002(3)(b) and that Doe’s compliance with her case plan was not impossible. Doe timely appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "H & W v. Jane Doe (2017-3)" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the modification of a default judgment requiring that the parents of a child rotate custody of their three-year-old child every three weeks. The father lived in Blackfoot; the mother lived out of state in Oceanside, California (913 miles away). The Idaho Supreme Court held that the magistrate court abused its discretion in ordering that custody rotation. In addition, the mother had moved to modify the judgment by default, but did not move to set aside the entry of default. The Supreme Court held that the father waived the default by litigating the motion to modify. View "Martinez v. Carrasco" on Justia Law

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This appeal originated from a claim for attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-117. The district court held that Hauser Lake Rod and Gun Club, Inc. was not entitled to attorney fees under section 12-117 because, even though it had prevailed against the City of Hauser in a code violation dispute, the administrative tribunal that reviewed the dispute was staffed with both County and City officials. According to the district court, section 12-117’s definition of “political subdivision” does not include administrative review tribunals staffed with officials from multiple governmental entities. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erroneously interpreted Idaho Code section 12-117 by concluding the Joint Board was not a “political subdivision:” the decision of the Board of County Commissioners was the act of a political subdivision. The statutory definition of a political subdivision expressly included counties. "As with any corporate body, a county may only act through its human agents. Under Idaho law, those agents are the Board because a county’s 'powers can only be exercised by the board of county commissioners, or by agents and officers acting under their authority, or authority of law.'" View "Hauser Lake Rod & Gun Club v. City of Hauser" on Justia Law

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This was a legal malpractice case that addressed the statute of limitations applicable to professional malpractice claims, how a statute of limitations is calculated when the last day for filing a complaint falls on a Sunday, and whether expert testimony is necessary to establish the prima facie elements of legal malpractice. Plaintiff-appellant Christina Greenfield hired defendant-respondent Ian Smith to represent her in a civil suit against her neighbors. While the suit was pending, Greenfield was charged criminally with malicious injury to the Wurmlingers’ property. Greenfield retained Smith to represent her in the criminal matter. Greenfield was acquitted of the criminal charges. In the civil case, Smith successfully moved to withdraw from representing Greenfield because the attorney-client relationship had broken down to the point where he was no longer able to represent her. Greenfield represented herself at trial, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the neighbors. Greenfield sued Smith for malpractice, alleging, among other things, that he failed to complete discovery, failed to file a motion for summary judgment on the Wurmlingers’ counterclaim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, failed to amend the complaint to include additional causes of action for abuse of process, slander and libel, failed to file a timely motion for protective order to safeguard the privacy of her medical records, missed several important deadlines, and made no attempt to get the criminal charges dismissed for lack of evidence. Smith filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Greenfield’s claims were time barred and that she could not prove the prima facie elements of legal malpractice because she failed to designate any expert witnesses. Greenfield opposed the motion by filing a responsive brief and her own affidavit setting forth the allegations she claimed supported her malpractice claim, but did not file any expert affidavits. Greenfield argued that her complaint was timely and that no expert witness was required to prove her case. The district court granted Smith’s motion. Greenfield appealed. Though the Idaho Supreme Court found that the district court miscalculated the filing deadline for Greenfield’s civil matter claims (for determining whether her claims were time barred), Greenfield was unable to meet her burdens of proof to support her claims. Accordingly, the Court affirmed judgment in favor of Smith. View "Greenfield v. Smith" on Justia Law

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After review of the documents and affidavits proffered in support of Plaintiff Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC’s (“PRA”) position, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded they did not contain adequate foundation and were not admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule. PRA sued Defendant Lloyd MacDonald for an amount owed on a Citibank credit card account. MacDonald filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that PRA did not have standing to bring this action because it could not prove that the debt had been assigned by Citibank to PRA. MacDonald objected to the evidence PRA submitted to support its position, arguing that the evidence was inadmissible hearsay and lacked adequate foundation. The magistrate court overruled MacDonald’s objections and granted summary judgment in favor of PRA. MacDonald appealed to the district court. The district court affirmed the magistrate court’s decision. The Supreme Court found that even the catch-all exception to the hearsay rule could not be used to admit some of the documents. The decision to grant summary judgment in favor of PRA was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Portfolio Recovery Assoc v. MacDonald" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court did not err when it found that the Church did not have a special relationship with Henrie such that it had an affirmative duty to control or protect him, nor was there any issue of fact as to whether the Church had a general duty to prevent Henrie's injury. This case arose out of injuries suffered by Bryan Henrie while he was participating in a community service event organized by the Mormon Helping Hands (“Helping Hands”), a priesthood-directed program run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”). Henrie argued on appeal that the district court erred when it dismissed his tort claim on summary judgment. Henrie was assigned to work with a crew felling burned trees and rolling or throwing the wood down an embankment on the property to be hauled away later. Later that day, Henrie was attempting to throw a tree stump down the embankment when it caught on his smock. He was pulled down the embankment by the stump, severely injuring his right knee in the process. Henrie asserted that “[a]t the very least, Defendant had a duty not to supply Plaintiff with gear or clothing that would put him or his bodily safety in danger or ultimately harm him . . . Defendant breached this duty of care.” He further asserted that “Defendant owed a duty to Plaintiff to use reasonable care in nominating, training, and supervising any and all of the clean-up organizers and volunteers, including those who spoke with and directed Plaintiff.” The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Church. View "Henrie v. Church of Latter-Day Saints" on Justia Law