Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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This appeal involved an Idaho district court’s denial of a jury trial under Rule 39(b) of the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure and the decision to pierce the corporate veil. The dispute stemmed from a transaction between Kym Nelson, who acted on behalf of KDN Management Inc., (“KDN”), and WinCo, Foods, LLC (“WinCo”), for concrete floor work that KDN performed in several WinCo stores. The district court found that KDN had overcharged WinCo for the work, and awarded WinCo $2,929,383.31 in damages, including attorney fees. The district court also held Nelson and two entities associated with her, SealSource International, LLC, and KD3 Flooring LLC, jointly and severally liable for WinCo’s damages. Nelson, SealSource and KD3 argued on appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court that the trial court erred in concluding: (1) Nelson was personally liable for damages relating to this dispute; and (2) that KDN, SealSource and KD3 were alter egos of one another. Nelson and the corporate co-defendants also argued the district court abused its discretion by denying their motion for a jury trial under Rule of Civil Procedure 39(b). Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the judgment and award of attorney fees to WinCo. View "KDN Management, Inc. v. WinCo" on Justia Law

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On July 11, 2013, the Idaho Department of Labor (“IDOL”) mailed an eligibility determination for unemployment benefits (the “2013 determination”) to William Wittkopf. This determination found Wittkopf underreported his wages for several weeks, which resulted in an overpayment in unemployment benefits. As a result, Wittkopf was: (1) ordered to repay the overpayment; (2) ineligible for any unemployment benefits for a fifty-two week period; and (3) assessed a civil penalty. Additionally, Wittkopf was told that he would remain ineligible for unemployment benefits until all amounts were repaid. Pursuant to Idaho Code section 72– 1368(3) the last day for Wittkopf to file a protest to the 2013 determination was July 25, 2013, which he failed to do. IDOL attempted to collect on the 2013 determination over the next year without success. Subsequently in early 2016, Wittkopf filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The debt he owed to the state of Idaho was included in his bankruptcy and was discharged by order of the Bankruptcy Court. In September 2016, Wittkopf began filing new claims for unemployment benefits with IDOL because he worked a seasonal job and was not receiving any income in the winter months. After not receiving benefits for several weeks, Wittkopf called IDOL which informed him he was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he had failed to pay back his overpayment, civil penalty, and interest he owed IDOL, even though those amounts were discharged in bankruptcy. Wittkopf mailed a letter to IDOL protesting the denial of his unemployment benefits. Wittkopf claimed in this letter that he was eligible for unemployment benefits because his bankruptcy discharged any amount he owed to IDOL. An Appeals Examiner construed Wittkopf’s 2016 letter as a protest of the 2013 determination. Two days later the Appeals Examiner issued a written decision finding there was no jurisdiction to hear Wittkopf’s protest because it was not filed within fourteen days of when it was issued on July 25, 2013, as required by Idaho Code section 72-1368. On November 3, 2016, Wittkopf appealed the Appeals Examiner’s decision to the Industrial Commission. On January 27, 2017, the Industrial Commission affirmed the Appeals Examiner’s decision. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Industrial Commission erred in affirming the examiner without having determined first whether: (1) the bankruptcy discharge voided IDOL's 2013 determination; (2) whether the discharge operated as an injunction against any effort to collect, recover or offset the 2013 debt; and if yes, (3) why the Department's denial of current benefits on the basis of the 2013 debt wasn't a violation of the injunction. The matter was remanded back to the Industrial Commission for further proceedings. View "Wittkopf v. Idaho Dept of Labor" on Justia Law

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Both of ten-year-old Jane Doe II’s parents passed away in 2017. A family friend with whom Jane and her mother had been living (“Friend”) petitioned for guardianship of Jane. Jane’s father’s twin sister (“Aunt”) also petitioned for guardianship. During proceedings the magistrate court appointed a local attorney, Auriana Clapp-Younggren (“Clapp-Younggren”), to serve as both the attorney and the guardian ad litem for Jane. After trial the magistrate court followed Clapp-Younggren’s recommendation and awarded temporary guardianship to Friend so that Jane could finish the school year, but appointed Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian. Friend appealed the magistrate court decision. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the magistrate court abused its discretion by failing to conduct a reasonable inquiry into whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian was vacated and the case was remanded so that the magistrate court can conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to a new trial. View "In the Interest of Jane Doe II (under 18)" on Justia Law

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In January 2017, a jury found that an enforceable contract bound Mike Von Jones to pay Safaris Unlimited, LLC, (Safaris) $26,040 for a 2012 big game hunt Jones went on in Zimbabwe, Africa (2012 hunt). After the jury’s verdict, Safaris was awarded attorney fees plus interest on the judgment, bringing the judgment against Jones to $122,984.82. Safaris obtained a writ of execution in June 2017 and attended the sheriff sale as the only bidder. At the sale, Safaris purchased a pending lawsuit arising from Jones’s business venture by making a $2,500 credit bid. Jones was later successful in moving to vacate the sale. Jones appealed three issues from the jury trial: (1) the admission of a handwriting exemplar; (2) certain statements made by the district court concerning the handwriting exemplar; and (3) a jury instruction on agency law. Safaris cross appealed the district court’s decision to vacate the sheriff sale. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined: (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the handwriting exemplar; (2) the district court did not violate Jones’s procedural due process rights by instructing Jones to answer whether he signed a particular document after viewing the exemplar; and (3) the Court did not reach the merits of Jones’s argument that the district court erred by giving jury instruction 13 since Jones failed to object to the instruction below. Thus, the Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Safaris Unlimited v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Ibrahim and Halida Ekic (the Ekics) and the estate of Aldina Ekic appealed district court decisions to grant summary judgment to Geico Indemnity Company (Geico) on their claims of breach of contract, misrepresentations in the inducement, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory estoppel and to award attorney fees to Geico. Aldina was killed in an automobile accident caused by the negligence of a third party. The Ekics recovered the total policy proceeds of $25,000 from the third party’s insurance carrier. The Ekics demanded payment from Geico for the payment of $25,000 under Aldina’s underinsured motorist policy. Geico refused to issue a payment under the language of the policy. The Ekics filed suit. Sometime after Geico filed an answer, Geico filed a motion for summary judgment with a supporting affidavit from Geico’s counsel that included a copy of the Ekics’ answers to several interrogatories, a copy of Aldina’s Geico policy, and the vehicle collision report for the accident involving Aldina and the third party. The district court granted summary judgment for Geico on each of these claims. The Ekics then amended their complaint, with the permission of the district court, to add the additional claim of promissory estoppel and Geico filed an amended answer. Counsel for Geico advised the district court during a scheduling conference that Geico would be filing a motion for summary judgment on the additional claim. At the hearing, the district court granted Geico’s motion for summary judgment because the court found that “even viewing all the facts in light most favorable to the Plaintiff, there was no admissible evidence to support” their claim. The Ekics filed a motion to set aside the judgment which was denied by the district court. Geico requested attorney fees and the district court awarded them pursuant to Idaho Code section 41- 1839(4). The Ekics argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Geico, but finding no such error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgments. View "Ekic v. Geico" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of Michael and Sue Clarke’s attempted recovery of earlier financial losses sustained due to the fraudulent investment practices of Zach Latimer. After obtaining a judgment against Latimer, the Clarkes filed a separate action against his wife, Holly Latimer, alleging that the Latimers engaged in transfers of funds that violated the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. The district court found in favor of the Clarkes’ claim after a bench trial but ruled that there was no prevailing party and denied the Clarkes’ request for attorney’s fees and costs. The court also ordered the Clarkes to file a partial satisfaction of judgment in their separate action against Zach and denied their post-trial motion for prejudgment interest. The Clarkes challenged each of these determinations, and sought additional fees and costs for their appeal. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the Clarkes should have been found to be the prevailing party, and the district court erred by ordering the Clarkes to file a partial satisfaction of their judgment in their case against Zach Latimer. The district court did not, however, abuse its discretion by denying the Clarkes' prejudgment interest or attorney's fees, however, they were entitled to costs. View "Clarke v. Latimer" on Justia Law

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This consolidated appeal involved the validity of two judgments and their subsequent renewals obtained by Sharon Smith, n/k/a Sharon Bergmann (Sharon) against Vernon Smith (Vernon). The judgments remained unsatisfied, and Sharon was granted renewals of the judgments every five years as required by the applicable statute. In 2014, Sharon sought to collect on the judgments, and Vernon subsequently challenged the validity of the judgments and their renewals. The magistrate court determined the judgments were valid and any claims of improper renewal were barred by res judicata. Vernon appealed to the district court, which dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction and res judicata. In November 2016, while Vernon’s initial appeal was pending, a magistrate judge once again renewed one judgment for an additional five years. Vernon appealed this renewal, which the district court again dismissed citing res judicata. Vernon appealed the district court’s decisions and this Court consolidated both appeals. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment: Vernon failed to show that the district court incorrectly applied well-established law. Furthermore, the Court determined Vernon had not provided cogent argument as to why his claims as to the 1991 judgment and its renewals were not clearly barred by res judicata. As to the 1999 judgment, Vernon failed to file a timely appeal, consequently depriving the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to hear his present appeal. Accordingly, Vernon’s appeal was frivolous, unreasonable, and without foundation, and as such, Sharon was awarded attorney fees and costs on appeal. View "Smith v. Smith" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was what constituted “good cause” for failing to timely serve a defendant in accordance with the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure. The case began with a May 2014 auto collision in Idaho Falls involving Melanie Hansen and Gary White. Hansen claimed White’s negligence caused the collision, and she filed a complaint against him in May 2016. Process servers attempted to serve White in October 2016 at the address listed on the police report, which was taken from his driver’s license, but White had not lived at that address for years. Days before the six-month deadline, Hansen attempted service by publication without obtaining a court order as required by statute. The process server also left the complaint and summons with White’s daughter-in-law at the address listed on the police report. White filed a motion to dismiss for lack of service in November 2016. The district court initially found that good cause existed for Hansen’s failure to timely serve White, but after holding a hearing on White’s subsequent motion for reconsideration, dismissed the claim without prejudice for failure to timely serve. Hansen appealed the dismissal. Finding no reversible error, however, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hansen v. White" on Justia Law

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Appellants Coleman Homes, LLC, West Highlands, LLC, West Highlands Subdivision Homeowner’s Association, Inc., and West Highlands Land, LLC appealed a district court order entered in favor of the City of Middleton, Idaho. Appellants entered into two agreements with the City regarding impact fees and public access space for the West Highlands Ranch Subdivision (the “Project”) located in Middleton. Soon thereafter, Appellants asserted the agreements were invalid and unenforceable. In response, the City sought a judgment from the district court declaring the agreements valid and enforceable. The parties eventually stipulated to the validity of the agreements. Both sides filed motions for summary judgment asking the district court to interpret the agreements. The district court ultimately ordered Appellants to designate 12.8 acres of land within the Project as public access space and ruled that Appellants were obligated to provide a financial guarantee, if necessary. Based on the summary judgment order, the district court found the City to be the prevailing party and awarded the City attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-120(3). Appellants appealed the district court’s prevailing party determination. The City cross-appealed the district court’s fee award and ruling that Appellants were obligated to provide a financial guarantee, if necessary. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the prevailing party determination, and ordered a clerical error with respect to naming the party obligated to provide a financial guarantee. View "Middleton v. Coleman Homes" on Justia Law

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Medical Recovery Services, LLC (“MRS”), appealed a district court decision that affirmed a magistrate court’s dismissal of an MRS complaint. MRS alleged a right to collect on a debt from Yvonne Ugaki-Hicks, who did not respond to the complaint. MRS filed a complaint against Ugaki-Hicks to recover $1,416.63 alleged to be due for medical services provided by SEI Anesthesia. MRS alleged that it was the assignee of the bill. MRS filed an application for entry of default and default judgment. The magistrate court denied the request. MRS appealed to the district court which determined default should have been entered but affirmed the magistrate court’s denial of entry of default judgment. MRS appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. MRS contended the failure of Ugaki-Hicks to appear and the affidavit of counsel provided an uncontradicted record of the debt assigned to MRS. However, MRS failed to include Exhibit A, the alleged proof of debt or the assignment thereof. MRS stated it did not know why Exhibit A was not included in the record, but that it did not matter because there was no original instrument or written contract between SEI Anesthesia and Ugaki-Hicks. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in requiring MRS to provide evidence of the assignment of claim. “m. Whether Exhibit A would have met the standard could not be determined by either the district court or this Court. This Court is left to presume missing evidence supports the lower courts’ findings.” The district court decision was thus affirmed. View "Medical Recovery Svc v. Ugaki-Hicks" on Justia Law