Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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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

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Karen Savage appealed the dismissal of her Idaho Wage Claim Act (“IWCA”) action by the district court. Savage brought this action against her employer Scandit Inc. (“Scandit”) in November 2016 after Scandit failed to pay her over $400,000 in commissions and bonuses she claims were due by the end of October. The district court granted Scandit’s motion to dismiss finding that Savage had failed to allege that she had earned the commissions as defined in the 2016 Commission Compensation Plan (“CCP”) between Savage and Scandit. The district court also denied Savage’s motion to amend, holding that the amendment would be futile. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined Savage alleged sufficient facts in her complaint to preclude dismissal, and that her motion to amend the complaint was not futile. Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision granting the motion to dismiss the complaint, and denial of the motion to amend were reversed. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Savage v. Scandit, Inc." on Justia Law

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Animal Control Officer Laurie Deus responded to a report of a vicious dog. When she arrived on scene, a black and white pit bull, later identified as “Bo,” aggressively charged anyone who got near him. Bo was declared aggressive, and later dangerous. Mark and Robyn Munkhoffs’ son Sam Munkhoff (“Sam”) was Bo’s owner, and Bo was kept on the Munkoff’s property. Months later, Officer Deus received a report of a dog bite that occurred near the Munkhoffs’ home. The owner of the dog was identified as Sam. Sam was cited for having an animal running at large, an animal attacking, biting or chasing, and Bo was declared dangerous. The responding animal control officer cited Mark too, whose dog Dexter was also running at large. Mark told the officer that “Sam is absolutely not allowed to move back in nor is he allowed to bring Bo back even for a visit.” Officers tried to locate Sam and Bo; Mark told officers on the phone that “if that dog shows up [I] will shoot it.” Bo bit the Munkoffs’ neighbor, Klaus Kummerling. The Kummerlings filed a complaint, alleging claims for negligence, gross negligence, outrage, and nuisance against the City of Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Ron Clark, the Munkhoffs, and Sam. The Kummerlings did not allege in their complaint that the Munkhoffs were vicariously liable for Sam’s conduct. The district court dismissed the claims against the City and Chief Clark. The Munkhoffs filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted as to all claims except the claim for negligence. Sam, who represented himself, did not join in the Munkhoffs’ summary judgment motion. This case was tried to a jury, and the jury returned a special verdict, finding that the Munkhoffs and their son Sam were negligent, negligent per se, and that their negligence was the actual and proximate cause of Kummerling’s injuries. The jury allocated fault and calculated damages. Kummerling was awarded $16,603.00 in economic damages and $185,000.00 in non-economic damages. The Munkhoffs moved for a new trial pursuant to Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A), (F), and (G), for remittitur pursuant to Idaho Code section 6-807 and Rule 59.1, and for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3). The district court denied the motions, and a judgment was entered on November 7, 2016. On December 14, 2016, the Munkhoffs timely appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error in the trial court’s decision and affirmed. View "Litke v. Munkhoff" on Justia Law

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Animal Control Officer Laurie Deus responded to a report of a vicious dog. When she arrived on scene, a black and white pit bull, later identified as “Bo,” aggressively charged anyone who got near him. Bo was declared aggressive, and later dangerous. Mark and Robyn Munkhoffs’ son Sam Munkhoff (“Sam”) was Bo’s owner, and Bo was kept on the Munkoff’s property. Months later, Officer Deus received a report of a dog bite that occurred near the Munkhoffs’ home. The owner of the dog was identified as Sam. Sam was cited for having an animal running at large, an animal attacking, biting or chasing, and Bo was declared dangerous. The responding animal control officer cited Mark too, whose dog Dexter was also running at large. Mark told the officer that “Sam is absolutely not allowed to move back in nor is he allowed to bring Bo back even for a visit.” Officers tried to locate Sam and Bo; Mark told officers on the phone that “if that dog shows up [I] will shoot it.” Bo bit the Munkoffs’ neighbor, Klaus Kummerling. The Kummerlings filed a complaint, alleging claims for negligence, gross negligence, outrage, and nuisance against the City of Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Ron Clark, the Munkhoffs, and Sam. The Kummerlings did not allege in their complaint that the Munkhoffs were vicariously liable for Sam’s conduct. The district court dismissed the claims against the City and Chief Clark. The Munkhoffs filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted as to all claims except the claim for negligence. Sam, who represented himself, did not join in the Munkhoffs’ summary judgment motion. This case was tried to a jury, and the jury returned a special verdict, finding that the Munkhoffs and their son Sam were negligent, negligent per se, and that their negligence was the actual and proximate cause of Kummerling’s injuries. The jury allocated fault and calculated damages. Kummerling was awarded $16,603.00 in economic damages and $185,000.00 in non-economic damages. The Munkhoffs moved for a new trial pursuant to Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A), (F), and (G), for remittitur pursuant to Idaho Code section 6-807 and Rule 59.1, and for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3). The district court denied the motions, and a judgment was entered on November 7, 2016. On December 14, 2016, the Munkhoffs timely appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error in the trial court’s decision and affirmed. View "Litke v. Munkhoff" on Justia Law

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The City of Idaho Falls (“Idaho Falls”) appealed an order dismissing its breach of contract and waste claims against H-K Contractors, Inc. (“H-K”). In 2005, H-K entered into a written contract requiring it to convey a parcel of property to Idaho Falls. The contract required that H-K initially grant Idaho Falls a storm drainage easement “over and across” the parcel. H-K was also required to convey fee title to the parcel at a future date, in no event later than March 1, 2010. H-K failed to convey the property to Idaho Falls as required. In 2016, Idaho Falls sent a letter to H-K requesting conveyance of title. H-K responded by refusing to convey title to the property, claiming that in 2009 a city official had orally informed H-K that Idaho Falls was no longer interested in the property. Based on that alleged representation, H-K decided to invest in the property to make it profitable. Idaho Falls filed a complaint against H-K for breach of contract and waste. H-K moved to dismiss the complaint based on the limitation found in Idaho Code section 5-216, alleging Idaho Falls’ claims were time barred because they were not brought within the five-year statute of limitations governing contract actions. Idaho Falls countered that the statute of limitations did not apply to it as a subdivision of the State of Idaho. On January 3, 2017, the district court dismissed Idaho Falls’ complaint as time barred. Idaho Falls timely appealed, claiming the district court erred in enforcing the five-year limitation set forth in section 5-216. The Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment, finding it erred when it determined the term “state” in Idaho Code section 5- 216 did not include Idaho’s municipalities. Because Idaho Falls was the “state,” the district court erred when it found its contract claims against H-K were not “for the benefit of the state.” View "City of Idaho Falls v. H-K Contractors" on Justia Law

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Scott and Anne Davison appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of DeBest Plumbing (DeBest). In 2012, the Davisons hired Gould Custom Builders, Inc. (Gould) to perform an extensive remodel of their vacation home in Idaho. Gould hired DeBest as the plumbing subcontractor. A bathtub installed by DeBest developed a leak that caused significant damage before it was noticed and repaired. The Davisons sought damages based upon the contract between Gould and DeBest and for negligence. The district court granted DeBest’s motion for summary judgment on the contract claims because the Davisons were not in privity of contract with DeBest. Later, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of DeBest on the negligence claim, finding that the Davisons had failed to comply with the requirements of the Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act (NORA), Idaho Code sections 6-2501–2504. On appeal, the Davisons argued they satisfied the requirements of NORA because DeBest received actual notice of the claim and sent a representative to inspect the damage. Finding that the Davidsons satisfied the requirements of NORA when they gave DeBest actual notice, and DeBest had an opportunity to inspect the defect, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting DeBest's motion for summary judgment on the Davidsons' negligence claim. The Supreme Court reversed as to negligence, but affirmed the district court in all other respects. View "Davison v. DeBest Plumbing" on Justia Law

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Budget Truck Sales, LLC, Brek A. Pilling, Brian L. Tibbets, and Mike Tilley (the “Budget Parties”) and Kent Tilley entered into various oral agreements relating to the purchase, repair and sale of large trucks and heavy equipment. Shortly thereafter, the relationship of the parties broke down, leading to the filing of three separate lawsuits. Budget Truck Sales, LLC filed a lawsuit against Tilley, alleging that Tilley owed it money on an open account for loans it had provided to Tilley. Tilley filed a lawsuit against Brek Pilling and Brian Tibbits, alleging they personally owed him for his share of the profits. Trial started for the consolidated cases on December 13, 2016. By the second day of trial, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations to resolve each of the cases. Once a resolution was reached, the parties recited the terms of their agreement on the record in open court. In accordance with the settlement agreement, a loader was delivered to the Budget Truck Sales’ lot. Because the loader’s condition was not as Tilley had allegedly represented, the Budget Parties refused to pay Tilley the $100,000 that was due the following day. Tilley’s attorney advised that if the $100,000 payment was not received the next day a motion to enforce the settlement agreement would be filed, and Tilley would seek an award of attorney fees. Tilley’s counsel was notified the Budget Parties would not honor the agreement because they believed Tilley had misrepresented the condition of the loader, and the Budget Parties relied upon that representation when they agreed to the settlement. The parties appealed enforcement of the settlement agreement; the Budget Parties alleged the settlement agreement was void because it was procured by fraud. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded material questions of fact existed upon which the district court could rely in finding that Tilley committed fraud in the inducement by allegedly representing to the Budget Parties the loader was in “great working condition.” Accordingly, the judgment was vacated and the case was remanded for an evidentiary hearing on the Budget Parties’ claim of fraud in the inducement. If such fraud occurred, the entire settlement was vitiated and the parties are placed back in the position they were in before the case was purportedly settled. View "Budget Truck Sales v. Tilley" on Justia Law

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The grant of summary judgment dismissed an action originally brought by Diane Brooks against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (“Wal-Mart”) based on injuries Brooks received when she slipped and fell on a puddle of water near a Rug Doctor self-service kiosk (the “kiosk”) inside a store in Boise, Idaho. Brooks based her claims on premises liability and negligent mode of operation, alleging Wal-Mart knew or should have known that water could spill or leak onto the floor near the kiosk. Wal-Mart moved for summary judgment, arguing that Brooks failed to establish Wal-Mart had actual or constructive notice of the condition that caused her injury, because there was no evidence showing where the liquid came from, how long it had been on the floor, or what it was. The district court agreed; the Supreme Court did not. The Supreme Court found material issues of fact existed, thus precluding summary judgment. The case was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Brooks v. Wal-Mart" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court reversed the magistrate court in an expedited appeal regarding the termination of John Doe (2017-32)'s parental rights. John Doe is the father of minor children KB and AB (the “Children”). The Children entered the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s (“IDHW”) custody in December 2014 after the Twin Falls Police declared them to be in imminent danger. The Children were in their mother’s (“Mother”) care when the police arrested her for possession of a controlled substance. Law enforcement described the condition of Mother’s home at this time as “filthy, cluttered, and containing numerous safety hazards, including raw sewage being present in the basement.” An Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) case plan, filed January 2015, included number of enumerated tasks for both Doe and Mother to complete in order for them to reunite with the Children. The case plan sought to provide Doe and Mother a framework to address “stable housing, sanitary living conditions, the need to obtain controlled substance abuse treatment, to remain clean/sober, and [to] stay out of jail.” Mother relapsed within weeks of a December 2016 order and was arrested for felony possession, kicked out of Drug Court, and went to prison. IDHW sought to terminate Doe and Mother’s parental rights. Doe had not completed his required drug treatment regimen by a first trial, he became more actively involved in his treatment plan by the time of a second trial. Doe showed other encouraging signs between the first and second trial as well, including significant progress on his case plan. However, the magistrate court noted that, despite progress, Doe still had not completed his case plan nor reunified with his children in the intervening period between the first and second trial. The court issued a Memorandum Decision granting termination of Doe and Mother’s parental rights on October 2, 2017, and entered a corresponding judgment ten days later on October 12, 2017. Mother did not appeal, but Doe timely filed his notice of appeal. The Supreme Court found the magistrate court’s December 2016 order stating that termination was not in the Children’s best interest was irreconcilable with IDHW’s first official recommendation following that order that termination “remains” in the Children’s best interest. The magistrate court’s October 2017 decision following the second trial highlighted Doe’s failure to reunify with the Children as a substantial factor in his ultimate decision to terminate. The magistrate court’s procedural error in not entering judgment for Doe and dismissing the petition upon finding that termination was not in the Children’s best interest affected Doe’s fundamental rights in this case. View "Dept. of Health & Welfare v. John Doe (2017-32)" on Justia Law