Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
In a parental rights termination and adoption case, John Doe I (“Father”) was incarcerated for second degree murder. He was given a minimum fifteen year sentence, with a subsequent indeterminate period not to exceed life. While Father was in jail awaiting trial, Mother and Jane Doe III ("Child") visited him frequently. After sentencing, Father was transferred to the Idaho State Correctional Institute in Boise. Mother and Child visited him there once in September 2012. This was the last physical contact Child had with Father. Shortly after this visit, Father was transferred to a prison in Colorado. In early 2016, he returned to the Correctional Institute in Boise. Father made frequent phone calls to Child until 2013 when Mother, out of concern for Child, began restricting calls to Child. Thereafter, Father sent a few letters to Child, but has essentially had no contact with Child since then. In 2013, Mother began dating Stepfather. In May 2015, Mother and Stepfather were married. Mother and Stepfather have two children together, and they, Child and their two children live as a family in Nampa. Mother and Stepfather operate two daycare centers in Nampa. Stepfather has acted as a father figure to Child since he began dating Mother, and has had the care, custody and control of Child since he married Mother in 2015. A magistrate court held that it was in the best interest of Child that Father’s rights be terminated so that Stepfather (John Doe II) could adopt her. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Doe II v. Doe I" on Justia Law

by
Chevy Chase Bank foreclosed on property recorded in Melissa Kempton-Baughman’s name. Plaintiff and her husband apparently tried to work out a plan to cure the default in payments. The deed of trust identified the note, and it defined the bank as the lender, the Plaintiffs as the borrowers, and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), as the beneficiary. MERS executed an “Assignment of Deed of Trust,” transferring to UBS Investment Bank the promissory note and the beneficial interest in the deed of trust. Pioneer Lenders Trustee Services, LLC, as successor trustee, recorded a “Notice of Default and Election to Sell Under Deed of Trust.” The notice stated, “The beneficial interest under said deed of trust and the obligations secured thereby is currently held by UBS Investment Bank.” Plaintiffs filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. In their petition, they listed Chevy Chase Bank as a secured creditor, and they stated that it had a lien on the property, that the lien was in foreclosure, that the secured debt exceeded the value of the property by $550,000, and that the property would be surrendered. On September 9, 2009, they received a discharge. They did not list UBS Investment Bank as a creditor. MERS executed an “Assignment of Deed of Trust,” transferring to UBS Investment Bank the promissory note and the beneficial interest in the deed of trust. The property was sold at a nonjudicial foreclosure sale to UBS Investment Bank, and the trustee’s deed was recorded on January 27, 2010. A year later, MERS executed an “Assignment of Deed of Trust” transferring to U.S. Bank, N.A., as trustee for the Trustee for Master Adjustable Rate Mortgage Trust Pass Through Certificates, Series 2007-3, all beneficial interest in the deed of trust. Pioneer Title Company, as successor trustee, recorded a notice of rescission, stating that the trustee had “been informed by the Beneficiary that the beneficiary wanted to rescind the Trustee’s Deed recorded upon the foreclosure sale which was conducted in error due to a failure to communicate timely, notice of conditions which would have warranted a cancellation of the foreclosure. US Bank contended that the sale was void because UBS Investment Bank was a nonentity. Plaintiffs then filed this action seeking quiet title to the real property and an injunction against any further attempts to foreclose on the deed of trust. Finding that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiffs’ claim that the foreclosure was barred on a statute of limitations defense, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Baughman v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law

by
This consolidated action began as four separate lawsuits arising from transactions involving a dairy operation. This appeal focused on the claims asserted by Jack McCall against Max Silva personally. Max Silva appeals from the judgment of the district court in Twin Falls County finding him personally liable for the purchase of 116 dairy cows. After a bench trial, the district court found Silva personally liable for the purchase of the cows and dismissed the other claims against him. Silva contended that the district court erred when it found him personally liable for the purchase. Silva also argued that the district court abused its discretion when it failed to award him attorney fees proportionate to the claims on which he prevailed at trial. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "McCall v. Silva" on Justia Law

by
Steven Andrews filed for workers’ compensation benefits after he fell from a ladder in 2009 while working for the Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church). Andrews sought to establish that the Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (ISIF) was liable pursuant to Idaho Code section 72- 332. The referee concluded that Andrews failed to show that ISIF was liable because the evidence showed that any pre-existing physical impairments did not constitute a subjective hindrance and that Andrews failed to show that his pre-existing impairments combined with the industrial accident to cause his total and permanent disability. The Commission adopted the recommendation. Andrews timely appealed, arguing that the Commission’s order was not supported by substantial and competent evidence. Not persuaded by Andrews’ arguments, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Andrews v. Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund" on Justia Law

by
Idaho discovery rules require a testifying witness to disclose the basis and reasons for all opinions and all of the data and information considered by the witness in forming the opinions. The issue central to this case was whether a plaintiff had to disclose the identity of a non-testifying medical expert (the physician assistant) who consulted with a testifying expert (the physican-expert) to familiarize the testifying expert with the applicable local standard of care. This was a matter of first impression for the Idaho Court. The district court held that Rule 26(b)(4)(B) of the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure shielded the Quigleys from disclosing the identity of the non-testifying medical expert. Defendant Dr. Travis Kemp was granted a permissive, interlocutory appeal to resolve this issue. The Supreme Court concluded district court’s decision to preclude discovery under Rule 26(b)(4)(B) was not consistent with applicable legal standards, and constituted reversible error. View "Quigley v. Kemp" on Justia Law