Articles Posted in Consumer Law

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This appeal concerned the guardianship of a ten-year-old child, Jane Doe II (“Jane”), whose parents passed away in 2017. A family friend petitioned for guardianship; Jane's aunt (twin sister of her mother) also petitioned for guardianship. A guardian ad litem recommended the friend be awarded temporary guardianship for Jane to finish the school year, then the aunt be permanent guardian. The friend appealed. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian was vacated by the Idaho Supreme Court, which remanded the case for the magistrate court to conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to a new trial. View "Western Community Ins v. Burks Tractor" 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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This case centers on efforts to collect payment for medical services. Medical Recovery Services, LLC (“MRS”), appealed a district court decision affirming rulings of the magistrate court in favor of the patient, Jared Neumeier. Neumeier’s doctor’s billing agent assigned the delinquent account to MRS for collection. Neumeier did not receive any attempted communications from his doctor’s office or MRS, nor did he receive any other form of demand for payment related to the delinquent account. Neumeier saw his doctor for other unrelated medical services, which resulted in a separate bills that were submitted to insurance for payment. MRS eventually sent a letter addressed to Neumeier at his correct address. The one-page letter was attached to MRS’s complaint and was the only communication to Neumeier from either his doctor or MRS. The letter listed Neumeier’s contact information, the amount owed (exclusive of interest), the name of the creditor (MRS), and paraphrased recitations of the required inclusions under the Fair Debt Collections Act. The undated notice letter did not identify the doctor or connect the debt with a particular bill or treatment. Without a response from Neumeier, MRS requested its legal counsel to file an action to recover the debt. Neumeier visited his doctor under the belief that the notice letter was a fraud or scam. During this visit, the office discovered that it had never submitted the bill to Neumeier’s insurer; however, the office also informed Neumeier that the account had already been assigned to MRS for collection. On the same date, MRS filed a complaint against Neumeier, seeking a total award of $1,891.37, including $958.63 for the principal amount, $282.39 in statutory prejudgment interest, and attorney’s fees and costs. The next day, Neumeier contacted MRS and was informed that he was “too late.” Neumeier was subsequently served with a complaint and summons. The bill subject to the collection action was eventually submitted to insurance, and all but a $42 co-payment was paid. The doctor’s office waived the co-payment. Once the account was satisfied, MRS refused to drop its suit, claiming it was still owed pre-judgment interest. A magistrate found MRS was not owed interest, and dismissed the case. The Idaho Supreme Court found no error in that judgment, and affirmed the magistrate’s decisions. View "Medical Recovery Svc v. Neumeier" on Justia Law

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This case centers on efforts to collect payment for medical services. Medical Recovery Services, LLC (“MRS”), appealed a district court decision affirming rulings of the magistrate court in favor of the patient, Jared Neumeier. Neumeier’s doctor’s billing agent assigned the delinquent account to MRS for collection. Neumeier did not receive any attempted communications from his doctor’s office or MRS, nor did he receive any other form of demand for payment related to the delinquent account. Neumeier saw his doctor for other unrelated medical services, which resulted in a separate bills that were submitted to insurance for payment. MRS eventually sent a letter addressed to Neumeier at his correct address. The one-page letter was attached to MRS’s complaint and was the only communication to Neumeier from either his doctor or MRS. The letter listed Neumeier’s contact information, the amount owed (exclusive of interest), the name of the creditor (MRS), and paraphrased recitations of the required inclusions under the Fair Debt Collections Act. The undated notice letter did not identify the doctor or connect the debt with a particular bill or treatment. Without a response from Neumeier, MRS requested its legal counsel to file an action to recover the debt. Neumeier visited his doctor under the belief that the notice letter was a fraud or scam. During this visit, the office discovered that it had never submitted the bill to Neumeier’s insurer; however, the office also informed Neumeier that the account had already been assigned to MRS for collection. On the same date, MRS filed a complaint against Neumeier, seeking a total award of $1,891.37, including $958.63 for the principal amount, $282.39 in statutory prejudgment interest, and attorney’s fees and costs. The next day, Neumeier contacted MRS and was informed that he was “too late.” Neumeier was subsequently served with a complaint and summons. The bill subject to the collection action was eventually submitted to insurance, and all but a $42 co-payment was paid. The doctor’s office waived the co-payment. Once the account was satisfied, MRS refused to drop its suit, claiming it was still owed pre-judgment interest. A magistrate found MRS was not owed interest, and dismissed the case. The Idaho Supreme Court found no error in that judgment, and affirmed the magistrate’s decisions. View "Medical Recovery Svc v. Neumeier" on Justia Law

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Justin Vigos appealed a district court’s decision to reverse a magistrate court’s order granting his motion for summary judgment against MFG Financial, Inc. (MFG). MFG initiated this action to recover damages from a breach of contract. In 2007, Vigos purchased a vehicle from Karl Malone Toyota. The contract was assigned to Courtesy Auto Credit (Courtesy). After some time, Vigos defaulted on the contract and the vehicle was repossessed and sold at auction. Courtesy then allegedly assigned the contract to MFG who initiated this action in 2015. After discovery, the parties each filed a motion for summary judgment. The magistrate court granted Vigos’s motion for summary judgment, finding that MFG had not presented sufficient admissible evidence to show that it was a real party in interest. MFG appealed and the district court reversed the decision of the magistrate court. Vigos appealed, arguing that the district court applied the wrong standard when it failed to first determine if evidence was admissible before considering it for purposes of summary judgment. MFG cross appealed, arguing that the district court erred when it failed to award it attorney fees on appeal. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "MFG Financial Inc. v. Vigos" 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 district court erred in affirming the magistrate’s decision that Medical Recovery Services, LLC (MRS) was estopped from requesting attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-120(5). MRS attempted a garnishment of Penny Siler’s wages, which was returned unsatisfied because Siler, a school bus driver who cared for her disabled husband and made an average of $499.00 a month, did not earn enough to garnish. MRS agreed to accept $10.00 per month for payment on a default judgment entered after Siler failed to pay a medical bill. Siler went to MRS’s counsel’s office and was told the payoff amount was $1,224.88. She paid that amount in cash. Six days later, counsel for MRS filed an application for supplemental attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-120(5). Following the hearing, the magistrate court issued an order denying MRS’s application for supplemental attorney fees. In its order, the magistrate court, sua sponte, found that MRS was barred by quasi and equitable estoppel from asking for attorney fees because MRS had told Siler the “payoff amount” was $1,224.88, and MRS did not inform Siler it planned to pursue additional postjudgment fees. MRS appealed the magistrate’s decision to the district court. The district court affirmed, finding “the Magistrate Court retains discretion as to whether, or what amount of, attorney fees will be awarded,” and therefore was free to consider any factor it deemed appropriate, including quasi or equitable estoppel, in determining the amount of attorney fees. View "Medical Recovery Svcs v. Siler" on Justia Law

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H. Peter Doble II appealed a district court’s order awarding Interstate Amusements, Inc. (Interstate) attorney fees. Interstate owned and operated a number of movie theaters throughout Magic Valley. As part of its business, Interstate marketed and sold vouchers known as “Cinema Cash:” vouchers purchased in $1.00 increments and could be redeemed for movie tickets and concessions sold at Interstate’s various theater locations. Each voucher was clearly marked with an expiration date after which the voucher was no longer redeemable. Doble attempted to redeem an expired Cinema Cash voucher at one of Interstate’s movie theaters in Twin Falls. Doble filed a Complaint against Interstate in which he alleged that the issuance of Cinema Cash violated Idaho’s Consumer Protection Act (ICPA). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Interstate. With regard to fees, the court found that Doble brought his action “frivolously, unreasonably, and without foundation” and awarded Interstate attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-121. The district court then entered an amended judgment stating: “The defendant, Interstate Amusement, Inc., shall recover from the plaintiff costs in the amount of $320.44 and attorney’s fees in the amount of $7,972.50, for a total of $8,292.94.” Finding no reversible error in the district court's fee award, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Doble v. Interstate Amusements, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lorene Lowe had two credit cards issued by Citibank, N.A. Citibank sold both credit card accounts to Pilot Receivables Management, LLC, and in late 2012, it assigned the accounts for collection to Unifund CCR, LLC. On December 2, 2013, Unifund filed this action to collect on Account No. 2085, and on May 23, 2014, it filed an amended complaint to add a claim to collect on Account No. 0415. Lowe filed an answer asserting the affirmative defense of the statute of limitations and four counterclaims. Both parties moved for summary judgment, with the primary issue being the applicable statute of limitations. Unifund contended that the applicable statute of limitations was a five-year statute applicable to an action on a written contract, and Lowe contended that the applicable statute of limitations was a four-year statute applicable to an action on an oral contract. Both parties agreed that the statute of limitations began to run on each account on the date of the last payment. The district court ruled that the five-year statute of limitations applied. Lowe then agreed to withdraw her counterclaims in exchange for an offset of $500 against the amount of any judgment obtained by Unifund. The district court entered a judgment against her in the sum of $35,259.87, which included the principal, prejudgment interest, court costs and attorney fees. Lowe then timely appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Unifund CCR, LLC v. Lowe" on Justia Law

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This was a dispute between two collections agencies. Medical Recovery Services, LLC (MRS) and Bonneville Billing and Collections, Inc. (BBC) both had outstanding accounts relating to the same debtor, Stacie Christ. In 2008, MRS obtained a judgment against Christ for $1,868. MRS then obtained an order for continuing garnishment of Christ's wages at her place of employment, Western States Equipment Company (WSEC), until the judgment, plus interest, was satisfied. WSEC intended to make the first payment on the continuing garnishment, but a WSEC's payroll department employee inadvertently selected "BBC" instead of "BCS," (for Bonneville County Sheriff), on a computer dropdown menu, and sent the first payment of $331.00 to BBC. WSEC repeated the same mistake on two subsequent occasions and sent checks for $394.83 and $357.38 to BBC instead of the Bonneville County Sheriff. BBC had been assigned two accounts involving Christ as the debtor. The first account was assigned on May 7, 2007, in the amount of $325.50. BBC filed a complaint in connection with this account on May 8, 2008, but did not obtain a judgment. The second account was assigned on April 24, 2008, in the amount of $966.86, and BBC had not yet initiated legal efforts to collect on this account. Due to WSEC's payroll mistake, BBC received three checks from WSEC: $331.00 on July 22, 2008; $394.83 on July 28, 2008; and $357.38 on August 12, 2008. In total, WSEC mistakenly sent BBC $1,083.21, which BBC applied to Christ's outstanding accounts. MRS received a letter from the Bonneville County Sheriff alerting MRS to WSEC's errors. The letter indicated that WSEC had also notified BBC of the error but that BBC refused to return the money. After learning of WSEC's payroll mistake, MRS contacted WSEC and instructed WSEC to discontinue the garnishment. MRS sent BBC a demand letter asking for a return of the $1,083.21. BBC acknowledged receiving the checks and stated that it intended to keep the funds since Christ owed on accounts held by BBC. BBC further indicated that, at the time the checks were received, it believed that the funds resulted from wage assignments that Christ had voluntarily initiated to pay her debts. MRS then sued BBC alleging conversion, unjust enrichment, and requesting a constructive trust over the disputed funds in the amount of $1,083.21. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The magistrate court denied MRS' motion, granted BBC's motion, and awarded BBC attorney fees and costs in the amount of $10,658. On May 3, 2011, MRS appealed to the district court. The district court reversed the magistrate court's judgment and: (1) granted MRS summary judgment on the issues of unjust enrichment and conversion; (2) imposed a constructive trust in favor of MRS over the disputed $1,083.21; (3) vacated the magistrate court's order granting BBC attorney fees and costs; (4) remanded the matter to determine a pre-appeal attorney fee award for MRS; and (5) granted MRS attorney fees on appeal. BBC appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court and reinstated the magistrate court's award of attorney fees. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in finding that BBC was unjustly enriched by MRS, erred in finding that BBC converted MRS' property, and erred in imposing a constructive trust. Accordingly, the district court's memorandum decision and order was reversed. The case was remanded to the district court with instructions to reinstate the magistrate court's award of attorney fees in favor of BBC and to determine an appropriate award in favor of BBC for attorney fees incurred in proceedings before the district court on intermediate appeal. View "MRS v. Bonneville Billing and Collections" on Justia Law