Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Contracts
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ABK, LLC owned and operated a gas station in Post Falls, Idaho where underground storage tanks were damaged due to water infiltration into the gas stored in the tanks. After the damage occurred, ABK submitted a claim to its insurer, Mid-Century Insurance Company. Mid-Century denied the claim. ABK then sued Mid-Century alleging breach of contract and bad faith. Mid-Century moved for summary judgment on both claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Mid-Century on ABK’s breach of contract claim finding ABK failed to raise a genuine dispute as to the fact the underground storage tanks were damaged by water, specifically excluded by the terms of the policy. The district court also granted summary judgment for Mid-Century on ABK’s bad faith claim finding ABK failed to establish coverage. ABK appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Mid-Century on both claims. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "ABK v. Mid-Century Insurance" on Justia Law

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In December 1995, Brian Trumble entered into a Career Agent’s Contract (“Agent Contract”) with Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho. Under the Agent Contract, Trumble was an independent contractor who procured insurance from interested buyers on Farm Bureau’s behalf. The Agent Contract included a non-competition clause. This case was about whether Trumble could collect service bonus commissions that were credited to him during his career, but which became forfeitable after his termination if he competed with Farm Bureau within one year of the termination. In addition, this case is about Farm Bureau’s counterclaims against the agent, alleging the agent misappropriated trade secrets and intentionally interfered with Farm Bureau’s prospective economic advantage after his termination. The district court held that Trumble forfeited his commissions by competing with Farm Bureau in violation of the one-year non-competition requirement. And the district court held that the agent was blameless for his actions after termination and dismissed Farm Bureau’s counterclaims. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court agreed, affirming the district court’s judgment dismissing the agent’s claims and the insurance company's counterclaims. View "Trumble v. Farm Bureau" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review concerned an unjust enrichment claim brought by Kenworth, a commercial truck dealer, against Skinner Trucking, one of its customers. Kenworth claimed Skinner was unjustly enriched when Kenworth paid past due lease payments and the residual balance owed on Skinner’s lease with GE Transportation Finance. The district court entered judgment for Skinner on the grounds that, as to the residual value of the trucks, Kenworth had not conferred a benefit on Skinner, and that as to both the residual value of the trucks and the past due lease payments, Kenworth was an “officious intermeddler” because it had voluntarily paid GE without request by Skinner and without a valid reason. In a subsequent order, the district court denied Skinner’s request for attorney fees under Idaho Code sections 12-120(3) and 12-121. Kenworth appealed the district court’s judgment; Skinner appealed the district court’s order regarding costs and fees. The Supreme Court concluded after review: (1) the "officious intermeddler" rule was not an affirmative defense; the district court did not err in concluding Kenworth was an officious intermeddler; and (3) the district court did not err in determining that Skinner was not entitled to attorney fees under the circumstances. View "Kenworth Sales v. Skinner Trucking" on Justia Law

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In its motion for summary judgment, Farmers Insurance Company of Idaho argued that Erica Klein was barred from pursuing a supplemental UIM claim because the five-year statute of limitations in Idaho Code section 5-216 had run. Farmers asserted the statute of limitations began to run on either the date of the accident or the date Klein settled with the third party tortfeasor, both of which occurred more than five years prior to Klein filing her complaint to compel arbitration of her UIM claim. The district court denied Farmers’s motion and subsequent motion for reconsideration, holding that the “breach of contract” rule was the proper method of calculating the accrual date for Klein’s cause of action. Farmers appealed the district court’s denial of both motions. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the issue raised by this case was one of first impression, inasmuch as it was asked to determine when the statute of limitations began to run on a cause of action for UIM benefits under an automobile insurance policy. After considering the different approaches taken by other states, the Court adopted the majority’s “breach of contract” rule and affirmed the district court’s decisions. View "Klein v. Farmers Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from an unlawful-detainer and breach-of-contract action filed by Caldwell Land and Cattle, LLC, (“CLC”) after purchasing a building where the holdover tenant, Johnson Thermal Systems (“JTS”), asserted a right to remain on the property. The dispute centered on the interpretation of a lease between JTS and the original property owner which granted JTS an option to extend the lease. JTS contended it properly exercised the option; CLC contends JTS did not. The district court held that JTS failed to exercise the option and thus became a holdover tenant. The court further held that when JTS did not vacate within the proper timeframe, JTS unlawfully detained the premises and was liable for the ensuing damages. JTS appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. The district court’s amended final judgment and its order of attorney’s fees was remanded, however, for reentry of damages consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion , and for reconsideration of attorney’s fees. View "Caldwell Land & Cattle v. Johnson Thermal" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the division of a three-member accounting firm, Siddoway, Wadsworth & Reese, PLLC. The three members of the firm were the personal professional corporations solely owned by each accountant. In early 2015, Reese PC signed a purchase agreement to buy a one-half interest in the client base of Siddoway PC for $200,000. This purchase agreement included an arbitration clause. In August of 2015, Siddoway left the accounting firm, taking several employees and the clients’ information with him. Following Siddoway’s departure, the firm (now named Wadsworth Reese, PLLC), along with its remaining members, filed a complaint in the district court against Siddoway and his personal professional corporation and two of the employees who followed him. Siddoway counterclaimed. The parties brought a range of claims. Reese PC and Siddoway PC also went to arbitration for claims related to their purchase agreement, but the arbitrator determined the purchase agreement was void for failure of a condition subsequent. The remaining claims between the parties were tried by the district court. The district court ultimately decided to “leave the parties where it found them.” This included final determinations pertinent to this appeal: (1) dissociation of Siddoway’s personal professional corporation as a firm member; (2) Siddoway and Siddoway PC were not entitled to attorney fees for compelling arbitration; (3) Siddoway PC failed to show unjust enrichment from the void purchase agreement; and (4) the firm could fund Reese’s personal professional corporation’s litigation and arbitration costs because resolving the purchase-agreement dispute served a legitimate business purpose. Siddoway and Siddoway PC appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment: Siddoway and Siddoway PC were not entitled to attorney fees for compelling arbitration, nor did they show unjust enrichment or breach of membership duties. View "Wadsworth Reese v. Siddoway & Co" on Justia Law

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Starting in February of 2014, Philip McGimpsey (“McGimpsey”) and his wife Jolene leased a home from D&L Ventures, Inc. D&L was a Nevada corporation owned by David Asher and his wife Georgina. The residential property McGimpsey leased from D&L was located in Eagle, Idaho. D&L obtained the Property in a 2013 foreclosure sale and received a trustee’s deed, which excluded any warranties. A dispute arose out of a breach of contract claim between the McGimpsey and D&L, who entered into a combined lease/Buy-Sell Agreement for the property. On discovering that D&L was an unregistered Nevada corporation conducting business in Ada County, McGimpsey failed to close on the purchase of the home in 2017, because he believed D&L to be in violation of Idaho Code section 30-21-502(a). After the closing date passed, D&L informed McGimpsey that the contractual provisions terminated upon his failure to close and reminded McGimpsey he had to vacate the property, pursuant to the Buy-Sell Agreement. About a month later, D&L registered with the Idaho Secretary of State as a Nevada corporation and filed all of its tax returns and paid its other obligations. McGimpsey subsequently filed a complaint against D&L, and the corporation counterclaimed against McGimpsey and third-party defendants. D&L moved for summary judgment that was granted in part and denied in part. The district court ultimately concluded that D&L had the legal ability to convey the property via warranty deed and that McGimpsey breached the Buy-Sell Agreement by failing to close and failing to show that his breach was excused by D&L’s alleged inability to convey marketable title. McGimpsey and third-party defendants timely appealed and their appeals were consolidated. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s award of summary judgment to D&L because Idaho Code section 30- 21-502 did not impair the validity of contracts; therefore, D&L had the legal ability to convey the property via warranty deed. View "McGimpsey v. D&L Ventures" on Justia Law

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Believing that she would be inheriting half of her father’s estate, Deann Turcott and her husband spent considerable time and money making improvements on the father’s land. However, the father subsequently changed his will and left Deann nothing. Deann filed suit seeking quantum meruit damages for the work she had performed. The district court held that quantum meruit damages were not appropriate and awarded damages under a theory of unjust enrichment. Deann appealed the district court’s award of unjust enrichment damages as inadequate. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Turcott v. Estate of Clarence D. Bates" on Justia Law

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Believing that she would be inheriting half of her father’s estate, Deann Turcott and her husband spent considerable time and money making improvements on the father’s land. However, the father subsequently changed his will and left Deann nothing. Deann filed suit seeking quantum meruit damages for the work she had performed. The district court held that quantum meruit damages were not appropriate and awarded damages under a theory of unjust enrichment. Deann appealed the district court’s award of unjust enrichment damages as inadequate. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Turcott v. Estate of Clarence D. Bates" on Justia Law

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David Kosmann appealed a district court judgment relating to a dispute that arose from the sale of real property. He claimed the district court erred in enforcing an oral settlement agreement reached in mediation between Kosmann, Kevin Dinius, and Dinius & Associates, PLLC (collectively “Dinius”). Kosmann also argued the trial court erred in: (1) awarding attorney fees to Dinius as a sanction against Kosmann and his attorney; (2) declining to impose sanctions against Dinius and his attorney; and (3) striking an untimely memorandum and declaration in support of his motion to reconsider. After review of the trial court record, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court determined the district court did not err in enforcing the settlement agreement; the court also did not err in declining to impose sanctions against Dinius on ethics violations. However, the Supreme Court determined the district court abused its discretion in imposing I.R.C.P. 11 sanctions against Kossman and his counsel: the district court did not act consistently with the applicable legal standard for imposing sanctions pursuant to I.R.C.P. 11(b). The Supreme Court declined to address all other issues Kossman raised, and determined he was not entitled to attorney fees on appeal. "The record in this case is so tarnished with questionable conduct that it has presented this Court with a vexing ethical and legal dilemma. While we are gravely concerned over the potential ethical lapses which allegedly occurred during the mediation of this matter, there are no findings in the record concerning these matters. Therefore, as the trial court determined, we will leave to the Idaho State Bar, if properly called upon, the responsibility to investigate this matter further and make the necessary findings and conclusions as to the ethical issues presented." View "Kosmann v. Dinius" on Justia Law