Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Education Law
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The named plaintiff, Mike Zeyen sought declaratory relief and recovery of damages from Pocatello/Chubbuck School District No. 25 on behalf of all students currently enrolled in the district and their guardians. Zeyen alleged that School District 25’s practice of charging fees violated Article IX, section 1, of the Idaho Constitution. Zeyen first sought to certify the class to include all students within School District 25. Zeyen’s later motion to amend sought to add a takings claim under both the Idaho and U.S. Constitutions. The district court denied Zeyen’s motion for class certification based on lack of standing and denied his motion to amend both as untimely and prejudicial to School District 25. The Idaho Supreme Court determined Zeyen failed to show that the district court abused its discretion by denying his second motion for leave to amend the complaint. Furthermore, the Court determined Zeyen lacked standing to bring his class action suit. The Court therefore affirmed the district court's denial of Zeyen's motion to certify the class and denial of his motion for leave to amend the first amended complaint. View "Zeyen v. Pocatello/Chubbuck School Dist 25" on Justia Law

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Jun Yu appealed the dismissal of his claims for alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and breach of contract. Idaho State University dismissed Yu from its doctoral program in clinical psychology in May 2013, with his final administrative appeal denied on October 2, 2013. Yu, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, was completing his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Idaho State University. He completed all the requisite coursework, wrote and defended his dissertation, but still had to complete a one-year clinical internship. After not matching any programs with the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, Yu set up an alternative internship with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism in Ohio. However, he was dismissed from the Ohio internship early due to performance concerns and subsequently dismissed from Idaho State University’s doctoral program. After exhausting his appeals with the university, Yu received a final letter on October 2 that denied his appeal and immediately made his dismissal effective. In March 2014, Yu filed a notice of tort claim against ISU pursuant to the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA), alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress and a violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Right Act. Eighteen months later he filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho alleging violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, deprivation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Yu later amended his complaint to include allegations of denial of procedural and substantive due process, promissory estoppel, and breach of contract, totaling 18 claims against ISU. No individual defendants were named in the notice of claim or in his federal action. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Yu’s claims because they were untimely. View "Yu v. ID State University" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in dismissing the State Defendants under the Constitutionally Based Educational Claims Act (“CBECA”). This appeal arose from Russell Joki’s action challenging the constitutionality of: (1) fees charged to students of Meridian Joint District #21 ; and (2) the statewide system of funding Idaho’s public schools. Joki and sixteen other individuals (collectively referred to as “Joki”) initiated the suit against the State, the Idaho Legislature, the Idaho State Board of Education, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction (collectively referred to as the “State Defendants”), all 114 Idaho public school districts, and one charter school. The district court granted the State Defendants’ motion to dismiss. Joki argued the CBECA did not apply here, but the Supreme Court disagreed, finding: (1) the CBECA was constitutional, “it is not unreasonable for the legislature to also declare that allegations that the required educational services are not being furnished should first be addressed to the local school districts which have been given the responsibility and authority to provide those services;” and (2) Joki’s claims relating to the fees levied by the school districts fell squarely within the definition of a constitutionally based educational claim because the legislature’s duty was to provide free common schools. View "Joki v. Idaho Bd of Education" on Justia Law

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Kara Alexander sued Vianna Stibal for fraud, breach of contract, and punitive damages. A jury awarded Alexander $111,000 on her contract claim, $17,000 on the fraud claim, and $500,000 in punitive damages. Stibal is the owner and operator of Nature Path, Inc. and the ThetaHealing Institute of Knowledge (THInK). In the beginning of 2008, THInK announced that it would offer a newly-created doctoral degree in ThetaHealing. students of ThetaHealing, including Alexander, began to question the validity of her doctoral degrees. In November of 2011, Alexander filed a complaint against Stibal, alleging breach of contract and fraud. During the trial, the district court denied Stibal’s motion for a directed verdict on the fraud and breach of contract claims. Following trial, Stibal moved for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV). The district court denied these post-trial motions, but reduced the punitive damages award to $384,000. On appeal, Stibal challenges the district court’s rulings on the contract, fraud, and punitive damages issues. After review, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order denying Stibal’s motion for JNOV on the contract claim. The Court vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded with directions for the district court to enter a new judgment reflecting our ruling on the contract claim and the reduction in punitive damages to $100,000. The Court affirmed in all other respects. View "Alexander v. Stibal" on Justia Law

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This case was brought under the Idaho Tort Claims Act asserting negligence by a public university in allowing a student-athlete to return to competition after sustaining a head injury. Plaintiff Samuel Zylstra was a student and wrestler at Boise State University (BSU). Zylstra brought suit against BSU and the State of Idaho alleging BSU employees negligently allowed him to continue wrestling after he was injured during a tournament. On motion by BSU, the district court granted summary judgment on the issue of causation, but denied summary judgment as to BSU's statute of limitations arguments. Notwithstanding the denial in part, the partial grant of summary judgment provided adequate grounds to dismiss Zylstra's action. Zylstra appealed the district court's decision to strike two expert affidavits offered in opposition to BSU's summary judgment motion and also alleged judicial bias. BSU cross-appealed the district court's denial of summary judgment on the statute of limitations issue. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Zylstra v. Boise State University" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Victoria Johnson appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of North Idaho College (NIC) on her claim of discrimination under the Idaho Human Rights Act (IHRA). Plaintiff alleged one of her instructors sexually harassed her, and that NIC was vicariously liable for that harassment. The district court held that NIC's affirmative defense was factually support, and that she failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Upon review of the facts of this case, the Supreme Court concluded that the district court did not err in finding that no genuine issue of material fact existed in regard to Plaintiff's claims. Accordingly the Court affirmed the opinion of the district court. View "Johnson v. North Idaho College" on Justia Law