Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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This appeal centered on the distribution of water to water right 95-0734 in the Twin Lakes-Rathdrum Creek Drainage Basin. Sylte Ranch, LLC, was the current claimant on water right 95- 0734, which dated from 1875 and provided natural flow stockwater from Rathdrum Creek. In September 2016, Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) issued a letter of instructions to the local watermaster in response to a complaint that he was releasing storage water from Twin Lakes contrary to a 1989 Final Decree that established all existing rights to Twin Lakes’ surface waters, tributaries, and outlets. These instructions led Sylte to file a Petition for Declaratory Ruling, arguing that IDWR should set aside and reverse the instructions because they improperly limited water right 95-0734 to Twin Lakes’ natural tributary inflow. Twin Lakes Improvement Association, et al., and Twin Lakes Flood Control District intervened in the case. Following cross motions for summary judgment, IDWR issued a Final Order, in which it upheld the instructions and granted intervenors’ motion for summary judgment. Sylte then sought judicial review and the district court affirmed IDWR’s Final Order. Sylte timely appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s determination to uphold IDWR’s Final Order because the instructions complied with the plain language of the 1989 Final Decree. View "Sylte v. IDWR" on Justia Law

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This case involved a dispute over how the Idaho Public Employee Retirement Board calculated the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for retirees who participated in the Firemen’s Retirement Fund (FRF). The Idaho Industrial Commission held that the definition of “paid firefighter” included part-time firefighters. The effect of the Commission’s decision resulted in a smaller annual COLA for retired firefighters. On appeal, the Idaho Retired Firefighters Association, and Sharon Koelling and John Anderson alleged the Board’s inclusion of part-time firefighters violated statutory and constitutional provisions. The Association and the Individual Claimants sought a ruling from the Idaho Supreme Court reversing the Commission’s decision, and a ruling that would exclude part-time firefighters from the Board’s annual COLA calculations, the effect of which would be an increase in the annual COLA applicable to retired firefighters. The Supreme Court vacated the Commission’s decision because it lacked the necessary jurisdiction to decide the question presented to it. View "Idaho Retired Firefighters v. Public Employy Retirement Bd" on Justia Law

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This case involved an appeal brought by Aerocet, Inc., and its surety, the State Insurance Fund, in which they appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission decision involving two worker’s compensation claims brought by George McGivney. The Commission awarded McGivney benefits for injuries he sustained to his left knee while working for both Aerocet and Quest Aircraft (Quest). The Referee consolidated the two cases and issued a recommendation that attributed the vast majority of liability to Quest. The Commission rejected the bulk of the Referee’s recommendations and apportioned liability equally between Aerocet and Quest. Aerocet appealed, alleging the Commission inappropriately consolidated McGivney’s two injury claims. Aerocet also argued the Commission failed to determine McGivney’s disability in excess of impairment from his 2011 accident at Aerocet prior to his 2014 accident at Quest, and that the Commission erred in its application of Brown v. Home Depot, 272 P.3d 577 (2012). Aerocet also contended the Commission’s decision was not supported by substantial and competent evidence. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s decisions. The matter was remanded back to the Commission to enable it to calculate the amount due Quest’s surety from Aerocet’s surety for any amounts overpaid by Quest’s surety. View "McGivney v. Aerocet, Inc" on Justia Law

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Buck and Laurie Graybill appealed an award of attorney fees to Regdab, Inc., following entry of a default judgment against them in an action to foreclose on a mechanic’s lien. Graybill objected to the award of attorney fees and costs because Regdab failed to plead in its complaint a specific dollar amount for attorney fees in the event of default as required by Idaho Rule of Procedure 54(e)(4)(B). The district court ruled that the Rule 54(e)(4)(B) pleading requirement was inconsistent with Idaho Code section 45-513, the provision which mandated an award of certain costs and reasonable attorney fees in mechanic’s lien foreclosure actions. The district court then granted Regdab’s motion for default judgment and awarded the principal amount owed on the mechanic’s lien plus $8,134.62 in attorney fees and costs. Graybill appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court agreed with Graybill that Regdab was required to plead a specific amount of attorney fees to be awarded in the event of default. Accordingly, the Supreme Court vacated the default judgment and remanded this case with instruction to enter a default judgment consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion. View "Regdab, Inc. v. Graybill" 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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This case was an expedited appeal of a magistrate court’s termination of the parental rights of John Doe (Father) to his eight-year-old minor child (IW). John and Jane Doe I, the maternal grandmother and step-grandfather (collectively “Guardians”), filed a petition to adopt IW and terminate Father’s parental rights. Guardians alleged that Father abandoned IW and that termination was in her best interests. The magistrate court granted the Guardians’ petition, and Father timely appealed. Finding substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate court's findings, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Does v. Doe" 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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This appeal arose from the district court’s decision to bar Steven Picatti’s 42 U.S.C. section 1983 claims against two deputies on the basis of collateral estoppel. In July 2014, Picatti struggled to drive home because road access was blocked for the Eagle Fun Days parade. After circumventing some orange barricades, Picatti drove toward two uniformed deputies who were on foot patrol by a crosswalk, which was marked with a large sign reading: “road closed to thru traffic.” The factual background from that point was heavily disputed. Picatti alleged Deputy Miner hit the hood of his car, then pulled Picatti out of his truck to tase and arrest him. The deputies contended Picatti “bumped” Deputy Miner with his truck and then resisted arrest, forcing them to tase him into submission. Picatti was ultimately arrested on two charges: resisting and obstructing officers and aggravated battery on law enforcement. At the end of his preliminary hearing, Picatti was bound over. Prior to trial, Picatti accepted a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace for “failing to obey a traffic sign and driving into a restricted pedestrian area.” The court entered a judgment of conviction, which was not appealed, overturned, or expunged. Two years later, Picatti brought a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against his arresting deputies, claiming deprivations of his protected rights to be free from (1) unreasonable seizure, (2) excessive force, and (3) felony arrest without probable cause. The district court granted summary judgment to the defending deputies holding that collateral estoppel barred Picatti from relitigating probable cause once it was determined at the preliminary hearing. Picatti timely appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the order granting summary judgment to the deputies as to Picatti’s claims of false arrest and unreasonable seizure; however, the Court vacated the summary judgment as to Picatti’s excessive force claim. The district court correctly applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel to Picatti’s claims of false arrest and unreasonable seizure, but not as to excessive force. In addition, the Court could not find as a matter of law that the deputies were entitled to qualified immunity on Picatti’s excessive force claim when there was a genuine issue of material fact. View "Picatti v. Miner" on Justia Law

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Kevin Smith appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission order that concluded the Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (ISIF) was not liable to him for worker’s compensation benefits. The Commission determined that Smith failed to prove he was totally and permanently disabled under both the 100% method and the odd-lot worker method. He also appealed a denied motion for reconsideration that was denied by the Commission, where he alleged that the Commission determined disability at a future date rather than the date of the hearing, that it improperly interpreted a report, and that it improperly considered an excluded exhibit. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s order. View "Smith v. Idaho, Industrial Special Indemnity Fund" 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