Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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Michelle Ryerson appealed district court decisions entered during the dissolution and winding up of West Foothills TIC, a partnership in which she was a partner. Specifically, Ryerson argued the district court misapplied the Idaho Uniform Partnership Act by entering an order requiring liquidation of the partnership’s real property by sale at a fixed price, and by allowing her former partner the opportunity to purchase the property from the partnership. Ryerson also argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the issue of the real property’s value as of the date of dissolution because, as the real property’s owner, she was presumed competent to testify about its value. Finally, Ryerson argued the district court erred in dismissing her counterclaim seeking a determination that she was entitled to 50 percent of the partnership’s profits upon dissolution. Joseph Guenther, the other partner in West Foothills TIC, cross-appealed, arguing the district court misapplied a provision of the Idaho Uniform Partnership Act by determining that it could not allow Guenther to purchase the partnership’s real property without the consent of the partnership’s creditors. Guenther also argued the district court erred in declining to award him attorney’s fees because he was the prevailing party and the gravamen of his claims was a commercial transaction. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding: (1) the Idaho Uniform Partnership Act required the sale of partnership property upon dissolution unless otherwise agreed by the parties; and (2) the district court erred in fixing the price at which the property was to be listed for sale. The Court reversed the district court’s order attributing 100 percent of post-dissolution increases in equity in the partnership’s real property to Guenther. The Court affirmed the district court’s order denying attorney’s fees. View "Guenther v. Ryerson" on Justia Law

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Glen Ward appealed an order and final judgment of the district court granting the State’s motion for summary dismissal and dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief. In 2014, Ward was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor under 16 years of age after he pleaded guilty to all elements of the crime except for the sexual intent element, to which he entered an Alford plea. He was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment with a 7-year fixed term. Ward asked for, and was granted, appointment of counsel to represent him in the post-conviction relief proceedings. After granting the motion, the district court appointed a conflict public defender to represent Ward in the action. Although he had secured new counsel, Ward subsequently filed numerous pro se documents. Ward argued the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion to proceed pro se as moot. Ward also argued the district court erred in denying his motion to proceed pro se because a post-conviction petitioner has a right to proceed pro se. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed. The Court held that the district court should have refused to entertain Ward’s independent filings in the first place; to the extent that the district court entertained the filings made by Ward as opposed to by his attorney, it was error to do so. However, having come to the conclusion that the district court erred, not by ruling incorrectly on Ward’s purported motion, but by ruling on it at all, the Supreme Court did not need to reverse the district court’s separate order and final judgment granting summary dismissal. "Because we hold that there was no motion properly before the district court to be ruled upon in the first place, the district court’s denial of the purported motion has no impact on the propriety of its final decision and judgment dismissing Ward’s post-conviction petition on the merits." View "Ward v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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Phillip and Marcia Eldridge filed a medical malpractice suit against Dr. Gregory West (West), Lance Turpin, PA-C (Turpin), and Summit Orthopaedics Specialists, PLLC (Summit), alleging Phillip became infected with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) as a result of malpractice committed by West, Turpin, and agents of Summit. West performed hip replacement surgery on Phillip’s right hip in October 2009. In 2012, West performed what he later described as exploratory surgery on Phillip’s hip to determine the source of Phillip’s pain, as well as the potential replacement of components if an infection were found. All of the test results from the samples sent to the pathology department indicated there was no infection in the hip. Rather than explant the hip in its entirety, West replaced only the metal ball at the head of the femur with a ceramic ball. Following the second surgery, Phillip experienced numerous adverse complications. Phillip would have another revision a few months later, during which the MRSA was discovered. The Eldridges claimed West and Turpin breached the standard of care that was due them and as a result, sustained damages. The district court granted various motions, including a motion to dismiss certain causes of action against West, Turpin, and Summit, as well as a motion for summary judgment brought by Turpin and Summit, and a motion for partial summary judgment brought by West. In their appeal, the Eldridges contended the district court erred by: (1) dismissing their claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, and reckless, willful, and wanton conduct; (2) denying their motion to strike the affidavits of West and Turpin; (3) limiting their claim for damages; and (4) concluding that the Eldridges could only present evidence of damages, specifically medical bills, after the Medicare write-offs had been calculated. In affirming in part and reversing in part, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in refusing to strike portions of West’s first affidavit and Turpin’s affidavit because they were conclusory. Furthermore, the district court abused its discretion in precluding the Eldridges from putting on proof of damages that arose after April 24, 2013, and their presentation of damages. Orders granting summary judgment to West regarding the Eldridges’ informed consent claim and Turpin were affirmed. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Eldridge v. West" on Justia Law

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Siranoush Hiatt appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission decision that affirmed the Idaho Department of Labor’s denial of her request for unemployment benefits. The Commission determined that Hiatt was ineligible for benefits because she was terminated from Health Care Idaho Credit Union (“HCICU”) for workplace-related misconduct. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed based on the substantial evidence in the record which supported the Commission’s decision. View "Hiatt v. Health Care ID Credit Union" on Justia Law

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Bennett Day, Trustee of Trust B of the Donald M. and Marjorie D. Day Family Trust, John Day, Dan E. Day, Holcomb Road Holdings, LLC, Donna Day Jacobs, and David R. Day (collectively, the Day family) appealed a district court's decision dismissing their claims against the State of Idaho and the Idaho Transportation Department (the Department). This case related to certain property the Day family owned near Isaacs Canyon in Ada County, Idaho. In the 1990s, the State began working on the Isaacs Canyon Interchange near the Day property. The frontage road (Eisenman Road) was extended to the interchange. Eisenman Road did not reach the Day property. In late 1997, which the parties each stipulated was the date for valuation of any taking, the Department substantially completed construction of the Isaacs Canyon Interchange project. After the interchange was completed, the State transferred jurisdiction and maintenance of Eisenman Road southwest of the Interchange to the Ada County Highway District (ACHD). In 2014, the Department applied to ACHD to obtain access from Eisenman Road to the Day property. In 2015, the Department offered the Day family $560,000 to build an access road themselves, but the Days rejected the offer. In May 2016, ACHD advised the Department that it would “not accept a public street” needed to create the access desired by the Day family. Following ACHD’s denial of the Department’s application, the Day family filed this action, asserting claims against the Department for inverse condemnation, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Both parties moved for partial summary judgment and the Department moved to dismiss the Day family’s complaint. The Day family appealed when the district ocurt dismissed its claims. Their appeal presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review: (1) a question of whether the district court erred by considering the Department’s motion to dismiss without notifying the Day family that it would consider matters outside of the pleadings; (2) a question of whether the district court correctly dismissed the Day family’s claims for lack of standing and for untimeliness; and (3) whether either party was entitled to an award of attorney fees on appeal. The Supreme Court determined the district court: erred in granting summary judgment for the Department on all of the Day family’s inverse condemnation claims; erred by granting summary judgment on the contract claim; and incorrectly held that the statute of limitations barred the inverse condemnation claims of Donna Day Jacobs and David R. Day. Furthermore, the Court determined the district court erred by dismissing the Day family’s contract-based claims. View "Day v. Idaho Transportation Dept" on Justia Law

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Amey Nelson brought a negligence claim against Stefani Kaufman, the Idaho Falls Anytime Fitness, and AT Fitness, LLC. Nelson was using a weight machine at the Idaho Falls Anytime Fitness under the direction of Kaufman, a personal trainer, when Nelson injured a metacarpal bone in her hand. Nelson filed suit alleging that Kaufman had improperly instructed her on the machine’s use, which caused her injury. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Kaufman, holding that Kaufman was an express or apparent agent of Anytime Fitness and therefore released from liability under the terms of the Member Assumption of Risk and Release form Nelson signed when she joined the gym. Nelson unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration, and appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court determined Nelson did not waive her appeal by failing to expressly challenge the district court's finding of an express agency relationship. The Court determined the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Kaufman on the basis that Kaufman was an express agent of Anytime Fitness. Further, the court erred in apply the apparent agency doctrine defensively to find Kaufman was covered by the specific terms of the Membership Agreement. With judgment reversed, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings. View "Nelson v. Kaufman" on Justia Law

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Natalie Shubert filed a negligence claim against her former public defender, Michael Lojek, former Ada County chief public defender Alan Trimming, and Ada County (collectively, “Ada County Defendants”). In 2008, Shubert was charged with two felonies and pleaded guilty to both charges. Her sentences were suspended in each case, and she was placed on probation. After a probation violation in 2011, the Ada County district court entered an order extending Shubert’s probation beyond the time period allowed by law, and the mistake was not caught. After Shubert’s probation should have ended in both cases, she was charged and incarcerated for a subsequent probation violation in 2014. Thereafter, in 2016, Shubert was charged with a new probation violation. Shubert was assigned a new public defender, who discovered the error that unlawfully kept Shubert on probation. Shubert’s new public defender filed a motion to correct the illegal sentence, raising the error that had improperly extended her probation. The district court granted Shubert’s motion to correct the illegal sentence and released Shubert from custody. Shubert then sued her original public defender, the Ada County Public Defender’s Officer, and other unknown Ada County employees alleging false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence per se, negligence, and state and federal constitutional violations. The district court dismissed all of Shubert’s claims except for negligence. In denying the Ada County Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on Shubert’s negligence claim, the district court held that public defenders were not entitled to common law quasi-judicial immunity from civil malpractice liability, and two provisions of the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA) did not exempt public defenders from civil malpractice liability. The Ada County Defendants petitioned the Idaho Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court affirmed, finding the district court did not err in its finding that the public defenders and the County were not entitled to immunity. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Shubert v. Ada County" on Justia Law

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Francisca Gomez died as the result of a horrific industrial accident that occurred while she was cleaning a seed sorting machine as part of her employment with the Crookham Company (“Crookham”). Her family (the Gomezes) received worker’s compensation benefits and also brought a wrongful death action. The Gomezes appealed a district court’s grant of summary judgment to Crookham on all claims relating to Mrs. Gomez’s death. The district court held that Mrs. Gomez was working within the scope of her employment at the time of the accident, that all of the Gomezes’ claims were barred by the exclusive remedy rule of Idaho worker’s compensation law, that the exception to the exclusive remedy rule provided by Idaho Code section 72-209(3) did not apply, and that the Gomezes’ product liability claims fail as a matter of law because Crookham is not a “manufacturer.” The Idaho Supreme Court determined that given the totality of the evidence in this case, which included prior OSHA violations for similar safety issues, the district court erred by failing to consider whether Crookham consciously disregarded information suggesting a significant risk to its employees working at or under the picking tables, which were neither locked nor tagged out, as they existed on the date of the accident. On this basis, the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to Crookham was reversed and the matter remanded for the trial court to apply the proper standard for proving an act of unprovoked physical aggression, and to determine whether there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Crookham consciously disregarded knowledge of a serious risk to Mrs. Gomez. View "Gomez v. Crookham" on Justia Law

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Shane and Rebecca Ackerschott sued Mountain View Hospital, LLC, doing business as Redicare (“Redicare”), after Shane sustained an injury leading to paraplegia. A jury found Redicare’s treatment of Shane breached the standard of care and awarded the Ackerschotts $7,958,113.67 in total damages. After judgment was entered, Redicare filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or in the alternative, a new trial. The Ackerschotts also moved to alter or amend the judgment. All post-trial motions were denied. Redicare appealed, arguing the district court erred by not submitting an instruction on comparative negligence to the jury and by allowing testimony of the Ackerschotts’ expert witness. The Ackerschotts cross-appealed, arguing the cap on noneconomic damages imposed by Idaho Code section 6-1603 was unconstitutional. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed as to Redicare’s direct appeal, and declined to reach the merits of the Ackerschotts’ constitutional claim on cross-appeal. View "Ackerschott v. Mtn View Hospital; Redicare" on Justia Law

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BrunoBuilt, Inc. appealed a district court’s dismissal of its claims against Strata, Inc., Chris Comstock, H. Robert Howard, and Michael Woodworth (collectively, “the Strata Defendants”). BrunoBuilt filed a professional negligence action against the Strata Defendants alleging that when the Strata Defendants rendered engineering services for the Terra Nativa Subdivision they failed to identify a pre-existing landslide and negligently failed to recommend construction of infrastructure that would stabilize and prevent further landslides within the Subdivision. A home BrunoBuilt had contracted to build and the lot on which the dwelling was located were allegedly damaged as a result. The district court dismissed BrunoBuilt’s claims after holding that the parties had entered into an enforceable settlement agreement, or alternatively, that summary judgment was warranted in favor of the Strata Defendants based on the economic loss rule. After review of the situation, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court judgment because the parties entered into an enforceable settlement agreement. View "Brunobuilt, Inc. v. Strata, Inc." on Justia Law