Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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David and Margaret Fisk appealed after a district court granted summary judgment in favor of Jeffery D. McDonald, M.D., and the Hospital on their medical malpractice claims. The district court granted summary judgment on the Fisks’ single cause of action after determining the Fisks had failed to provide expert testimony demonstrating actual knowledge of the community standard of care. The Fisks also appealed the district court’s order denying their subsequent motion for reconsideration. The district court granted summary judgment on the basis that the Fisks failed to establish an essential element of their medical malpractice claim. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court's decision was not based on expert testimony submitted by McDonald or the Hospital. As such, the conclusory nature or admissibility of any such testimony was immaterial to the district court’s decision. Therefore, the district court did not err in determining that the burden was on the Fisks to establish the essential elements of their medical malpractice claim. The Court found, however, that the district court erred in denying the Fisks' motions for reconsideration. The district court was asked to reconsider the order granting summary judgment, so the summary judgment standard applied to the district court’s decision on the motion for reconsideration and now applied to the Supreme Court’s review of that decision on appeal. The Fisks supported their motions for reconsideration with additional expert declarations, one of which demonstrated that he had actual knowledge of the community standard of care. Furthermore, the Supreme Court determined the district court erred in determining that the Fisks failed to properly plead that McDonald was liable for the acts or omissions of a nurse practitioner via the agency theory of liability. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Fisk v. McDonald" on Justia Law

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Debra Dlouhy, Dustin Dlouhy, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Duane Dlouhy (“the Dlouhys”) appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of Kootenai Health. The district court granted summary judgment on the Dlouhys’ medical malpractice action after determining that the Dlouhys had failed to provide adequate foundation showing that their expert witnesses had actual knowledge of the community standard of care. In May 2015, Duane Dlouhy went to the emergency department because of rectal bleeding. After a CT scan, "no obvious mass" was noted on his records, but that "dark red blood" was present. The radiologist charted that a “neoplasm cannot be excluded.” Mr. Dlouhy was discharged from the hospital and went home, but returned several hours later after the rectal bleeding began again. A colonoscopy was performed, but no complete view of the rectum could be obtained. Mr. Dlouhy was discharged again. He would have follow-up appointments in June and September, 2015, and in January 2016. By August, he had been diagnosed with state IV colorectal cancer. After review of the trial court record, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting Kootenai Health’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Dlouhys failed to provide sufficient expert testimony as to the community standard of care. The Dlouhys argued that “for board-certified physicians, there is a national standard of care.” They argued that Mr. Dlouhy's original emergency physician was subject to the national standard of care that applied to board-certified gastroenterologists, and that their out-of-area expert had actual knowledge of the applicable national standard because he held the same board certification as the local physician. The Supreme Court concluded the expert familiarized himself sufficiently in the community standard of care for board-certified gastroenterologists such that his testimony should not have been excluded. The district court’s order granting summary judgment was reversed in part, the final judgment dismissing the Dlouhys’ medical malpractice claim was vacated, and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Dlouhy v. Kootenai Hospital District" on Justia Law

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Connie Schoeffel worked for Thorne Research, Inc. (“Thorne”) as a kitchen manager. In 2016, Thorne announced that it would be moving its operations from Idaho to South Carolina. For those employees who would not be relocating to South Carolina, Thorne offered an employee retention program to encourage them to continue working at the Idaho facility until the South Carolina facility was ready. As part of this program, Thorne prepared a “Release of Claims Agreement” (“the Agreement”) providing that Thorne would pay participating employees “bargained-for compensation” in exchange for giving up certain rights, including the right to quit before their positions were eliminated. Schoeffel signed this Agreement approximately six weeks before her last day of work. After her separation, Schoeffel filed for unemployment benefits without reporting the retention payments as income. Around the time Schoeffel received her fourth benefit payment, the Department learned of the payments that Thorne owed Schoeffel under the Agreement. The Department determined that those payments constituted reportable “severance pay” under Idaho Code section 72-1367(4). Consequently, the Department determined that Schoeffel was receiving severance pay and was required to repay the unemployment benefits she had received. Schoeffel appealed to the Department’s Appeals Bureau, which initially ruled in her favor but affirmed the Department’s decision on reconsideration. Schoeffel then appealed to the Industrial Commission which affirmed the Appeals Bureau’s decision. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the payments were reportable severance pay, applying Parker v. Underwriters Labs, Inc., 96 P.3d 618 (2004). "[B]ecause the primary purpose of the Agreement was to secure the relinquishment of Schoeffel’s right to quit, rather than to compensate her for her past service to Thorne, they were not made 'as a result of' severance under Idaho Code section 72-1367(4). Therefore, the retention payments do not constitute reportable severance pay." The Commission's decision was reversed. View "Schoeffel v. Idaho Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law

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Attorney Craig Wise appealed a district court’s determination that he breached a duty of care owed to Billy Kyser, Jr., as a beneficiary of Carolyn Kyser’s will. Wise represented Billy’s mother, Carolyn, in divorce proceedings from Bill Kyser, Sr., and in preparing a will that bequeathed her entire estate in equal shares to Billy and his brother Brent Kyser. As part of the divorce proceedings, and before Carolyn’s will was completed, Carolyn and Bill Sr. executed a property settlement agreement in which Bill Sr. and Carolyn agreed to retain sequential life estates in the family home, with the remainder going to Brent and Billy as tenants in common upon the death of the last surviving parent. Wise prepared a deed memorializing the terms of the property settlement agreement. After Bill Sr. and Carolyn both passed away, Brent retained Wise to represent him as the personal representative of Carolyn’s estate. Brent also hired Wise independently to prepare a quitclaim deed transferring Billy’s interest in the home to Brent. Wise sent the deed to Billy, who then executed it. David Kalb, Billy’s court-appointed conservator, then filed a malpractice suit against Wise. After a court trial, the district court held Wise breached the duty he owed to Billy as a beneficiary of Carolyn’s will by preparing the deed because it frustrated Carolyn’s testamentary intent that her estate be divided equally between her two sons. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s legal determination that Wise owed Billy a duty of care when Wise was acting as counsel for the personal representative of Carolyn’s estate, Brent. "Although Wise owed Billy a duty of care in drafting and executing Carolyn’s will, the district court impermissibly extended that duty by requiring that Wise ensure an asset outside the probate estate complied with Carolyn’s intent in her will." View "Kalb v. Wise" on Justia Law

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Appellant Derrick Lingnaw, a registered sex offender, sought declaratory relief from the district court asking whether he could legally reside on his property. The district court found Lingnaw’s residence was within five hundred feet of property on which a school was located, as that term was used in Idaho Code section 18-8329(1)(d). The court thus denied Lingnaw’s request to enjoin the Custer County Sheriff, Stuart Lumpkin, from interfering with Lingnaw’s ability to reside on his property. The court also denied Sheriff Lumpkin’s request for attorney fees and costs. On appeal, the parties mainly disputed the district court’s finding that Lingnaw’s residence was within five hundred feet of a school. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's ruling that Lingnaw's property was within five hundred feet of property on which a school was located. Lingnaw raised a question of fact as to whether the building, ruled as a "school," was simply a gymnasium and building leased by the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”); Lingnaw argued the plain meaning of “school” required some form of traditional educational instruction. The trial court found “that the gymnasium, as contemplated by the statute, is a school building utilized by the school for school functions on a regular basis . . . for sporting events and other school activities. And children are coming and going from that building on a regular basis.” Because it was “clear from the evidence” that Lingnaw’s property fell “well within” five hundred feet or the buildings’ property line, the district court found that Lingnaw lived within five hundred feet of a school. To this, the Supreme Court concurred. The district court's judgment was affirmed in all other respects. View "Lingnaw v. Lumpkin" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Department of Finance ("Department") filed a civil enforcement action against appellant appellant, Sean Zarinegar, Performance Realty Management LLC ("PRM") and other nominal defendants, alleging Zarinegar and PRM committed securities fraud. The Department moved for summary judgment; Zarinegar and PRM responded with their own motion for partial summary judgment and a motion to strike several documents submitted by the Department in support of its motion for summary judgment. A few days before the district court was set to hear arguments on the motions, counsel for Zarinegar and PRM moved the district court for leave to withdraw as counsel of record. At the hearing, the district court preliminary denied the motion to withdraw, entertained the parties’ arguments, and took all matters under advisement. The district court later issued a memorandum decision and order denying, in part, Zarinegar’s, and PRM’s motions to strike. The district court also denied Zarinegar’s and PRM’s motion for partial summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment for the Department after finding Zarinegar and PRM had misrepresented and omitted material facts in violation of Idaho Code section 30-14-501(2) and fraudulently diverted investor funds for personal use in violation of section 30-14-501(4). The district court then granted the motion to withdraw. The district court entered its final judgment against Zarinegar and PRM September 30, 2019. Zarinegar, representing himself pro se, appealed the judgment, arguing: (1) the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter judgment against him; (2) the district court violated his constitutional right to a jury trial and right to proceed pro se; (3) the district court’s denial of Zarinegar’s motions to strike as to certain documents was an abuse of discretion; and (4) the district court erroneously granted summary judgment for the Department. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Idaho v. Zarinegar" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs John Oswald and Nancy Poore appealed a district court judgment granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Costco Wholesale Corporation ("Costco"). In February 2017, Oswald and Poore were walking on that walkway when an elderly driver drove onto a pedestrian walkway that bisected two perpendicular rows of ADA-accessible parking spaces, striking Oswald and pinning him against a vehicle parked on the opposite side, causing Oswald to suffer significant injuries. Plaintiffs sued Costco alleging: (1) premises liability; (2) negligence and willful wanton conduct; (3) negligent infliction of emotional distress; and (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress. After the district court resolved a discovery dispute in Costco’s favor, Costco moved for summary judgment. In granting the motion, the district court ruled that Costco had no notice that its walkway was a dangerous condition and, therefore, owed no duty to redesign it or warn pedestrians about it. The district court entered judgment dismissing the Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court's decision improperly focused on the duty to maintain safe premises to the exclusion of the duty to use reasonable care. Furthermore, the Court found Plaintiffs put forward sufficient evidence to create a disputed issue of material fact on foreseeability and causation, thereby precluding the award of summary judgment. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Oswald v. Costco" on Justia Law

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In 2005, Ballard Smith (Husband) and Charlie Smith (Wife) stipulated to a final divorce order that required the parties to sell real property located in Salt Lake City, Utah and allocate the net proceeds to both parties on an equal basis. In subsequent orders, Husband was tasked with marketing and selling the Salt Lake Property. Without Wife’s knowledge, Husband moved the Salt Lake Property in and out of various business entities and unilaterally sold a six-acre portion of the Salt Lake Property. After the majority of the Salt Lake Property remained unsold for nearly a decade, Wife petitioned the magistrate court to modify its prior order, requesting that the magistrate court: (1) direct that the Salt Lake Property be appraised and that Husband pay her one-half the appraised value; or (2) in the alternative, appoint a receiver to sell the Salt Lake Property and divide the net proceeds equally. Husband opposed the petition by arguing the magistrate court never had subject matter jurisdiction over the Salt Lake Property when it entered its original final divorce order. The magistrate court granted Wife’s petition to modify and appointed a receiver to handle all matters relating to the Salt Lake Property. Additionally, the magistrate court ordered Husband to pay Wife one-half of the net proceeds from the sale of the six-acre portion of the Salt Lake Property and awarded Wife attorney fees. Husband appealed to the district court. The district court affirmed the magistrate court and awarded Wife attorney fees for her intermediate appeal. Husband then appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Bret and Mary Bennett filed an action to quiet title to their residence in Payette, Idaho, against the Bank of Eastern Oregon (“BEO”), seeking to remove a judgment lien and a deed of trust. In 2007, the Bennetts started a motorsports business in Ontario, Oregon, which leased its premises from a different business entity owned by the Bennetts. In 2008, the Bennetts personally guaranteed one or more loans between BEO and these businesses. Among these loans was a $100,000 promissory note (“the Note”) that was secured by a deed of trust on the Bennetts’ residence situated on the other side of the Snake River in Payette, Idaho (“the Property”). The deed of trust designated 1st American Title Company of Malheur County, Oregon as trustee. The parties signed the deed of trust on April 10, 2008. One day later, on April 11, 2008, BEO recorded the deed of trust in the Payette County Recorder’s Office. By its terms, the deed of trust was set to mature on May 5, 2009. The Bennetts later defaulted on the Note and other obligations to BEO. Rather than seeking to foreclose on the Property for a breach of the Note’s terms, BEO successfully pursued a collection action against the Bennetts in Oregon state court to recover on all of the Bennetts’ debts, including the Note. This appeal addressed whether a debtor could use Idaho’s single-action rule as a sanction to quiet title against a deed of trust when the secured creditor has violated the rule by filing an action against the debtor to recover on the debt before seeking satisfaction of the debt by foreclosing on the property serving as security. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Bennetts stated a cause of action that could allow them to quiet title against BEO for the deed of trust. Construing the pleadings in favor of the Bennetts, BEO violated the single-action rule codified in Idaho Code section 45-1503(1) by seeking to recover from the Bennetts on the Note personally before seeking to foreclose on the Property. Thus, the Supreme Court reversed the district court's decision granting BEO's motion to dismiss, vacated the judgment of dismissal, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bennett v. Bank of Eastern Oregon" on Justia Law

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Appellant Sky Duncan’s daughter, K.R., attended a daycare Anna McCowin ran out of a residence she leased from Respondent Scott Long. In 2014, McCowin left K.R. unattended in the backyard, which allowed K.R. to allegedly escape through a broken gate to a nearby canal where she drowned. Duncan sued McCowin and Long for negligence. Long moved for summary judgment, arguing that he did not owe Duncan or her daughter a duty to repair the broken gate. The district court granted Long’s motion for summary judgment after declining to extend premises liability to an injury that occurred on property adjacent to Long’s property. Duncan filed a motion for reconsideration, which the district court denied. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found the district court correctly held that Long did not owe K.R. a duty of care to protect against an injury that occurred on adjacent property. Therefore, the Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in Long's favor. View "Duncan v. Long" on Justia Law