Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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Thomas Lanham appealed the dismissal of his legal malpractice action against his former attorney, Douglas Fleenor. Fleenor represented Thomas in a will contest regarding Thomas’s father. After the magistrate court ruled against Lanham at the summary judgment stage, Fleenor filed an untimely appeal, which was rejected on that basis. Because the appeal brought by Fleenor was untimely, Lanham brought a legal malpractice action against Fleenor in district court, alleging that the failure to timely appeal the magistrate’s ruling proximately caused him financial loss because he had a meritorious appeal that he never got to pursue due to Fleenor’s negligence. The district court dismissed Lanham’s legal malpractice claim, reasoning that a timely appeal by Fleenor would have been unsuccessful on the merits; hence, Lanham did not suffer any injury as a result of Fleenor’s alleged malpractice. Lanham argued on appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court that the interpretation of the will, in which the deceased attempted to disinherit Lanham, did not properly dispose of all of the estate because it did not contain a residuary clause. Lanham argued these failures should have resulted in various assets passing to him through intestate succession. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Lanham’s malpractice case. View "Lanham v. Fleenor" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a failed golf course development project known as “The Idaho Club” undertaken by Pend Oreille Bonner Development, LLC (“POBD”). POBD took out several loans to finance the development of The Idaho Club and subsequently defaulted on them, failed to pay mechanics and materialmen for their services, and failed to pay real property taxes. During this litigation, three lending companies, R.E. Loans, LLC, Pensco Trust Co. and Mortgage Fund ’08 assigned and/or sold all of their right, title, and interest in their three loans with POBD to Valiant Idaho, LLC (“Valiant”). The loans were secured by three mortgages that provided parcels of The Idaho Club as collateral. VP, Inc. had an interest in certain lots containing water and sewer infrastructure (the lagoon lots and the well lots) and it held utility easements for the same. VP obtained its interest in The Idaho Club from quitclaim deeds to four parcels and an alleged equitable servitude and prescriptive easements. The Idaho Supreme Court determined VP did not err in granting partial summary judgment against VP as to its liens' priority, nor did it err as to Valiant's third motion for summary judgment or in granting Valiant's temporary restraining order and injunction. The Court determined VP waived its right to challenge a second decree of foreclosure on appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court except as to the issue of discretionary costs, which was vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Valiant Idaho v. VP Inc." on Justia Law

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The underlying dispute in this case involved a commercial transaction between H2O Environmental, Inc. (H2O) and Farm Supply Distributors, Inc. (Farm Supply). Following a bench trial, H2O was awarded $7,354.64 for Farm Supply’s breach of an express oral contract. The magistrate court subsequently awarded attorney’s fees to H2O pursuant to Idaho Code section 12-120(3), but limited its award to the amount in controversy. H2O appealed to the district court, claiming that the magistrate court abused its discretion. The district court affirmed and awarded attorney’s fees to Farm Supply. H2O timely appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred when it affirmed the magistrate court’s award of attorney fees: nothing in the record explained the relationship between the magistrate court’s evaluation of the Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 54(e)(3) factors and its decision regarding the amount to award for attorney’s fees. “It is not enough for a trial court to acknowledge the existence of the Rule 54(e)(3) factors; rather, it must appear that there is a reasoned application of those factors in the trial court’s decision regarding the amount of attorney’s fees to be awarded.” The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "H20 Environmental v. Farm Supply" on Justia Law

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This case stems from the foreclosure and lien priority case arising out of the failed Idaho Club golf course and residential housing development project. The developer, Pend Oreille Bonner Development, LLC (“POBD”), took out several loans on the real property, agreed to promissory notes, and mortgaged the Idaho Club real property with several lenders, including JV, LLC and, as relevant to this appeal, three other lenders: RE Loans (“REL”), LLC, Pensco Trust Co., and Mortgage Fund ’08 LLC (“MF08”) (collectively, the three “lenders”). JV’s interest in the Idaho Club arose out of a mortgage (the “JV Mortgage”) it recorded against five parcels on the Idaho Club property that JV sold to POBD. POBD ultimately defaulted on its obligations on the promissory notes associated with the mortgages. In addition to defaulting on the notes, POBD failed to pay property taxes to Bonner County for several years and failed to pay various mechanics and materialmen, one of which was Genesis Golf Builders, Inc. (“Genesis”). JV appealed the district court's conclusion that Valiant Idaho, LLC (“Valiant”) held a priority position in the mortgages on the development. JV also appealed the district court’s award of costs against it, as well as a judgment by the district court that awarded sanctions against JV and its attorney. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, finding JV's redemption deed did not subordinate it to Bonner County's right, title, claim and interested based on a tax deed. The Supreme Court also found the district court abused its discretion in the way that it applied the formula announced in Valiant Idaho, LLC v. North Idaho Resorts, LLC (No. 44583, 2018 WL 4927560) to arrive at its costs award. View "Valiant Idaho v. JV, LLC" on Justia Law

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This was an action arising out of a failed golf course and residential development project known as the “Idaho Club.” North Idaho Resorts, LLC (“NIR”) appealed an award of discretionary costs and costs as a matter of right awarded against it, contending the district court abused its discretion by awarding discretionary costs, and that the court’s award of some costs as a matter of right was erroneous. After review of the district court record, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court abused its discretion by using a formulaic analysis in this case, and by awarding some costs as a matter of right against NIR. The district court judgment was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Valiant Idaho v. No. Idaho Resorts" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a dispute regarding Idaho First Bank’s (“IFB”) efforts to collect on a note secured by a deed of trust. IFB appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of debtors Maj-Le and Harold Bridges (the “Bridges”). The Bridges began leasing land from the Idaho Department of Lands (the “State”) in 2005, with the intent to build a cottage on the land. In 2014, the Bridges entered into a new nine-year term lease agreement with the State. This new lease contained a provision classifying buildings and structures on the leased land as “Personal Property.” This provision was not in the original 2005 lease agreement. In May 2015, the Bridges defaulted on the note. The Bridges then tendered both the cottage and the lease to IFB. On June 19, 2015, IFB filed suit, seeking a judgment on the note without taking action to foreclose on the deed of trust. Significant here, more than three months later, IFB amended its complaint a second time, claiming two separate causes of action seeking a deficiency judgment in the sum of $344,377.24. The first cause of action sought a deficiency under Idaho Code section 28-9-615, with IFB continuing to maintain that the 5000-square-foot cottage was personal property; the second cause of action sought the same relief on the basis of Idaho Code section 45-1512, relative to trust deeds and real property. The Bridges moved for summary judgment against IFB’s deficiency claims, arguing: (1) the cottage was not personal property, making the claim pursuant to section 28-9-61 erroneous; and (2) IFB’s deficiency claims were time barred because they were not filed within three months after foreclosure of the deed of trust, as required by section 45-1512. Finding no reversible error in the district court order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Idaho First Bank v. Bridges" on Justia Law

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This appeal related to a purported agreement resolving a lawsuit between Kevin Seward and Musick Auction, LLC (“Musick”). Seward claimed that the parties entered into a binding oral settlement agreement and he moved to enforce the agreement. The district court granted Seward’s motion. Musick contended on appeal the district court erred in several respects when it held that the parties had entered into a binding settlement agreement. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Seward v. Musick Auction, LLC" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (2018-24) (“Mother”) appealed a magistrate court’s decision to terminate her parental rights over her daughter (“K.O.”) on grounds of neglect after finding it was in K.O.’s best interest. On appeal Mother contested the magistrate court’s findings that: (1) early permanency for K.O. was appropriate and a continuance of trial was not warranted; and (2) that mother neglected K.O. and it was in the best interest of K.O. to terminate Mother’s rights. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found the magistrate court did not abuse its discretion in failing to continue the trial. Additionally, substantial and competent evidence, to a clear and convincing standard, supported the magistrate court’s decision that Mother neglected K.O. and it was in K.O.’s best interest to terminate Mother’s parental rights. View "IDHW v. Jane Doe (2018-24)" on Justia Law

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Carla Sparks appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission decision, which affirmed an Idaho Department of Labor (“IDOL”) finding that she was not entitled to unemployment benefits after being discharged by her employer, Laura Drake Insurance and Financial Services, Inc. (“Drake Insurance”). The appeals examiner held a telephonic hearing to determine Sparks’ unemployment benefit eligibility, but Sparks failed to appear. As a result, Laura Drake’s sworn testimony about the details of Sparks’ termination was undisputed. The appeals examiner found that Sparks was terminated for cause and thus was not entitled to unemployment benefits. The Commission affirmed, and Sparks appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. The Supreme Court determined Sparks was properly found ineligible for unemployment benefits and the hearing officer/Commission’s denial of her request to provide additional evidence after the initial hearing was not an abuse of discretion. View "Sparks v. Idaho Dept of Labor" on Justia Law

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Phil Hart appealed a district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing his action contesting the results of a primary election for a State legislative seat. The district court ruled Hart had failed to demonstrate that any irregularities in the election were “sufficient to change the result” - an essential component of an election challenge under the Elections Contests Act, Idaho Code sections 34-2101–34-3128. Hart appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hart v. Idaho Secretary of State" on Justia Law