Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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Denise M. Ehrlich appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission (the Commission) order that determined she was ineligible for unemployment benefits. The Commission affirmed the determination of the Idaho Department of Labor and the Appeals Examiner that Ehrlich willfully underreported her weekly earnings. On appeal, Ehrlich contended the Commission’s finding that she willfully misrepresented her wages was clearly erroneous. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s decision. View "Ehrlich v. IDOL" on Justia Law

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Bryan Oliveros filed a complaint with the Idaho Industrial Commission (“Commission”) after he was involved in a work related accident at Rule Steel Tanks, Inc. (“Rule Steel”). The accident resulted in the partial amputation of all four fingers on his dominant hand. The Commission awarded Oliveros compensation for a 32% partial permanent impairment (“PPI”) rating but declined to award any additional benefits after it later found his permanent partial disability (“PPD”) rating to be 25%. Oliveros appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. While the Court concluded the Commission erred when it found Oliveros’ PPI could exceed his PPD, it otherwise affirmed the Commission’s decision. View "Oliveros v. Rule Steel" on Justia Law

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Mother Jane Doe appealed a magistrate court’s termination of her parental rights to her child T.G.E. At the time she gave birth, Mother had pending felony drug charges and an active warrant for her arrest; the child’s umbilical cord tested positive for methamphetamine at birth. Following a termination hearing, the magistrate court found termination proper based on neglect and entered an order to that effect on December 8, 2017 (the Order). However, in a subsequent decree (the Decree) issued on December 15, 2017, the magistrate court stated Mother’s parental rights were being terminated based on abandonment. The court also terminated Father’s parental rights however, Father had voluntarily relinquished his parental rights and was not a party to this appeal. On appeal, both Mother and the Department raised procedural issues relating to the conflicting Order and Decree. Subsequently, the Idaho Supreme Court remanded the case for entry of a new judgment terminating Mother and Father’s rights to Child, and stated the Order would constitute the findings of fact and conclusions of law. Mother appealed, contenting the magistrate court erred when it terminated Mother’s parental rights. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the ultimate termination. View "DHW v. Jane Doe" on Justia Law

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At the summary judgment stage, the district court found that an employee of Greenwald Neurosurgical, P.C. caused over $100,000 in losses to the P.C., while he was acting in the ordinary course of the P.C.’s business. The district court then issued a judgment to the P.C. for the policy amount of $100,000 pursuant to a Dishonesty Bond issued by Western Surety Company. Western appealed the district court’s determinations that the employee caused the loss while acting in the ordinary course of business and that the P.C. actually suffered the loss. The P.C. cross-appealed the district court’s findings that it was the only entity insured under the bond and argued it was awarded too little by way of attorney’s fees. The Idaho Supreme Court determined: (1) the district court correctly concluded that only the P.C. was an insured and the only entity that could recover under the bond; (2) whether the employee was acting the “ordinary course of [the P.C.’s] business” was a jury question; (3) a genuine issue of fact existed regarding the amount of losses the P.C. sustained; and (4) the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to the P.C. The Supreme Court therefore vacated summary judgment, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Greenwald v. Western Surety" on Justia Law

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Arturo Aguilar appealed the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Order of the Idaho Industrial Commission in which it concluded the Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (ISIF) was not liable to him for worker’s compensation benefits. Aguilar was born in Mexico, spoke limited English and testified through a translator at his hearing. Aguilar, in the words of the Commission, is “a Mexican National and has resided illegally in the United States since approximately 1986.” Married, Aguilar and his wife had two daughters, the eldest of whom had cerebral palsy and was seriously disabled. Aguilar primarily worked as a manual laborer, including agricultural work, ranch work, and, for the last fifteen to sixteen years prior to the injury giving rise to this claim, concrete and cement work. During this latter line of employment, Aguilar sustained multiple back injuries. On December 11, 2006, Aguilar suffered another low back injury while screeding concrete. Following this latter injury, Aguilar was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and a disc herniation at the L4-5 level of his spine. Because he was unable to get his pain to abate, he underwent back surgery, which resulted in the fusion of the L4-5 level of Aguilar’s spine. The Industrial Commission (the Commission) found that Aguilar was totally and permanently disabled and that he had pre-existing impairments that constituted subjective hindrances to his employment. However, the Commission rejected Aguilar’s claim that the ISIF was liable for benefits. Specifically, the Commission found Aguilar’s limitations and restrictions had not materially changed following the second injury. Having drawn that conclusion, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the Commission failed to apply the correct legal test in analyzing the ISIF’s liability. The Court also determined the Commission erred by failing to apply the disjunctive test for causation as set out in Idaho Code section 72-332. As a result of these two errors, the order set out in the Commission’s decision was vacated, and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Aguilar v. Idaho ISIF" on Justia Law

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Mother Jane Doe appealed a magistrate court’s judgment terminating her parental rights to her minor children. The judgment also terminated the parental rights of the children’s father, who appealed in a separate action. The children were placed in the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (the “Department”) following a March 2016 petition under the Child Protection Act (“CPA”). After the filing of the petition, the parents stipulated to an unstable home environment. In June 2016, the magistrate court ordered the parents to follow case plans provided by the Department. Roughly eight months later, the State filed a motion to terminate both parents’ parental rights based on failure to comply with their case plans and prior neglect. After holding a trial, the magistrate court terminated both parents’ parental rights. Mother argued on appeal that the Department did not make adequate efforts to reunify the family and that the magistrate court erred by finding that the Department’s efforts were reasonable. Unpersuaded by Mother’s arguments, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed termination. View "DHW v. Jane Doe" on Justia Law

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Father John Doe appealed a magistrate court’s judgment terminating his parental rights to his minor children. The judgment also terminated the parental rights of the children’s mother (she appealed in a separate action). Prior to the termination, the children and parents were the subject of a Child Protection Act (“CPA”) proceeding for over two years. When the prosecutors first filed a petition under the CPA, the parents were listed with separate addresses, but were living together. However, the parents ended and rekindled their relationship at various times prior to and during the CPA proceeding. By the time of trial, Father and Mother were permanently separated. The Department became involved in early March 2016 after receiving reports of drug use and neglect involving the children. Prior to this, the Department had received referrals for the family on two occasions in 2013 and 2014. The Department’s investigation revealed that both children had been born premature, exposed to drugs in-utero, and tested positive for methamphetamine at birth. Based on these concerns, the Lincoln County Prosecutor’s Office filed a petition under the CPA in March 2016. In June 2016, the court ordered the parents to follow case plans provided by the Department. Eight months later, the State filed a motion to terminate the parental rights of both parents based on failure to comply with the case plan and on prior neglect. After holding a trial, the court terminated both parents’ parental rights. Father argued on appeal the magistrate court’s finding of neglect was not supported by substantial, competent evidence and that the court erred by not considering how Father’s periods of incarceration affected his ability to comply with the case plan. The Idaho Supreme Court was not persuaded by Father’s arguments and affirmed termination. View "DHW v. John Doe" on Justia Law

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John Doe (“Father”) and Jane Doe (“Mother”) appealed a magistrate court's judgment terminating their parental rights to two children (“D.E.” and “T.E.”). The magistrate court terminated Mother and Father’s parental rights on the grounds of neglect and found that termination would be in the best interests of the children. Mother challenged the termination of her parental rights to both children, alleging the magistrate court’s decision was not supported by substantial and competent evidence and that her due process rights were violated when a microphone malfunctioned on days three and four of the termination hearing, resulting in no audio recording for those days. Father claimed the magistrate court erred in denying him a jury trial and in allowing admission of a police video over his objection, and that the magistrate court erred in finding that he failed to comply with his case plan and that the magistrate court’s decision to cease reasonable efforts and visitation was unreasonable. Finding that the magistrate court had substantial and competent evidence to terminate Mother's parental rights to the children, and that her due process rights were not violated when there were issues with the courtroom microphones during hearing days three and four, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed as to the termination of Mother's rights. Similarly, the Court found substantial and competent evidence to support termination of Father's rights; the magistrate court's finding that Father failed to comply with the case plan was reflected in that evidence. The magistrate court’s decision to not reinstate reasonable efforts and allow visitation was supported by substantial and competent evidence. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed termination of Father's rights too. View "DHW v. Jane Doe & John Doe" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (Mother) appealed a magistrate court order terminating her parental rights to her child. The child was born with methamphetamine in her system and was declared in imminent danger, with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare assuming temporary custody. The case plan entered into for parental reunification focused primarily on abstinence from controlled substances and drug treatment. But Mother struggled with beginning drug treatment and repeatedly relapsed into using methamphetamine. The Department petitioned that Mother’s parental rights be terminated. A three-day termination hearing was held and the magistrate court terminated Mother’s parental rights to Child after finding that she neglected the child and that termination was in the child’s best interest. Mother appealed, arguing that the magistrate court’s finding of neglect was not supported by substantial and competent evidence, and that the court erred in determining termination was in the child’s best interest. Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "DHW v. Jane Doe" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Kermit Jackson filed a complaint against Jennifer Crow arising from a 2008 automobile collision. No substantive action took place in the trial court until 2016 when Crow moved for summary judgment. In the interim, Crow filed for bankruptcy in 2014 listing Jackson as a potential unsecured creditor with a claim of unknown value. Jackson filed a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court and eventually received his pro rata share of the distribution of Crow’s assets. Crow received a bankruptcy discharge in 2014, releasing her from personal liability on the claim. Afterwards, Jackson proposed to move forward with this case against Crow as a nominal defendant, seeking to secure a judgment in order to recover from Crow’s insurer, rather than Crow personally. Crow’s motion for summary judgment argued that: (1) allowing Jackson’s case to go forward against her violated the permanent discharge injunction of 11 U.S.C. secs. 524 and 727; (2) even if this procedure did not violate the Bankruptcy Code’s permanent injunction, naming her as a nominal defendant was (a) not permitted by Idaho case law, the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure, and Idaho’s no-direct-action rule, and (b) violated the Bankruptcy Code’s policy of providing her a financial “fresh start.” In a case of first impression, the district court ruled in favor of Crow, reasoning that allowing the case to proceed against Crow would violate 11 U.S.C. 524 by impermissibly causing negative economic consequences for Crow. The district court further reasoned that allowing Jackson to proceed directly against Crow’s insurer would violate the no-direct-action rule and permitting Jackson to proceed against Crow nominally was not permitted by the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure or this Court’s precedent. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in granting Crow summary judgment: the district court misapplied the no-direct-action rule in this case. The judgment was vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Jackson v. Crow" on Justia Law