Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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This case presented the Idaho Supreme Court with a fundamental, but previously unanswered, question: what duty is owed by a hospital to someone who is on its premises solely to visit one of its patients? Summary judgment was entered against Victor Dupuis in a premises liability case brought against a hospital, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Dupuis was visiting his hospitalized wife in January 2017 when he slipped and fell on ice in the hospital’s parking lot. Dupuis sued the hospital, alleging inadequate snow and ice removal in the parking lot caused him to fall. Dupuis argued that the hospital had breached the duty of care it owed to him as an invitee. The district court granted the hospital’s motion for summary judgment, holding that Dupuis was a licensee, and the hospital did not have superior knowledge of the dangerous conditions over that of Dupuis, and, therefore, the hospital did not breach any duty owed to Dupuis. Dupuis appealed, arguing the district court erred in determining that he was a mere licensee, rather than an invitee, and that even if he were a licensee, the hospital assumed and subsequently breached a duty of care to keep the property in reasonably safe condition. The Supreme Court found Dupuis was an invitee, thereby reversing the district court’s grant of summary judgment, vacating the judgment entered, and remanding the case for further proceedings. View "Dupuis v. Eastern Idaho Health Services Inc." on Justia Law

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Mary Clare Griffin purchased a bottle of Italian wine, which broke in her hands as she attempted to open it, causing substantial injuries. Griffin and her son, a minor who witnessed the event, brought a product liability suit against Zignago Vetro S.P.A. (Zignago), the Italian manufacturer of the wine bottle; Marchesi Antinori SRL (Antinori), the Italian wine company that purchased the bottle from Zignago, filled it with wine, and exported it to the United States; Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Ltd. (Ste. Michelle), the United States importer; S & C Importers and Distributors, Inc. (S&C), the Idaho distributor who purchased the bottle from Ste. Michelle; and, Albertson’s LLC (Albertson’s), the retailer that sold the bottle to Griffin. Zignago successfully moved the district court to dismiss Griffin’s complaint based on a lack of personal jurisdiction. Griffin appealed the district court’s decision, asking the Court of Appeal to apply the personal jurisdiction framework established by World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286 (1980). Griffin also appealed the district court’s order granting summary judgment to Antinori and Ste. Michelle on the grounds that Griffin failed to meet her burden to show a prima facie case for a product liability claim. Additionally, Griffin appealed several adverse discovery rulings. The Idaho Supreme Court found the correct test when determining personal jurisdictional issues remained the “stream of commerce” test adopted by the United States Supreme Court in World-Wide Volkswagen. Applying that test to the case here, the Court reversed the district court’s decision to grant Zignago’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court affirmed the district court’s decision granting Antinori’s and Ste. Michelle’s motions for summary judgment, finding it did not abuse its discretion in failing to grant Griffin’s motion to compel discovery against Antinori and Ste. Michelle. View "Griffin v. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates LTD." on Justia Law

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Greg and Cyndi Gomersall filed suit on behalf of their minor child, W.G.G., claiming he received negligent medical treatment at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center (SLRMC) in Boise when he was injured in December 2010. W.G.G. was 6 years old at the time of the incident. The Gomersalls filed suit against SLRMC on January 25, 2019, more than eight years after W.G.G. was alleged to have been injured. SLRMC moved for summary judgment on the basis that the Gomersalls’ medical malpractice action was time-barred under Idaho Code sections 5-219(4) and 5-230. The district court granted SLRMC’s motion and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The Gomersalls contended on appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court that the district court erred because Idaho Code section 5-230 was unconstitutional. Specifically, they argued that section 5-230 violated W.G.G.’s due process and equal protection rights by failing to toll the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims until the age of majority. They also contended the district court erred when it held that the doctrine of equitable estoppel did not preclude SLRMC’s statute of limitations defense. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of SLRMC. View "Gomersall v. St. Luke's Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether claimant Curtis Stanley filed a timely complaint against the Industrial Special Indemnity Fund ("ISIF") when Stanley filed his complaint more than five years after his industrial accident and more than one year after receiving his last payment of income benefits. The Idaho Industrial Commission (“Commission”) held it did not have continuing jurisdiction to entertain Stanley’s complaint against ISIF for non-medical benefits. The Commission found Idaho Code section 72-706 barred Stanley’s complaint and dismissed it. Stanley appealed, arguing continuing jurisdiction over medical benefits alone was sufficient to confer jurisdiction over complaints against ISIF and that the Commission erred in determining section 72-706 barred his complaint. Finding the Commission erred in determining section 72-706 barred Stanley's complaint, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s decision. View "Stanley v. Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a domestic dispute between Analli Salla and Duane Siercke, and centered on whether any privilege from defamation claims applied to statements made to law enforcement. Salla appealed the district court’s entry of judgment and denial of her motion for a new trial. After misdemeanor domestic battery charges against him were dropped, Siercke filed a civil action against Salla alleging, among other things, defamation. Following a five-day trial, a jury awarded Siercke $25,000.00 on his defamation claim. Salla filed a motion for a new trial, contending the district court erred in instructing the jury on defamation per se because her statements to law enforcement were privileged and her statements did not allege that Siercke had committed a felony. The district court denied the motion and Salla appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court: (1) affirmed the district court’s decision refusing to apply an absolute litigation privilege to the statements made by Salla to law enforcement officers; (2) could not address whether the district court erred in not giving a qualified privilege instruction because that issue was never raised below; and (3) the district court erred in delivering a defamation per se instruction; and (4) reversed the district court’s final judgment and order on Salla’s motion for a new trial. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Siercke v. Siercke" 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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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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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

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Plaintiff-appellant Nicole Packer was injured when she fell from an unlit loading dock at the Kingston Plaza in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Packer, working as a vendor at a Christmas-themed exposition, alleged she had been directed to use the rear exit by a representative of Riverbend Communications, LLC, the organizer of the exposition and the occupier of the property at the heart of this litigation. The rear exit was unlit, and when Packer left the building, she was unable to re-enter. Because of the lack of light, Packer did not realize she was on a loading dock which was five feet above the adjoining pavement. When she proceeded towards the lit parking lot, she fell to the asphalt and was seriously injured. Packer sued Kingston Properties (owner of the property), as well as Riverbend Communications, LLC. Following discovery, the defendants sought and were granted summary judgment. Packer unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration. She timely appealed the district court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of Riverbend. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Riverbend because Packer was an invitee; the district court erred as a matter of law in determining Packer was a licensee. Because Packer was an invitee, Riverbend owed her the duty to warn her of hidden or concealed dangers and to keep the property in reasonably safe condition. On these facts, the Supreme Court concluded a jury could have reasonably concluded that Riverbend breached either or both of the duties it owed to Packer. Accordingly, the district court’s decision granting summary judgment was reversed. View "Packer v. Riverbend Communications" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of a stabbing that took place outside of an Idaho Falls bar. Steven and Audra Fell were patrons of the First Street Saloon, owned and operated by Fat Smitty’s L.L.C. (Fat Smitty’s). Towards the end of the evening, an altercation took place that resulted in Steven Fell being stabbed by another patron, LaDonna Hall. The Fells filed a complaint against Fat Smitty’s, alleging Fat Smitty’s breached its duty to: (1) warn the Fells, as invitees, of any hidden or concealed dangers in the bar; (2) keep the bar in a reasonably safe condition; and (3) protect the Fells from reasonably foreseeable injury at the hands of other patrons at the bar. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Fat Smitty’s, ruling that the Fells’ claims were barred by Idaho’s Dram Shop Act because the Fells failed to give Fat Smitty’s timely notice of their claims. The Fells appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Fell v. Fat Smitty's" on Justia Law