Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The humans in the events giving rise to this lawsuit were related by blood or marriage: Stephen Boswell was married to Karena Boswell; Karena is Mary Steele’s daughter; Amber was Mary Steele’s granddaughter and owned a Scottish terrier named Zoey. Amber and Zoey lived in Mary’s home. Stephen and Karena Boswell appealed a judgment entered in favor of Amber Steele and the Estate of Mary Steele. The Boswells sought to recover damages for injuries suffered by Stephen after he was bitten by Zoey. Before the case was submitted to the jury, the district court ruled that all of the Boswells’ claims sounded in negligence and so instructed the jury, rejecting the Boswells’ proposed jury instructions on common law and statutory strict liability. The jury found that the Steeles were not negligent and the district court entered judgment consistent with that verdict. The Idaho Supreme Court found that the Boswells were entitled to have the jury instructed on theories other than negligence. The instructions given by the trial court did not accurately convey the elements of a common law dog bite case in Idaho, nor did they contemplate a cause of action arising from the Pocatello Municipal Code. As such, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "Boswell v. Steele" on Justia Law

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Michael Johnson suffered injuries after he slipped and fell on a liquid while walking in the housewares department of a Wal-Mart store. Johnson knew neither the source of the substance, nor how long it had been on the floor. Additionally, none of Wal-Mart’s surveillance cameras captured the initial spill or Johnson’s fall. Johnson filed a complaint alleging Wal-Mart, which has issued an internal statement to its employees that spills are largely responsible for slip/trip/fall accidents in its stores, was negligent for failing to warn him of the potential for spills. Johnson claims that the store’s business practice of allowing patrons to carry liquids throughout the store should have put Wal-Mart on notice that spills were foreseeable anywhere. Wal-Mart filed a motion for summary judgment based on its lack of actual or constructive notice of the spill. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Wal-Mart. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed, finding the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for Wal-Mart since no evidence demonstrated a genuine issue of material fact regarding Wal-Mart’s liability for Johnson’s fall. View "Johnson v. Wal-Mart" on Justia Law

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Elfego Marquez illegally immigrated from Mexico to the United States. After entering the United States, Marquez went to southern California, where he purchased a social security card and used it to obtain employment washing dishes at a restaurant. After working in California for approximately seven months, Marquez moved to Emmett, Idaho and soon after began working at Pierce Painting. Marquez’s primary job at Pierce Painting was to prepare buildings to be painted. Pierce Painting knew Marquez was an undocumented immigrant and that his social security card was not legally issued to him. Not long after beginning at Pierce Painting, a supervisor received a notice of garnishment associated with the social security number used by Marquez. Evidently, the individual to whom the social security number had been legally issued had an outstanding child support delinquency. The supervisor instructed Marquez to obtain a different social security card. In 2010, Marquez was standing on two five gallon buckets stacked on top of each other to reach an area above a tall doorway when he fell onto a concrete floor fracturing his right wrist and injuring his right arm and shoulder. His right wrist was put into a cast and he eventually underwent multiple right shoulder surgeries. His doctor recommended permanent restrictions on overhead activities and that Marquez not return to his position at Pierce Painting. Marquez subsequently filed a workers’ compensation complaint. Pierce Painting through its surety, the State Insurance Fund (“SIF”), paid Marquez’s medical bills, total temporary disability benefits, and permanent partial impairment benefits. SIF did not pay Marquez’s permanent disability benefits, claiming that Marquez was not eligible for permanent disability due to his status as an undocumented immigrant. The Industrial Commission (the “Commission”) disagreed and ordered that Marquez was entitled to pursue a claim for permanent disability without reference to his status as an undocumented immigrant. Pierce Painting and SIF appealed the Commission's order. The Idaho Supreme Court found the Commission erred in finding Marquez could pursue a permanent disability claim without reference to his status as an undocumented immigrant. The governing statute stated: “A person, including a minor, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed . . .” shall constitute an employee who is entitled to coverage and benefits under the Act. "If the Idaho Legislature desired to create an absolute bar for permanent disability for those 'unlawfully employed' within the Act, it was free to do so when it amended the Act and removed the agricultural pursuits exemption in 1996 or thereafter. Moreover, if the Legislature wanted to prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving a benefit under the workers’ compensation statutes, it could have created an express prohibition in that regard—just like it did regarding unemployment benefits." View "Marquez v. Pierce Painting" on Justia Law

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Ibrahim and Halida Ekic (the Ekics) and the estate of Aldina Ekic appealed district court decisions to grant summary judgment to Geico Indemnity Company (Geico) on their claims of breach of contract, misrepresentations in the inducement, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory estoppel and to award attorney fees to Geico. Aldina was killed in an automobile accident caused by the negligence of a third party. The Ekics recovered the total policy proceeds of $25,000 from the third party’s insurance carrier. The Ekics demanded payment from Geico for the payment of $25,000 under Aldina’s underinsured motorist policy. Geico refused to issue a payment under the language of the policy. The Ekics filed suit. Sometime after Geico filed an answer, Geico filed a motion for summary judgment with a supporting affidavit from Geico’s counsel that included a copy of the Ekics’ answers to several interrogatories, a copy of Aldina’s Geico policy, and the vehicle collision report for the accident involving Aldina and the third party. The district court granted summary judgment for Geico on each of these claims. The Ekics then amended their complaint, with the permission of the district court, to add the additional claim of promissory estoppel and Geico filed an amended answer. Counsel for Geico advised the district court during a scheduling conference that Geico would be filing a motion for summary judgment on the additional claim. At the hearing, the district court granted Geico’s motion for summary judgment because the court found that “even viewing all the facts in light most favorable to the Plaintiff, there was no admissible evidence to support” their claim. The Ekics filed a motion to set aside the judgment which was denied by the district court. Geico requested attorney fees and the district court awarded them pursuant to Idaho Code section 41- 1839(4). The Ekics argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Geico, but finding no such error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgments. View "Ekic v. Geico" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was what constituted “good cause” for failing to timely serve a defendant in accordance with the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure. The case began with a May 2014 auto collision in Idaho Falls involving Melanie Hansen and Gary White. Hansen claimed White’s negligence caused the collision, and she filed a complaint against him in May 2016. Process servers attempted to serve White in October 2016 at the address listed on the police report, which was taken from his driver’s license, but White had not lived at that address for years. Days before the six-month deadline, Hansen attempted service by publication without obtaining a court order as required by statute. The process server also left the complaint and summons with White’s daughter-in-law at the address listed on the police report. White filed a motion to dismiss for lack of service in November 2016. The district court initially found that good cause existed for Hansen’s failure to timely serve White, but after holding a hearing on White’s subsequent motion for reconsideration, dismissed the claim without prejudice for failure to timely serve. Hansen appealed the dismissal. Finding no reversible error, however, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hansen v. White" on Justia Law

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Animal Control Officer Laurie Deus responded to a report of a vicious dog. When she arrived on scene, a black and white pit bull, later identified as “Bo,” aggressively charged anyone who got near him. Bo was declared aggressive, and later dangerous. Mark and Robyn Munkhoffs’ son Sam Munkhoff (“Sam”) was Bo’s owner, and Bo was kept on the Munkoff’s property. Months later, Officer Deus received a report of a dog bite that occurred near the Munkhoffs’ home. The owner of the dog was identified as Sam. Sam was cited for having an animal running at large, an animal attacking, biting or chasing, and Bo was declared dangerous. The responding animal control officer cited Mark too, whose dog Dexter was also running at large. Mark told the officer that “Sam is absolutely not allowed to move back in nor is he allowed to bring Bo back even for a visit.” Officers tried to locate Sam and Bo; Mark told officers on the phone that “if that dog shows up [I] will shoot it.” Bo bit the Munkoffs’ neighbor, Klaus Kummerling. The Kummerlings filed a complaint, alleging claims for negligence, gross negligence, outrage, and nuisance against the City of Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Ron Clark, the Munkhoffs, and Sam. The Kummerlings did not allege in their complaint that the Munkhoffs were vicariously liable for Sam’s conduct. The district court dismissed the claims against the City and Chief Clark. The Munkhoffs filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted as to all claims except the claim for negligence. Sam, who represented himself, did not join in the Munkhoffs’ summary judgment motion. This case was tried to a jury, and the jury returned a special verdict, finding that the Munkhoffs and their son Sam were negligent, negligent per se, and that their negligence was the actual and proximate cause of Kummerling’s injuries. The jury allocated fault and calculated damages. Kummerling was awarded $16,603.00 in economic damages and $185,000.00 in non-economic damages. The Munkhoffs moved for a new trial pursuant to Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A), (F), and (G), for remittitur pursuant to Idaho Code section 6-807 and Rule 59.1, and for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3). The district court denied the motions, and a judgment was entered on November 7, 2016. On December 14, 2016, the Munkhoffs timely appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error in the trial court’s decision and affirmed. View "Litke v. Munkhoff" on Justia Law

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Animal Control Officer Laurie Deus responded to a report of a vicious dog. When she arrived on scene, a black and white pit bull, later identified as “Bo,” aggressively charged anyone who got near him. Bo was declared aggressive, and later dangerous. Mark and Robyn Munkhoffs’ son Sam Munkhoff (“Sam”) was Bo’s owner, and Bo was kept on the Munkoff’s property. Months later, Officer Deus received a report of a dog bite that occurred near the Munkhoffs’ home. The owner of the dog was identified as Sam. Sam was cited for having an animal running at large, an animal attacking, biting or chasing, and Bo was declared dangerous. The responding animal control officer cited Mark too, whose dog Dexter was also running at large. Mark told the officer that “Sam is absolutely not allowed to move back in nor is he allowed to bring Bo back even for a visit.” Officers tried to locate Sam and Bo; Mark told officers on the phone that “if that dog shows up [I] will shoot it.” Bo bit the Munkoffs’ neighbor, Klaus Kummerling. The Kummerlings filed a complaint, alleging claims for negligence, gross negligence, outrage, and nuisance against the City of Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Ron Clark, the Munkhoffs, and Sam. The Kummerlings did not allege in their complaint that the Munkhoffs were vicariously liable for Sam’s conduct. The district court dismissed the claims against the City and Chief Clark. The Munkhoffs filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted as to all claims except the claim for negligence. Sam, who represented himself, did not join in the Munkhoffs’ summary judgment motion. This case was tried to a jury, and the jury returned a special verdict, finding that the Munkhoffs and their son Sam were negligent, negligent per se, and that their negligence was the actual and proximate cause of Kummerling’s injuries. The jury allocated fault and calculated damages. Kummerling was awarded $16,603.00 in economic damages and $185,000.00 in non-economic damages. The Munkhoffs moved for a new trial pursuant to Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A), (F), and (G), for remittitur pursuant to Idaho Code section 6-807 and Rule 59.1, and for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3). The district court denied the motions, and a judgment was entered on November 7, 2016. On December 14, 2016, the Munkhoffs timely appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error in the trial court’s decision and affirmed. View "Litke v. Munkhoff" on Justia Law

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The grant of summary judgment dismissed an action originally brought by Diane Brooks against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (“Wal-Mart”) based on injuries Brooks received when she slipped and fell on a puddle of water near a Rug Doctor self-service kiosk (the “kiosk”) inside a store in Boise, Idaho. Brooks based her claims on premises liability and negligent mode of operation, alleging Wal-Mart knew or should have known that water could spill or leak onto the floor near the kiosk. Wal-Mart moved for summary judgment, arguing that Brooks failed to establish Wal-Mart had actual or constructive notice of the condition that caused her injury, because there was no evidence showing where the liquid came from, how long it had been on the floor, or what it was. The district court agreed; the Supreme Court did not. The Supreme Court found material issues of fact existed, thus precluding summary judgment. The case was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Brooks v. Wal-Mart" on Justia Law

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Edgar and Laurie Cook owned 200 acres of property in Bonner County, Idaho. The Property included Bloom Lake, a cabin, and a campground. The Cooks allowed people to use the lake and campground without charging a fee, but they solicited voluntary donations to help with the Property’s upkeep. Approximately twenty years ago, Michael Chisholm asked the Cooks if he could stay in the cabin in exchange for maintaining the Property. They agreed, and Chisholm began caring for the Property. In 2015, Joseph Stanczak and his girlfriend were camping at the Property. Chisholm invited them into the cabin, and a dispute later arose between Chisholm and Stanczak. Chisholm shot Stanczak twice with a .45 caliber handgun, then left the scene. Authorities later apprehended Chisholm and charged him with Aggravated Battery and Use of a Deadly Weapon in Commission of a Felony. Chisholm entered an Alford plea, by which he pleaded guilty without admitting guilt as to all the elements of the crimes. He was sentenced to prison. At issue in this was was the interpretation of the insuring clause of a bodily injury liability provision in a property insurance contract. The insurer, Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho, determined it had no duty to defend or indemnify the Cooks because the shooting was not a covered act under the policy. Farm Bureau filed a declaratory judgment action seeking judicial confirmation of its determination. Farm Bureau then filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting that the district court find as a matter of law that the intentional shooting was not an “occurrence.” The district court granted Farm Bureau’s motion. Finding no reversible error in the district court's decision, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed judgment in favor of Farm Bureau. View "Farm Bureau Ins v. Cook" on Justia Law

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Charles Hartgrave appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission (the Commission) order. Hartgrave sustained injuries to his left knee while working for the City of Twin Falls (the City) on February 3, 2009, and August 23, 2012. Although Hartgrave’s left knee injuries and corresponding treatments were covered by Idaho’s Workers Compensation Act, Hartgrave argued the left knee injuries aggravated preexisting degenerative joint disease in his right knee and ultimately required a total knee arthroplasty (TKA) in his right knee. The Commission rejected Hartgrave’s position and ruled that Hartgrave’s right TKA was not compensable. Finding no reversible error in the Commission's order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hartgrave v. City of Twin Falls" on Justia Law