Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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After Ellen Gittel Gordon defaulted on her mortgage, the loan servicer initiated nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings to sell her home at auction. Gordon submitted multiple loss mitigation applications and appeals in an attempt to keep her home but all were ultimately rejected. As a result, Gordon initiated the underlying action in district court to enjoin the foreclosure sale. Upon the filing of a motion to dismiss that was later converted to a motion for summary judgment, the district court dismissed Gordon’s action and allowed the foreclosure sale to take place. Gordon appealed. Finding no reversible error in the district court judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of Gordon's action. View "Gordon v. U.S. Bank" on Justia Law

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The East Side Highway District (the District) and Gregory and Ellen Delavan (the Delavans) disputed the location of their common boundary relating to a portion of a road, Boothe Park Road, which included a boat ramp located on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The District asserted a claim to the disputed property under two theories: (1) a boundary by agreement that was established by the location of a fence that was erected by the Delavans’ predecessor in interest; and (2) Boothe Park Road and the boat ramp at its termination was a public highway pursuant to Idaho Code section 40-202(3). In response, the Delavans claimed the boat ramp was on their property, and its use by the public has always been, and remained, permissive. Further, the Delavans claimed the fence which was erected by their predecessor in interest was intended to act as a barrier, not a boundary. After two bench trials, the trial court ruled in favor of the Delavans, finding that the public’s use of the boat ramp had been permissive. As a result, the trial court ruled that the District did not have a right to a public easement based on Idaho Code section 40-202(3). Further, the trial court found that the fence had been erected as a barrier, not a boundary. Instead, the trial court found that the intention of the parties at the time the disputed property was conveyed to the Delavans demonstrated that the Delavans owned the property in dispute. The District appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court held there was substantial and competent evidence to support the trial court’s findings that there was no boundary by agreement and that the Delavans owned the property in dispute. However, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the Delavans because there was no hostility requirement in Idaho Code section 40-202(3). Accordingly, the case was remanded to determine whether the District had a public easement under Idaho Code section 40-202(3). View "Eastside Hwy Dist v. Delavan" on Justia Law

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Lamont Bair Enterprises, Inc. (“LBE”) was an Idaho corporation based in Idaho Falls that owned residential rental units. One of LBE’s rental units was a four-plex rental property at 547 South Skyline Drive (“the Property”), served by municipal water lines owned and maintained by the City of Idaho Falls (“the City”). On December 28, 2015, a municipal water main broke, causing water to flow beneath the Property’s driveway, crack the concrete basement floor, and flood the basements of all four rental units. The City received an emergency call for assistance in shutting off the water. Believing the incident to be a service line leak (as opposed to a water main break), the City’s response crew first closed the water service line and waited for confirmation that the water flow had stopped. After the crew received notice that water continued to flow into the basement, they isolated the leak to the water main and began repairing the main line. The water was turned back on the following day, and the road and curb were filled back in. None of LBE’s rental units ever experienced flooding from the city’s water lines prior to this flooding incident at the Property. LBE contended the water main “ruptured” due to negligent care (that “the City neglected its water system to the point that literally miles of pipe became past their design life and in need of replacement”) thus failing to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the water supply system. The district court ruled the City was immune from liability under the Idaho Tort Claims Act’s discretionary function exception. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court did not err in holding that the City is immune from suit pursuant to the discretionary function exception set forth in Idaho Code section 6-904(1). The Court did not reach the merits of the other issues LBE raised on appeal. View "Lamont Bair Enterprises v. City of Idaho Falls" on Justia Law

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Appellants Jerry and JoCarol Losee appeal the district court’s decision granting Deutsche Bank National Trust Company’s motion for summary judgment, arguing the district court erred by refusing to consider their “Chain of Title Analysis” as inadmissible hearsay. The Losees also argue the district court erred in failing to rule on two of their claims against Deutsche Bank. In 2009, the Losees became delinquent in their mortgage payments, eventually defaulting on their home mortgage loan. Over two years after the foreclosure sale was supposed to take place, a second notice of default was recorded on April 20, 2014. However, the foreclosure sale was postponed when the Losees requested a loss mitigation review. The owner of the loan would not allow loan modification, so the Losees were advised that a short sale of the property was the only loss mitigation available. On August 17, 2015, this case commenced when the Losees, acting pro se, filed their “Original Petition for Breach of Contract, Slander of Title for Declaratory Judgment and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Application for Temporary Injunction” (“Complaint”) with the district court. In 2017, the Losees submitted a “Notice of Filing for Judicial Review,” to which they attached a “Chain of Title Analysis.” The “Chain of Title Analysis” was a report resulting from a mortgage fraud investigation conducted by a private investigation company they hired. The district court granted the Bank's motion for summary judgment, concluding there was no breach of the Deed of Trust, title to the property had not been slandered or become clouded by assignment, and that the Chain of Title Analysis was inadmissible hearsay not appropriate for consideration by the court on summary judgment. The Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error in the district court's grant of summary judgment and affirmed. View "Losee v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust" on Justia Law

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Peter Nemeth and his wife Mary Nemeth (deceased), and Peter Nemeth acting as trustee of the Peter and Mary Nemeth Family Trust (collectively, “the Nemeths”), petitioned Shoshone County, Idaho, to validate a public right-of-way across federal land pursuant to Idaho Code section 40-204A and United States Revised Statute 2477 (“R.S. 2477”). The right-of-way followed a road which crossed federal land that Nemeths claimed historically provided access to their property and patented mining claims. When the County failed to act on the petition, the Nemeths filed a declaratory judgment action seeking validation of the right-of-way pursuant to Idaho Code section 40- 208(7). On a motion from the County, the district court dismissed the complaint pursuant to I.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) on grounds that because the Road traversed federal land, only a federal court had jurisdiction to hear the claim, which had to be brought under the federal Quiet Title Act (QTA), 28 U.S.C. section 2409a. The Nemeths appealed, arguing that state courts had jurisdiction to validate rights-of- way on federal land pursuant to R.S. 2477 and that the QTA did not preempt Idaho law that provided for such validation. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed, because the district court erred in dismissing the Nemeths’ action on the basis it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. View "Nemeth v. Shoshone County" on Justia Law

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First Bank of Lincoln (First Bank) challenged a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Land Title of Nez Perce County Incorporated (Land Title). In 2011, First Bank loaned Donald Tuschoff $440,000 to purchase the Hotel Lincoln in Lincoln, Montana. The loan was secured by a deed of trust against the hotel. As additional collateral, Tuschoff assigned First Bank his interest in a note and deed of trust on a bowling alley in Washington. Later, following a sale of the bowling alley, Land Title distributed the proceeds to Tuschoff and other interested parties rather than First Bank. First Bank did not learn of the bowling alley sale until it completed its annual loan review of Tuschoff’s hotel loan. Subsequently, Tuschoff defaulted on the hotel loan. First Bank held a non-judicial foreclosure sale of the hotel and placed a full-credit bid of the approximately $425,000 owed to it by Tuschoff. First Bank was able to later sell the hotel for approximately $190,000. First Bank then initiated several lawsuits against various parties in Washington, Montana, and Idaho, seeking to recover the “deficiency” between what it was owed and for what it sold the hotel. Relevant here was First Bank’s suit against Land Title in Idaho. The district court, applying Montana law, granted summary judgment in favor of Land Title. The court determined that First Bank’s full credit bid extinguished Tuschoff’s debt, and once that debt was extinguished, the assignment of Tuschoff’s interest in the bowling alley as collateral for that debt was also extinguished. The Idaho Supreme Court concurred with this conclusion, and affirmed. View "First Bank of Lincoln v. Land Title of Nez Perce County" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from an unlawful-detainer and breach-of-contract action filed by Caldwell Land and Cattle, LLC, (“CLC”) after purchasing a building where the holdover tenant, Johnson Thermal Systems (“JTS”), asserted a right to remain on the property. The dispute centered on the interpretation of a lease between JTS and the original property owner which granted JTS an option to extend the lease. JTS contended it properly exercised the option; CLC contends JTS did not. The district court held that JTS failed to exercise the option and thus became a holdover tenant. The court further held that when JTS did not vacate within the proper timeframe, JTS unlawfully detained the premises and was liable for the ensuing damages. JTS appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. The district court’s amended final judgment and its order of attorney’s fees was remanded, however, for reentry of damages consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion , and for reconsideration of attorney’s fees. View "Caldwell Land & Cattle v. Johnson Thermal" on Justia Law

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The Fletchers owned property in the Twin Lakes Meadows Subdivision in Kootenai County, Idaho. Some of the lots, but not all, adjoin or connect to a private gravel and dirt road known as “Lone Mountain Road” which ran through the subdivision. road. Over the years, because Delores Fletcher suffered from asthma, the Fletchers used asphalt grindings, oiling, and other dust control methods, at their own expense, to abate the dust on the stretch of road adjacent to their property. Disputes arose for several contentious years between the Fletchers and the “Lone Mountain Road Association” - i.e. the Fletchers’ neighbors - over the payment of maintenance costs incurred by the Association, attempts to stop the Fletchers from utilizing their own dust control methods, and the repair of potholes. The disputes came to a head in 2009 when the Association made written demand that the Fletchers stop oiling Lone Mountain Road. In response to their neighbors’ demand, the Fletchers brought a declaratory judgment action, seeking a declaration which outlined the rights and responsibilities of subdivision property owners with respect to Lone Mountain Road. The Fletchers also brought a claim for trespass against defendants Alan Sims and Lone Mountain Road Association. Counterclaims were filed against the Fletchers alleging nuisance. The district court dismissed the nuisance claims in June of 2015, and later dismissed the trespass claims as well, leaving only the issue of the declaration of the rights and responsibilities of the lot owners for maintenance of Lone Mountain Road. The Fletchers appealed the district court’s denial of attorney fees on remand after an amended judgment was entered in their favor. The district court awarded some costs to the Fletchers as the prevailing parties but found that the subdivision’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), which governed this dispute, did not provide a basis for an award of attorney fees. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision, holding that the Fletchers’ declaratory judgment action constituted an “enforcement action” under section 5.1 of the CC&Rs. The matter was remanded for a determination of the amount of reasonable attorney fees to be awarded and apportionment of those fees against the parties. View "Fletcher v. Lone Mtn Rd Association" on Justia Law

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After a dispute over a fence project, the Eagle Springs Homeowner’s Association (“HOA”) filed a complaint seeking injunctive relief against Jan Rodina, a homeowner in the HOA. Rodina asserted, among other defenses, that the HOA approved his project and waived the right to enforce certain provisions of the subdivision’s Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”). The district court awarded summary judgment in favor of the HOA and granted injunctive relief. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the HOA did not approve his project as built and that Rodina failed to show that a genuine issue of material fact precluded the award of summary judgment against him. View "Eagle Springs HOA v. Rodina" on Justia Law

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After Ellen Gittel Gordon defaulted on her mortgage, the loan servicer initiated nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings to sell her home at auction. Gordon submitted multiple loan modification applications and appeals in an attempt to keep her home but ultimately, all were rejected. As a result, Gordon initiated the underlying action in district court to enjoin the foreclosure sale. Upon the filing of a motion to dismiss that was later converted to a motion for summary judgment, the district court dismissed Gordon’s action and allowed the foreclosure sale to take place. Gordon timely appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded none of the reasons Gordon offered were sufficient to reverse the district court judgment, and affirmed dismissal of Gordon’s complaint. View "Gordon v. U.S. Bank" on Justia Law