Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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This case arose out of Richard Gomez’s breach of a real estate agreement for the sale and purchase of residential real estate from Todd Phillips in his capacity as Trustee of Trust “A” of the Elliott Family Trust. Phillips appeals a district court’s denial of Phillips’s request to recover actual damages. After a bench trial, the district court held that Phillips’s claim for breach of contract had been fully satisfied by Phillips’s retention of the non-refundable earnest money as liquidated damages as provided by the agreement. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Phillips v. Gomez" on Justia Law

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Kenneth and Donna Johnson appealed a district court judgment recognizing a tribal judgment from the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Court (Tribal Court). The Johnsons owned land within the Coeur d’Alene Reservation (Reservation) on the banks of the St. Joe River and had a dock and pilings on the river. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe (Tribe) initiated an action in Tribal Court to enforce a tribal statute which required a permit for docks on the St. Joe River within the Reservation. The Johnsons did not appear and a default judgment was entered against them. The judgment imposed a civil penalty of $17,400 and declared that the Tribe was entitled to remove the dock and pilings. On January 2016, the Tribe filed a petition to have the Tribal Court judgment recognized in Idaho pursuant to the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. I.C. sections 10-1301, et seq. The district court held the Tribal Judgment was valid and enforceable, entitled to full faith and credit. However, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court was incorrect in holding the Tribal Judgment was entitled to full faith and credit, and the civil penalty was not entitled to recognition in Idaho courts. However, the Idaho Supreme Court held the Tribal Court had jurisdiction over the Johnsons and the subject matter of this case; the Johnsons did not meet their burden of establishing the Tribal Court did not have jurisdiction, and the Johnsons were afforded due process in Tribal Court. In this case the judgment comprised two parts: (1) the civil penalty of $17,400; and (2) the declaration that the Tribe had the right to remove the offending encroachment. The civil penalty was not enforceable under principles of comity. However, the penal law rule does not prevent courts from recognizing declaratory judgments of foreign courts. Therefore, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court’s judgment to the extent that it recognized the Tribal Court’s judgment imposing the civil penalty of $17,400. The Court affirmed the judgment recognizing the Tribal Court judgment regarding the Tribe’s right to remove the dock and pilings. View "Coeur d' Alene Tribe v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of the foreclosure of nine commercial condominium units owned by Michael Hulsey and SM Commercial Properties, LLC. Prior to a sheriff’s sale, SM Commercial Properties filed bankruptcy. Eventually the bankruptcy stay was lifted and the sale took place. Washington Federal bought the property with a credit bid and then asserted a deficiency against Hulsey. The district court found that Washington Federal failed to prove both the existence of a deficiency as well as the fair market value of the property. On appeal, Washington Federal argued: (1) Hulsey was precluded from litigating the fair market value of the property based on the bankruptcy court proceedings; and (2) the district court erred when it determined that Washington Federal failed to prove the existence of the deficiency and the fair market value of the property. Both parties appealed the district court’s denial of attorney’s fees, but Hulsey dismissed his cross-appeal at the time of oral argument. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of Washington Federal’s claim for a deficiency, but vacated the judgment denying Washington Federal’s costs and attorney’s fees incurred to enforce the judgment and decree of foreclosure. View "Washington Federal v. Hulsey" on Justia Law

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This is an easement dispute between two adjoining landowners and a claim to quiet title. Plaintiffs Bedard and Musser, and Boise Hollow Land Holdings, RLLP (collectively, Boise Hollow) filed suit against Boise City seeking a declaration that they: (1) hold an access easement over part of Quail Hollow Golf Course pursuant to a recorded Permanent Easement Agreement; and (2) were entitled to expand the easement area to comply with certain requirements of the Ada County Highway District so that it can be dedicated as a public road. The district court rejected Boise Hollow’s position on summary judgment, finding that the agreement did not create an easement because the entity which purported to grant the easement across the golf course property had only a leasehold interest at the time the agreement was signed. Moreover, the same party owned both the land where the easement was located (the servient estate) and the land to which the easement was appurtenant (the dominant estate). The district court further found that any access that was granted by the lessor under the agreement terminated when the leasehold was terminated by an express agreement. The district court entered judgment in favor of Boise City. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Bedard & Musser v. City of Boise" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether a prescriptive easement across a parcel of land was extinguished by operation of former Idaho Code section 63-10091 when that parcel was sold by tax deed. The Owens purchased a small parcel of land (“the Orphan Parcel”) from Kootenai County after a tax sale. A dispute arose as to whether the Regans had the right to drive across the parcel. The Regans sued the Owens to reform the tax deed to include an express easement and to establish a prescriptive easement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Regans, finding the Owens’ deed contained a mutual mistake and should be reformed to reflect an express easement that the original grantors intended. The Owens appealed and the Supreme Court held that the deed should not be reformed, vacated a portion of the district court’s judgment, and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Owens, finding that any prescriptive easement was extinguished by Idaho Code section 63-1009. The Regans appealed, but shortly after filing, the Idaho Legislature amended Idaho Code section 63-1009. The new version of 63-1009 did not apply retroactively, and the Supreme Court determined the trial court was correct in finding any prescriptive easement was extinguished by the old law. View "Regan v. Owen" on Justia Law

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Appellants Ronald and Margaret Swafford challenged a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondent Huntsman Springs, Inc. The action stemmed from the Swaffords’ claim that Huntsman Springs essentially cut off their property from the development by building a park and planting trees between their lot and the nearby street and development, and in doing so: (1) breached a contract; (2) breached an express warranty; (3) breached their duty of good faith and fair dealing; (4) violated the Idaho Consumer Protection Act; and (5) made false representations. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Huntsman Springs after concluding that all of the Swaffords’ claims were barred by the applicable statutes of limitation. The crux of the Swaffords’ action is that Huntsman Springs breached the Contract by failing to develop the surrounding area in conformance with the Master Plan of the development, i.e., by constructing the park that separated their property from the rest of the development. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Master Plan was not incorporated or referenced by the Swaffords' Contract; therefore, it did not contractually obligate Huntsman Springs. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Huntsman Springs. View "Swafford v. Huntsman Springs" on Justia Law

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John Fuquay, Clinton Fuquay, and Hailey Fuquay (the Fuquays), appeal the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Gilbert King, as Trustee of the Heart K Ranch Trust, the Estate of Gordon King, Rose King (the Kings), Susie Low, and Cal Low (the Lows), and the denial of the Fuquays’ motion for reconsideration in a property dispute concerning an alleged prescriptive easement in favor of the Fuquays across the Kings’ and Lows’ property. At various times throughout the year, the Kings grazed cattle over "King Lane." Until 2014, the Kings had barbed wire gates on both the east and west ends of King Lane to enclose their livestock. Anyone attempting to use King Lane had to stop, open, and then close the gates. In 2014, the Kings placed large iron gates across each end of King Lane. The Fuquays purchased their property in 1977. Contrary to Rose King’s testimony, the Fuquays claimed they have continuously used large semi-trucks, cattle trucks, farm vehicles, and personal vehicles to cross King Lane since 1977. In 2014, John Fuquay divided the Fuquay property into parcels for sale. At that time, the Fuquays discovered that there was no recorded easement for the benefit of the Fuquay property for access by way of King Lane. In the summer of 2014, a dispute also arose between the Kings and the Fuquays regarding the iron gates that the Kings placed at each end of King Lane.The district court concluded that because the Kings had annually improved King Lane since 1973 to create an all-weather roadway, the correct presumption was that of permissive use. The district court further concluded the Fuquays failed to present evidence that their use of King Lane interfered in any way with the Kings’ use of the roadway. The district court entered it judgment as to the claims between the Fuquays and the Lows. The Fuquays timely appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed judgment in favor of the Kings. View "Fuquay v. Low" on Justia Law

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Rocky and Delores Fletcher (“the Fletchers”) appealed a district court judgment in which they sought a declaratory judgment outlining the rights and responsibilities of property owners in the Twin Lakes Meadows Subdivision (“Subdivision”) with respect to a private road known as Lone Mountain Road (“Subdivision Road” or “the Road”). The district court determined that the Subdivision’s Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”) were ambiguous and contrary to Idaho easement law. After finding that the CC&Rs were ambiguous, the district court declared that all lot owners who used the Road had the right to make reasonable repairs to the Road. The Fletchers argued on appeal the district court erred when it found the CC&Rs to be ambiguous and that they should be strictly applied. The Fletchers also argued the district court erred when it failed to declare that dust from the Road created an additional burden on their servient estate and by failing to declare that the Lone Mountain Road Association had no right to maintain the Road or to collect assessments. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court as to its findings that the CC&Rs were ambiguous and there was a waiver of the right to obtain contributions from lot owners that do not use the Road. The Court affirmed the district court’s judgment that road dust did not create an additional burden on the Fletchers’ estate. View "Fletcher v. Lone Mountain Rd Assoc" on Justia Law

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Whitney Bright appealed the grant of summary judgment to Roman and Natalya Maznik. The Mazniks owned property who leased an apartment to James and Katherine Thomas, owners of a Belgian Shepherd. When Bright visited the Thomas’ apartment in an effort to collect on a debt, the Thomas’ dog attacked her. Bright then lodged a complaint against the Mazniks, alleging various tort claims arising from the attack. The district court granted the Mazniks’ motion for summary judgment, finding the Mazniks owed no duty to protect Bright from the Thomas' dog. Therefore, the district court's grant of summary judgment on Bright's tort claims was proper, and the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bright v. Maznik" on Justia Law

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Travis Forbush and Gretchen Hymas, individually and as natural parents of McQuen Forbush and Breanna Halowell (Appellants), appealed the grant of summary judgment to Respondents Sagecrest Multifamily Property Owners’ Association, Inc., and its President, Jon Kalsbeek. Forbush and Halowell were overnight guests of a tenant who leased a unit at the Sagecrest Apartment Complex (Sagecrest). During the night, hazardous levels of carbon monoxide filled the unit, killing Forbush and injuring Halowell. Appellants brought tort claims against Respondents after the incident. Appellants contended the district court erred by granting summary judgment to the POA because triable issues of fact surrounded whether the POA: (1) owed a premises liability-based duty of care; (2) owed a duty of care it acquired as a result of voluntary undertakings; and (3) was vicariously liable for First Rate Property Management's (FRPM - the POA's contract maintenance) conduct. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s summary judgment order. The Court affirmed that summary judgment was proper as to whether the POA owed a premises liability-based duty of care. However, summary judgment was improper as to whether the POA and Kalsbeek acquired a duty of care as a result of voluntary undertakings, and whether the POA was vicariously liable for FRPM’s conduct. View "Forbush & Hymas v. Sagecrest POA" on Justia Law