Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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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

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This appeal stemmed from a disputed water right relating to the St. Joe River in Benewah County, Idaho, between a landowner and the tenants who put the water to beneficial use. The license at issue described the water right as “appurtenant to the described place of use.” The landowner argued the water right was appurtenant to his land, while the tenants contended the right was developed and owned by their predecessors in interest and now belonged to them by virtue of their having purchased the interest. The district court ultimately adopted the Special Master’s report and issued a partial decree, which listed the tenants as the owner of the license. Finding no reversible error in that decision, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "McInturff v . Shippy" on Justia Law

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Eagle Creek Irrigation Company (“Eagle Creek”) appealed a district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of A.C. & C.E. Investments, Inc. The dispute centered on 15 shares of Eagle Creek stock which authorized the holder to divert 30 cfs of water (or 15 miner’s inches) of Eagle Creek’s water right. AC&CE Investments purchased 15 acres (“the Property”) located within Eagle Creek’s boundaries. The prior property owners also owned 15 shares in Eagle Creek stock. The question presented on appeal was whether the 15 shares passed as an appurtenance to the Property. The district court ruled that AC&CE Investments acquired 15 shares in Eagle Creek when it acquired title to the Property because the shares passed as an appurtenance to the Property. Eagle Creek appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting summary judgment to AC&CE Investments because the district court did not look to Eagle Creek’s governing documents. The Supreme Court therefore vacated the portion of the district court’s final judgment which stated that the 15 shares of the Eagle Creek stock were appurtenant to the Property. View "Eagle Creek Irrigation v. A.C & C.E Investments" on Justia Law

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Buck and Laurie Graybill appealed an award of attorney fees to Regdab, Inc., following entry of a default judgment against them in an action to foreclose on a mechanic’s lien. Graybill objected to the award of attorney fees and costs because Regdab failed to plead in its complaint a specific dollar amount for attorney fees in the event of default as required by Idaho Rule of Procedure 54(e)(4)(B). The district court ruled that the Rule 54(e)(4)(B) pleading requirement was inconsistent with Idaho Code section 45-513, the provision which mandated an award of certain costs and reasonable attorney fees in mechanic’s lien foreclosure actions. The district court then granted Regdab’s motion for default judgment and awarded the principal amount owed on the mechanic’s lien plus $8,134.62 in attorney fees and costs. Graybill appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court agreed with Graybill that Regdab was required to plead a specific amount of attorney fees to be awarded in the event of default. Accordingly, the Supreme Court vacated the default judgment and remanded this case with instruction to enter a default judgment consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion. View "Regdab, Inc. v. Graybill" on Justia Law

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Starting in February of 2014, Philip McGimpsey (“McGimpsey”) and his wife Jolene leased a home from D&L Ventures, Inc. D&L was a Nevada corporation owned by David Asher and his wife Georgina. The residential property McGimpsey leased from D&L was located in Eagle, Idaho. D&L obtained the Property in a 2013 foreclosure sale and received a trustee’s deed, which excluded any warranties. A dispute arose out of a breach of contract claim between the McGimpsey and D&L, who entered into a combined lease/Buy-Sell Agreement for the property. On discovering that D&L was an unregistered Nevada corporation conducting business in Ada County, McGimpsey failed to close on the purchase of the home in 2017, because he believed D&L to be in violation of Idaho Code section 30-21-502(a). After the closing date passed, D&L informed McGimpsey that the contractual provisions terminated upon his failure to close and reminded McGimpsey he had to vacate the property, pursuant to the Buy-Sell Agreement. About a month later, D&L registered with the Idaho Secretary of State as a Nevada corporation and filed all of its tax returns and paid its other obligations. McGimpsey subsequently filed a complaint against D&L, and the corporation counterclaimed against McGimpsey and third-party defendants. D&L moved for summary judgment that was granted in part and denied in part. The district court ultimately concluded that D&L had the legal ability to convey the property via warranty deed and that McGimpsey breached the Buy-Sell Agreement by failing to close and failing to show that his breach was excused by D&L’s alleged inability to convey marketable title. McGimpsey and third-party defendants timely appealed and their appeals were consolidated. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s award of summary judgment to D&L because Idaho Code section 30- 21-502 did not impair the validity of contracts; therefore, D&L had the legal ability to convey the property via warranty deed. View "McGimpsey v. D&L Ventures" on Justia Law

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In 2005, Brian Crumb, Frankie McFeron-Crumb, and Marian Crumb joined together with Richard Abbey and Keri Ann Abbey to form Abbey & Crumb Developments, LLC, for the purpose of developing an eighteen-lot subdivision near Post Falls, Idaho. Sometime in 2006, the LLC caused a road to be constructed, which was to serve as the entrance for the subdivision (the entrance road). The road was built on Brian and Frankie Crumb’s land abutting the subdivision and, once constructed, was the only drivable road in and out of the subdivision. In September 2006, the Crumbs withdrew from the LLC. Shortly thereafter, the LLC defaulted on a loan from Security Investor Fund, LLC, and Security Financial Fund, LLC (collectively “Security”). Security then accepted deeds in lieu of foreclosure from the LLC and became an owner of certain lots within the subdivision. At some point in 2017, Brian Crumb took the position that certain subdivision lot owners did not have a right to use the entrance road on his adjoining property, as no applicable easements had ever been recorded. Security then sued in an effort to establish an easement to use the entrance road. The district court granted summary judgment to Brian Crumb and entered judgment in his favor dismissing Security’s complaint. Security appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Crumb, and its denial of attorney fees to Crumb. View "Security Investor Fund v. Crumb" on Justia Law

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In the early 1980s, Ronald and Donna Phelps purchased seven parcels of property in Mores Creek Heights, a subdivision in Boise County. Two of those seven lots are at issue in this appeal (“Lot 26” and “Lot 27”). On October 1, 2004, the Phelpses recorded a quitclaim deed and trust transfer deed, transferring each of the seven lots into their trust. Each deed contained the statement “Mail Tax Statements to: Ronald O. Phelps, Donna J. Phelps, 1 Craftsbury Place, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694.” The Phelpses moved to this address in 2005 and resided there at the time of the bench trial on November 16, 2017. The Phelpses signed for the receipt of certified mail sent to the Ladera Ranch address from Boise County as late as May 18, 2013, and again on December 7, 2015; however, the Phelpses’ mailing address on file with Boise County beginning in 2009, and at all times relevant here, was P.O. Box 1047, El Toro, CA, 92630. Boise County mailed notices regarding property taxes on the lots to the Phelpses at the El Toro address beginning in 2009. The Phelpses did not pay property taxes on the lots for 2010 or any year thereafter. Jeffrey and Johnna Hardy (“the Hardys”) purchased two properties at a tax sale and brought action to quiet title against the Phelpses. The Phelpses counterclaimed against the Hardys and cross-claimed against Boise County, alleging that Boise County failed to provide them proper notice of tax deficiency. Following a bench trial, the district court entered judgment quieting title to the properties in the Hardys and denying the Phelpses’ counterclaim. The Phelpses appealed, asserting the lack of notice makes the Hardys’ deeds void. The Idaho Supreme Court determined Boise County’s efforts to notify the Phelpses of the tax deed satisfied the notice provisions of Idaho law, and were sufficient to satisfy due process requirements. The Court therefore affirmed judgment in favor of the Hardys. View "Hardy v. Phelps" on Justia Law