Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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This case was the second appeal following a judicial foreclosure. Charles and Donna Nickerson initially appealed the district court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of PHH Mortgage and J.P. Mortgage Chase Bank in a judicial foreclosure proceeding involving the Nickersons’ approximately fifty acres of land in Clearwater County, Idaho (the “Property”). The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment grant in PHH Mortgage v. Nickerson, 374 P.3d 551 (2016) (“Nickerson I”). Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the district court issued an order lifting the stay on its prior judgment, as well as an order of sale and decree of foreclosure. The district court also denied the Nickersons’ post-appeal motions for sanctions, to quash execution and judgment, and to vacate or amend the order of sale and decree of foreclosure. The Nickersons then challenged several issues previously decided in Nickerson I as well as the district court’s decisions on motions and orders subsequent to that decision. The Supreme Court found that the "law of the case" doctrine prevented the Supreme Court from addressing issues that were raised or could have been raised in Nickerson I, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Nickersons' motion to quash execution and judgment, and the motion to reconsider. View "PHH Mortgage v. Nickerson" on Justia Law

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Appellants Coleman Homes, LLC, West Highlands, LLC, West Highlands Subdivision Homeowner’s Association, Inc., and West Highlands Land, LLC appealed a district court order entered in favor of the City of Middleton, Idaho. Appellants entered into two agreements with the City regarding impact fees and public access space for the West Highlands Ranch Subdivision (the “Project”) located in Middleton. Soon thereafter, Appellants asserted the agreements were invalid and unenforceable. In response, the City sought a judgment from the district court declaring the agreements valid and enforceable. The parties eventually stipulated to the validity of the agreements. Both sides filed motions for summary judgment asking the district court to interpret the agreements. The district court ultimately ordered Appellants to designate 12.8 acres of land within the Project as public access space and ruled that Appellants were obligated to provide a financial guarantee, if necessary. Based on the summary judgment order, the district court found the City to be the prevailing party and awarded the City attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-120(3). Appellants appealed the district court’s prevailing party determination. The City cross-appealed the district court’s fee award and ruling that Appellants were obligated to provide a financial guarantee, if necessary. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the prevailing party determination, and ordered a clerical error with respect to naming the party obligated to provide a financial guarantee. View "Middleton v. Coleman Homes" on Justia Law

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The City of Idaho Falls (“Idaho Falls”) appealed an order dismissing its breach of contract and waste claims against H-K Contractors, Inc. (“H-K”). In 2005, H-K entered into a written contract requiring it to convey a parcel of property to Idaho Falls. The contract required that H-K initially grant Idaho Falls a storm drainage easement “over and across” the parcel. H-K was also required to convey fee title to the parcel at a future date, in no event later than March 1, 2010. H-K failed to convey the property to Idaho Falls as required. In 2016, Idaho Falls sent a letter to H-K requesting conveyance of title. H-K responded by refusing to convey title to the property, claiming that in 2009 a city official had orally informed H-K that Idaho Falls was no longer interested in the property. Based on that alleged representation, H-K decided to invest in the property to make it profitable. Idaho Falls filed a complaint against H-K for breach of contract and waste. H-K moved to dismiss the complaint based on the limitation found in Idaho Code section 5-216, alleging Idaho Falls’ claims were time barred because they were not brought within the five-year statute of limitations governing contract actions. Idaho Falls countered that the statute of limitations did not apply to it as a subdivision of the State of Idaho. On January 3, 2017, the district court dismissed Idaho Falls’ complaint as time barred. Idaho Falls timely appealed, claiming the district court erred in enforcing the five-year limitation set forth in section 5-216. The Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment, finding it erred when it determined the term “state” in Idaho Code section 5- 216 did not include Idaho’s municipalities. Because Idaho Falls was the “state,” the district court erred when it found its contract claims against H-K were not “for the benefit of the state.” View "City of Idaho Falls v. H-K Contractors" on Justia Law

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The City of Idaho Falls (“Idaho Falls”) appealed an order dismissing its breach of contract and waste claims against H-K Contractors, Inc. (“H-K”). In 2005, H-K entered into a written contract requiring it to convey a parcel of property to Idaho Falls. The contract required that H-K initially grant Idaho Falls a storm drainage easement “over and across” the parcel. H-K was also required to convey fee title to the parcel at a future date, in no event later than March 1, 2010. H-K failed to convey the property to Idaho Falls as required. In 2016, Idaho Falls sent a letter to H-K requesting conveyance of title. H-K responded by refusing to convey title to the property, claiming that in 2009 a city official had orally informed H-K that Idaho Falls was no longer interested in the property. Based on that alleged representation, H-K decided to invest in the property to make it profitable. Idaho Falls filed a complaint against H-K for breach of contract and waste. H-K moved to dismiss the complaint based on the limitation found in Idaho Code section 5-216, alleging Idaho Falls’ claims were time barred because they were not brought within the five-year statute of limitations governing contract actions. Idaho Falls countered that the statute of limitations did not apply to it as a subdivision of the State of Idaho. On January 3, 2017, the district court dismissed Idaho Falls’ complaint as time barred. Idaho Falls timely appealed, claiming the district court erred in enforcing the five-year limitation set forth in section 5-216. The Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment, finding it erred when it determined the term “state” in Idaho Code section 5- 216 did not include Idaho’s municipalities. Because Idaho Falls was the “state,” the district court erred when it found its contract claims against H-K were not “for the benefit of the state.” View "City of Idaho Falls v. H-K Contractors" on Justia Law

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Scott and Anne Davison appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of DeBest Plumbing (DeBest). In 2012, the Davisons hired Gould Custom Builders, Inc. (Gould) to perform an extensive remodel of their vacation home in Idaho. Gould hired DeBest as the plumbing subcontractor. A bathtub installed by DeBest developed a leak that caused significant damage before it was noticed and repaired. The Davisons sought damages based upon the contract between Gould and DeBest and for negligence. The district court granted DeBest’s motion for summary judgment on the contract claims because the Davisons were not in privity of contract with DeBest. Later, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of DeBest on the negligence claim, finding that the Davisons had failed to comply with the requirements of the Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act (NORA), Idaho Code sections 6-2501–2504. On appeal, the Davisons argued they satisfied the requirements of NORA because DeBest received actual notice of the claim and sent a representative to inspect the damage. Finding that the Davidsons satisfied the requirements of NORA when they gave DeBest actual notice, and DeBest had an opportunity to inspect the defect, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting DeBest's motion for summary judgment on the Davidsons' negligence claim. The Supreme Court reversed as to negligence, but affirmed the district court in all other respects. View "Davison v. DeBest Plumbing" on Justia Law

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The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Marian Baker, Trustee of the Marian B. Baker Trust (“Baker”), for an easement over a logging road (“Alexanna Lane”) that crossed the property of KAL, LLC (“KAL”). Initially there were claims involving John and Vickie Stadler (the “Stadlers”), and Jose Melendreras and Jacqueline Diaz-Melendreras (the “Melendrerases”). However, the appeal here involved only the claims between Baker and KAL. In February of 2015 Baker filed a complaint to quiet title against KAL, the Stadlers and the Melendrerases to extinguish an easement on the Baker Property. The Stadlers answered Baker’s complaint and asserted claims against Baker and the Melendrerases to quiet title and for common law trespass. The Stadlers noted that access to the Baker Property was intended to run through the Melendreras Property, not through the KAL Property or the Stadler Property. Baker filed a motion for summary judgment with respect to Count I and Count II of the Stadlers’ counterclaim, asserting that she was entitled to use Alexanna Lane to access her property because: (1) a statutory easement was created pursuant to Idaho Code section 55-603; (2) the 1999 deed intended to create and describe the easement; (3) an implied easement existed; (4) an easement by necessity existed because there was no other access to a public road; and (5) there was an easement by prescription. The Stadlers opposed Baker’s motion for summary judgment, asserting that there was no easement created that allowed Baker to access Alexanna Lane. Amidst these disputes KAL filed an answer and counterclaim to Baker’s complaint, asserting that Baker had no legal right to travel across the KAL Property; KAL maintained the 1999 deed was ambiguous, and the language did not reserve an easement that ultimately Baker claimed she held. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s determination of the meaning of the easement language in the deed, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment. View "Baker v. KAL, LLC" on Justia Law

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The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Marian Baker, Trustee of the Marian B. Baker Trust (“Baker”), for an easement over a logging road (“Alexanna Lane”) that crossed the property of KAL, LLC (“KAL”). Initially there were claims involving John and Vickie Stadler (the “Stadlers”), and Jose Melendreras and Jacqueline Diaz-Melendreras (the “Melendrerases”). However, the appeal here involved only the claims between Baker and KAL. In February of 2015 Baker filed a complaint to quiet title against KAL, the Stadlers and the Melendrerases to extinguish an easement on the Baker Property. The Stadlers answered Baker’s complaint and asserted claims against Baker and the Melendrerases to quiet title and for common law trespass. The Stadlers noted that access to the Baker Property was intended to run through the Melendreras Property, not through the KAL Property or the Stadler Property. Baker filed a motion for summary judgment with respect to Count I and Count II of the Stadlers’ counterclaim, asserting that she was entitled to use Alexanna Lane to access her property because: (1) a statutory easement was created pursuant to Idaho Code section 55-603; (2) the 1999 deed intended to create and describe the easement; (3) an implied easement existed; (4) an easement by necessity existed because there was no other access to a public road; and (5) there was an easement by prescription. The Stadlers opposed Baker’s motion for summary judgment, asserting that there was no easement created that allowed Baker to access Alexanna Lane. Amidst these disputes KAL filed an answer and counterclaim to Baker’s complaint, asserting that Baker had no legal right to travel across the KAL Property; KAL maintained the 1999 deed was ambiguous, and the language did not reserve an easement that ultimately Baker claimed she held. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s determination of the meaning of the easement language in the deed, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment. View "Baker v. KAL, LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellants Glen and Cheryl Nielson (the “Nielsons”), challenged a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondents Robert and Michele Talbot (the “Talbots”) and Paul and Saundra Parker (the “Parkers”). The Parkers and Talbots were neighbors. The Parkers sold their property to the Nielsons by warranty deed. Shortly after purchasing the property, the Nielsons filed a complaint against the Talbots arguing that, according to the legal description in the warranty deed, the Talbots’ shed, carport, and driveway extended over the property line and onto the Nielsons’ property. The Nielsons also filed a complaint against the Parkers arguing that the Parkers were obligated to defend the title of the property that they had sold. The two cases were consolidated and the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Talbots and the Parkers. Finding only that the district court erred by dismissing the Nielsons’ claim for breach of warranty, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part. The Court remanded the case so that the district court could enter a "proper judgment" that sufficiently described the altered property line. View "Nielson v. Talbot" 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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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