Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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Travelers Insurance Co. appealed a district court decision to affirm a final order of the Idaho Department of Insurance in favor of Ultimate Logistics, LLC (“Ultimate”). The Department of Insurance’s final order upheld a hearing officer’s determination that two mechanics working for Ultimate were improperly included in a premium-rate calculation made by Travelers. In its petition for review, Travelers argued the Department of Insurance acted outside the scope of its statutory authority in determining that the mechanics could not be included in the premium-rate calculation. The district court rejected this argument. Finding no reversible error in the district court's order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Travelers Insurance v. Ultimate Logistics, LLC" on Justia Law

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Max Pease failed to stop his vehicle before rear-ending Brent Weddle’s vehicle. The force of the collision caused Weddle’s vehicle to cross over into oncoming traffic and collide with a pickup truck owned by Mabel Robin Blackeagle. Dana McCandless was the driver of the pickup truck and Blackeagle was a passenger. A jury found Pease and Weddle negligent and awarded damages as a result. Dissatisfied with the amount of the verdict, McCandless and Blackeagle moved for a new trial on the comparative negligence and damages, and argued there were errors at trial to warrant a new one. The district court granted their motion in part and ordered a new trial unless Pease agreed to an additur of $4,000. Pease accepted the additur. McCandless and Blackeagle appealed the district court’s order on their motion for a new trial. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order. View "McCandless v. Pease" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Noell Industries, Inc. sold its interest in a limited liability company for a net gain of $120 million. Noell Industries reported the income to Idaho, but paid all of the resulting tax on the gain to the Commonwealth of Virginia, its commercial domicile. Following an audit, the Idaho Tax Commission concluded the net gain was “business income” pursuant to Idaho Code section 63-3027(a)(1) and, thus, apportionable to Idaho. Noell Industries sought judicial review before the Ada County District Court pursuant to Idaho Code section 63-3049(a). The district court ruled that the Commission erred when it: (1) determined that Noell Industries paid insufficient taxes in 2010; and (2) assessed additional tax and interest against it. The Commission appealed. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Noell Industries v. Idaho Tax Commission" on Justia Law

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After Christine Nelson quit her job at Franklin Building Supply in Pocatello, Idaho, due to what she described as a hostile and demeaning work environment, she filed for unemployment benefits with the Department of Labor. The Department denied Nelson’s request for benefits, concluding that she quit her job without good cause because “reasonable alternatives were not exhausted prior to quitting.” Nelson mailed her protest via the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”) from Pocatello, Idaho. Her letter arrived at the Department’s offices in Boise on March 7, one day past the deadline. Because the postmark did not indicate the date of mailing, Nelson’s protest was dismissed by the Department for being untimely. After a hearing, an appeals examiner concluded that although there was a USPS postmark stamped on the envelope, the red ink “blend[ed] with the red stamps,” obscuring the date. Thus, while the distribution center could be discerned from the postmark, “the remainder of the postmark [was] illegible.” Because the envelope lacked a date on the postmark, the appeals examiner concluded that the envelope should be treated as if it had no postmark at all, thereby making the date of filing the date received, which was March 7, 2019 - one day too late. Nelson timely appealed the decision of the appeals examiner to the Industrial Commission, arguing that the letter was mailed by March 1 and that she had no control over its late arrival or the absence of a legible postmark. The Commission concurred with the appeal's examiner. The Department of Labor nor the Industrial Commission considered Nelson's reason for appealing in the first place: that she lacked good cause to leave her employment. Focusing instead on the timeliness of her appeal, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the Department and Commission were mistaken in holding Nelson's filing was too late: "since once a letter is deposited for mailing it is entirely within the control of the USPS, the obscured date on the postmark stamp could only have been a result of USPS error. Thus, by the application of reason and common sense, the delivery of this letter on March 7—even with an illegible date on the postmark—conclusively proves that Nelson must have deposited her appeals letter into USPS custody on or before the March 6 filing deadline." The decision in this matter was reversed and remanded for consideration of the merits of Nelson's case. View "Nelson v. IDOL and Franklin Group" on Justia Law

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Joanie Smith was employed by the Glenns Ferry Highway District (the District) when she witnessed the District’s office manager overpaying herself on several occasions. Smith reported the overpayments to the District’s superintendent. Sometime after Smith reported these overpayments, the District terminated Smith’s employment. Smith filed suit, alleging adverse employment action in the form of discharge. At trial, the trial court ruled it would use the jury in an advisory capacity concerning any front pay damages. The jury returned a special verdict for Smith, awarding her both back pay and front pay. Following the jury’s verdict, the trial court rejected the jury’s verdict awarding front pay, and entered a reduced award. The trial court reasoned that: (1) the jury’s verdict with respect to front pay was advisory because front pay was an equitable remedy when awarded in lieu of reinstatement; (2) Smith had not properly pleaded “failure to promote” as an adverse action in addition to discharge; and (3) the jury had incorrectly used an erroneous full-time employment status in calculating front pay. The trial court also reduced Smith’s requested attorney fees to an amount less than she had contracted to pay. Smith unsuccessfully moved for post-judgment relief. Smith appealed, and the District cross-appealed, arguing that the issue of back pay also sounded in equity, and that the trial court should have reduced the jury award of back pay. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the trial court erred: (1) when it ruled that there was no right to a jury trial on the issue of front pay; (2) by refusing to include the adverse action of “failure to hire” in the jury instructions and special verdict form; (3) by failing to instruct the jury on the “risk of uncertainty” to be borne by the District in its determination of damages; and (4) by denying Smith post-judgment interest. The Court determined the "failure to hire" instruction and "risk of uncertainty" errors were not prejudicial, and the jury award of front pay should have been reinstated. Smith’s request for entry of judgment nunc pro tunc was declined; however, on remand the trial court was asked to determine whether judgment nunc pro tunc should be entered as of the date of the jury’s verdict. Furthermore, the trial court abused its discretion in reducing the award of attorney fees from the amount Smith requested. The matter was remanded for further proceeedings. View "Smith v. Glenns Ferry Hwy Dist" on Justia Law

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Sharon Walsh retained Swapp Law, PLLC, d/b/a Craig Swapp & Associates ("CS&A") after she was involved in two car accidents in 2013. In the negligence action stemming from the first accident, Walsh followed firm employee Stephen Redd’s advice and settled the case. Walsh then changed representation and, with her new counsel, settled the second case. On March 2, 2017, Walsh filed this action alleging, among other things, that CS&A was negligent in advising her to settle the first case while the second case was still pending and by failing to advise her of an underlying subrogation responsibility in the first case. CS&A moved for summary judgment. It argued that Walsh’s claim was time-barred under Idaho Code section 5-219(4)’s two-year statute of limitations because her malpractice claim began to accrue when she released the first claim. The district court agreed and granted the motion. Walsh timely appeals. Based on its review of the record, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court did not err in awarding summary judgment to CS&A. The district court properly determined that Walsh’s claim was time barred under Idaho Code section 5-219 because her cause of action accrued when she signed the release of claims for the First Collision case more than two years prior to her filing the action at hand. Further, the district court properly determined that the fraudulent-concealment provision of Idaho Code section 5-219(4) did not apply because Walsh was put on inquiry of CS&A’s alleged malpractice in June 2015, more than one year prior to filing this action. The district court’s decision granting CS&A’s motion for summary judgment and its final judgment were thus affirmed. View "Walsh v. Swapp Law" on Justia Law

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Investor Recovery Fund, LLC was the assignee of six claims held by individual investors who lost their investments in the Hopkins Northwest Fund, LLC (the fund). Randall Hopkins and Brian Murphy were the principals of the fund, and together they owned and managed Hopkins Financial Services, Inc. (Hopkins Financial). The individual investors formed Investor Recovery for the purposes of asserting a collective claim against Hopkins Financial and the fund’s principals individually (collectively, Hopkins Associates). The fund declared a moratorium on redemptions in 2008, preventing investors from taking their money out of the fund. The individual investors lost their investments when the fund declared bankruptcy six years later. Investor Recovery sued Hopkins Associates, asserting claims of fraud by nondisclosure. The district court granted the principals’ motion for a directed verdict after seven days of trial, concluding that Investor Recovery did not prove that the individual investors’ losses were causally connected to the principals’ alleged nondisclosures. The Idaho Supreme Court addressed the applicable standard of review when considering a directed verdict in a fraud by nondisclosure case. Finding the district court used the wrong standard in entering directed verdict in favor of Hopkins Associates, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s directed verdict, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Investor Recovery Fund v. Hopkins" on Justia Law

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This case concerned an attempt by Jade Lee and Golden China, LLC, to appeal a magistrate court decision to the district court. The magistrate court awarded Brian Medrain dba Excellence Heating and Cooling (“Medrain”) damages in a breach of contract action against defendants Bing Lee, Jade Lee, and Golden China, LLC. Bing filed a timely pro se notice of appeal to the district court identifying all three defendants as the appellants; however, the notice of appeal was only signed by Bing as the appellant; neither Jade nor the attorney representing the defendants ever signed the notice of appeal. About ten months later the defendants retained new counsel who filed an amended notice of appeal on behalf of all three defendants. Medrain moved to dismiss the appeal. The district court granted Medrain’s motion in part and held that Jade and Golden China, LLC, did not timely appeal the magistrate court’s judgment. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Medrain v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Nampa Highway District No. 1 (NHD) brought this action seeking to quiet title to a thirty-three-foot-wide strip of land constituting the south half of West Orchard Avenue in Canyon County, Idaho. NHD claimed that a 1941 deed conveyed the land to NHD. Appellants (defendants-below) argued that because the deed was not recorded until 1989, it did not affect their interests pursuant to the “Shelter Rule,” which protected a purchaser with notice if their predecessor in interest was an innocent purchaser. The district court granted summary judgment in NHD’s favor. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed, finding the district court erred in granting summary judgment when there was a genuine issue of material fact as to what a reasonable investigation by Appellants' predecessors in interest would have revealed. The Supreme Court vacated the district court's declaration that NHD was the fee simple titleholder of the right-of-way, and the matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Nampa Hwy Dist #1 v. Knight" on Justia Law

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Brett Woolley appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission (“Commission”) decision that found him ineligible for unemployment benefits. The Commission determined that Woolley was ineligible for benefits because he was a corporate officer whose claim for benefits was based on wages from a corporation in which he had an ownership interest. The Commission also determined Woolley willfully made a false statement by saying he had not received wages or performed services as a corporate officer. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s determination that Woolley was ineligible for benefits due to his status as a corporate officer because it was supported by substantial and competent evidence. However, the Court found Woolley did not willfully misrepresent his status as a corporate officer, "The statute makes no mention of a claimant’s performance of services as a corporate officer. To compound the confusion, IDOL provides no information in the unemployment handbook or on its website to explain why it is necessary for claimants to report their corporate officer status when filing a claim for benefits. To serve as the basis for a willful failure to report a material fact, the question to be answered by a claimant must be accurately grounded in the legal requirements of the statute." View "Woolley v. Idaho Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law