Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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Due to a failed breath alcohol test and multiple convictions for driving under the influence, the Idaho Transportation Department permanently suspended Bruce Edwards’ driving privileges to operate a commercial motor vehicle. The district court affirmed the Department’s order and Edwards appealed. After review of the Department’s order and the circumstances leading to the suspension, the Idaho Supreme Court affirm the district court’s judgment and the Department’s lifetime disqualification of Edwards’ commercial motor vehicle driving privileges. View "Edwards v. Transportation Dept" on Justia Law

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Four appeals arose from a consolidated subcase that was a part of the broader Coeur d’Alene-Spokane River Basin Adjudication (CSRBA). The United States Department of the Interior (the United States), as trustee for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe (the Tribe), filed 353 claims in Idaho state court seeking judicial recognition of federal reserved water rights to fulfill the purposes of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Reservation (the Reservation). The Tribe joined the litigation. The State of Idaho (the State) and others objected to claims asserted by the United States and the Tribe. The district court bifurcated the proceedings to decide only the entitlement to water at this stage, with the quantification stage to follow. After cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court allowed certain claims to proceed and disallowed others. The district court specifically allowed reserved water rights for agriculture, fishing and hunting, and domestic purposes. The district court allowed reserved water rights for instream flows within the Reservation, but disallowed those for instream flows outside the Reservation. The district court determined priority dates for the various claims it found should proceed to quantification, holding generally the Tribe was entitled to a date-of-reservation priority date for the claims for consumptive uses, and a time immemorial priority date for nonconsumptive uses. However, in regard to lands homesteaded on the Reservation by non-Indians that had since been reacquired by the Tribe, the district court ruled the Tribe was entitled to a priority date of a perfected state water right, or if none had been perfected or it had been lost due to nonuse, the Tribe’s priority date would be the date-of-reacquisition. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court determined the district court improperly applied the controlling case law's rule of "primary-secondary" distinction and instead should have allowed aboriginal purposes of plant gathering and cultural uses under the homeland purpose theory. Furthermore, the Court determined the priority date associated with nonconsumptive water rights was time immemorial. The Court affirmed the remainder of the district court’s decisions and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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SSI Food Services Inc. (SSI) appealed the district court’s decision rejecting the Board of Tax Appeal’s (BTA) 2016 assessed value of SSI’s food processing facility in favor of the Canyon County Assessor’s (Canyon County) significantly higher valuation. On appeal, SSI argued the district court erred when it modified the BTA’s valuation because: (1) Canyon County did not meet its burden of proving that the BTA’s valuation was erroneous; (2) the modified valuation was not supported by substantial and competent evidence; and (3) the conclusions of law contained in the district court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law are inadequate. SSI also appealed the district court’s decision to allow Canyon County’s expert to testify on rebuttal. Canyon County cross-appealed the district court’s decision that SSI was not obligated to pay penalties and interest on the unpaid amount of property taxes. Finding no reversible error or abuse of discretion, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Stender v. SSI Food Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant Tom Katsilometes challenged the Idaho Senate’s order granting over $18,000 in attorney fees to Senator W. Marcus Nye, awarded after Nye prevailed against Katsilometes in a contest over the results of the 2016 general election. The Senate confirmed Nye’s election and awarded him costs and attorney fees. Because Katsilometes refused to pay the attorney fees, Nye brought an action in district court seeking a declaratory judgment ordering Katsilometes to pay him the amount ordered by the Senate. The district court granted the declaratory judgment and further awarded Nye costs, attorney fees, and prejudgment interest. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Senate did not have the authority to award attorney fees to Nye at the time of the election contest. Nye was not entitled to recover his litigation costs, attorney fees, and prejudgment interest in the district court action. Therefore, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order enforcing the award of attorney fees to Nye pursuant to the order of the Idaho Senate, and vacated all costs, attorney fees, and prejudgment interest awarded to Nye by the district court. Neither side was entitled to attorney fees on appeal; however, as the prevailing party, Katsilometes was entitled to his costs on appeal. View "Nye v. Katsilometes" on Justia Law

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Mario Ayala was injured while driving a company truck in 2009, and was injured again in 2013 after falling from a ladder. After the hearing, but before the referee issued “recommended findings and determination” in accordance with Idaho Code section 72-717, the Industrial Commission reassigned the case to itself over Ayala’s objection. Citing the referee’s backlog of cases and a need for efficiency, the Industrial Commission issued an order finding that Ayala’s low-back condition was not causally related to his 2009 truck wreck, that he was not totally and permanently disabled under the odd-lot worker doctrine, and that he suffered disability of 40% of the whole person inclusive of impairment of his 2009 and 2013 industrial accidents. The Idaho Supreme Court set aside the Commission’s findings of fact, conclusions of law and order because Ayala was denied due process when the Industrial Commission reviewed Ayala’s claims and issued a decision without the referee’s recommended findings and determination. The Court also set aside the Industrial Commission’s post-hearing order on motion for reconsideration and order on motion for reconsideration, modification and consolidation, and remanded this matter for a new hearing. View "Ayala v. Meyers Farms" on Justia Law

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Jun Yu appealed the dismissal of his claims for alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and breach of contract. Idaho State University dismissed Yu from its doctoral program in clinical psychology in May 2013, with his final administrative appeal denied on October 2, 2013. Yu, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, was completing his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Idaho State University. He completed all the requisite coursework, wrote and defended his dissertation, but still had to complete a one-year clinical internship. After not matching any programs with the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, Yu set up an alternative internship with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism in Ohio. However, he was dismissed from the Ohio internship early due to performance concerns and subsequently dismissed from Idaho State University’s doctoral program. After exhausting his appeals with the university, Yu received a final letter on October 2 that denied his appeal and immediately made his dismissal effective. In March 2014, Yu filed a notice of tort claim against ISU pursuant to the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA), alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress and a violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Right Act. Eighteen months later he filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho alleging violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, deprivation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Yu later amended his complaint to include allegations of denial of procedural and substantive due process, promissory estoppel, and breach of contract, totaling 18 claims against ISU. No individual defendants were named in the notice of claim or in his federal action. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Yu’s claims because they were untimely. View "Yu v. ID State University" on Justia Law

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Aspen Park, Inc., a nonprofit organization, sought a property tax exemption from Bonneville County, Idaho for its low-income apartments. The County’s Board of Equalization denied an exemption because some of the apartments were leased to tenants with incomes above 60 percent of the county’s median income level, a requirement set forth in Idaho Code section 63-602GG(3)(c). Aspen Park appealed to the Idaho Board of Tax Appeals, arguing that the statute allowed vacant apartments to be leased to higher-income earners. After the Board of Tax Appeals denied tax exempt status, Aspen Park filed a petition for judicial review with the district court. The district court granted Bonneville County summary judgment after deciding that to be eligible for a tax exemption under Idaho Code section 63-602GG, every apartment must be rented to low-income individuals or remain vacant. Aspen Park appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Aspen Park v. Bonneville County" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether Brent Austin filed a timely complaint for additional worker's compensation benefits with the Idaho Industrial Commission when it was filed more than a year after his employer, Bio Tech Nutrients, and its surety, Employers Compensation Insurance Company, (collectively “Defendants”) stopped paying worker’s compensation benefits. The Commission held that the one-year statute of limitations to file a complaint was tolled because the Defendants did not send a Notice of Claim Status (“NOCS”) when they submitted Austin’s final payment; as such, the Commission concluded Austin’s complaint was timely filed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the Commission was correct in tolling the statute of limitations, and affirmed. View "Austin v. Bio Tech Nutrients" on Justia Law

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This case involved a dispute over how the Idaho Public Employee Retirement Board calculated the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for retirees who participated in the Firemen’s Retirement Fund (FRF). The Idaho Industrial Commission held that the definition of “paid firefighter” included part-time firefighters. The effect of the Commission’s decision resulted in a smaller annual COLA for retired firefighters. On appeal, the Idaho Retired Firefighters Association, and Sharon Koelling and John Anderson alleged the Board’s inclusion of part-time firefighters violated statutory and constitutional provisions. The Association and the Individual Claimants sought a ruling from the Idaho Supreme Court reversing the Commission’s decision, and a ruling that would exclude part-time firefighters from the Board’s annual COLA calculations, the effect of which would be an increase in the annual COLA applicable to retired firefighters. The Supreme Court vacated the Commission’s decision because it lacked the necessary jurisdiction to decide the question presented to it. View "Idaho Retired Firefighters v. Public Employy Retirement Bd" on Justia Law

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Kevin Smith appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission order that concluded the Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (ISIF) was not liable to him for worker’s compensation benefits. The Commission determined that Smith failed to prove he was totally and permanently disabled under both the 100% method and the odd-lot worker method. He also appealed a denied motion for reconsideration that was denied by the Commission, where he alleged that the Commission determined disability at a future date rather than the date of the hearing, that it improperly interpreted a report, and that it improperly considered an excluded exhibit. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s order. View "Smith v. Idaho, Industrial Special Indemnity Fund" on Justia Law