Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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This appeal originated from a claim for attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-117. The district court held that Hauser Lake Rod and Gun Club, Inc. was not entitled to attorney fees under section 12-117 because, even though it had prevailed against the City of Hauser in a code violation dispute, the administrative tribunal that reviewed the dispute was staffed with both County and City officials. According to the district court, section 12-117’s definition of “political subdivision” does not include administrative review tribunals staffed with officials from multiple governmental entities. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erroneously interpreted Idaho Code section 12-117 by concluding the Joint Board was not a “political subdivision:” the decision of the Board of County Commissioners was the act of a political subdivision. The statutory definition of a political subdivision expressly included counties. "As with any corporate body, a county may only act through its human agents. Under Idaho law, those agents are the Board because a county’s 'powers can only be exercised by the board of county commissioners, or by agents and officers acting under their authority, or authority of law.'" View "Hauser Lake Rod & Gun Club v. City of Hauser" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (“Doe”) appealed the magistrate court’s judgment granting the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s (“IDHW”) petition to terminate her parental rights. Doe claimed that the magistrate court erred by: (1) terminating her parental rights notwithstanding its finding that her mental health issues made it impossible for her to comply with the case plan; and (2) considering evidence outside of the record during the termination trial. Five permanency hearings were held between January 6, 2015 and December 15, 2015. Prior to the first permanency hearing, the Guardian ad litem again reported that while the Children were progressing, Doe was failing to comply with her case plan. Accordingly, it again recommended that the magistrate court move forward with the termination of Doe’s parental rights. IDHW’s report was substantially similar to its previous report; that is, Doe had continued her noncompliance with the case plan. Finding no reversible error in the magistrate court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed termination. View "Health & Welfare v. Jane Doe (2016-47)" on Justia Law

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Claimant-appellant Jimmy Christy, Jr. appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission that found him ineligible for unemployment benefits based upon a willful underreporting of earnings to the Idaho Department of Labor. The appeals examiner heard testimony during a hearing, including Christy’s testimony that despite attending high school, he had problems with numbers and did not read well. The Industrial Commission found that Christy’s explanations resolved only part of the discrepancies revealed by a cross-match audit. The Industrial Commission entered its decision finding that Christy had willfully misstated material facts in his weekly earnings reports to IDOL and found him ineligible for unemployment benefits for each of the weeks that earnings were willfully misrepresented. The Industrial Commission also imposed civil penalties and interest. Christy filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court. Finding no reversible error in the Industrial Commission's decision, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Christy v. Grasmick Produce" on Justia Law

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Steven Andrews filed for workers’ compensation benefits after he fell from a ladder in 2009 while working for the Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church). Andrews sought to establish that the Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (ISIF) was liable pursuant to Idaho Code section 72- 332. The referee concluded that Andrews failed to show that ISIF was liable because the evidence showed that any pre-existing physical impairments did not constitute a subjective hindrance and that Andrews failed to show that his pre-existing impairments combined with the industrial accident to cause his total and permanent disability. The Commission adopted the recommendation. Andrews timely appealed, arguing that the Commission’s order was not supported by substantial and competent evidence. Not persuaded by Andrews’ arguments, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Andrews v. Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund" on Justia Law

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The Ada County Highway District (“ACHD”) appealed a district court judgment awarding $148,390.21 plus prejudgment interest and attorney’s fees to Brooke View, Inc. d/b/a The Senator (“Brooke View”) as just compensation for a parcel of property that ACHD condemned and took possession of under the State’s eminent domain powers. ACHD argued on appeal that the district court misconstrued the law when it allowed Brooke View to recover the cost to repair damage to a wall on Brooke View’s property, which the jury found had been caused by the construction of improvements on the taken parcel. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found the district court erred in instructing the jury on "just compensation," and those instructions prejudiced ACHD. Furthermore, the Court found the district court erred in admitting certain evidence on events, activities and damages that occurred during construction of improvements on the property. The Court vacated the award of attorney fees, and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Ada Co Hwy Dist v. Brooke View, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether the Stanley City Council erred in denying a building permit application submitted by Thomas and Rebecca Arnold. The Arnolds own property in Stanley. From 2009 to 2011, the Arnolds and the City of Stanley were involved in litigation concerning certain building permits related to the Property. The litigation resulted in a settlement agreement, which provided that the City would reissue a previously approved building permit. The Arnolds proffered several arguments on appeal asserting that the Council erred in denying their building permit application; however, the Idaho Supreme Court did not address those arguments because the Council’s denial of the building permit application was not subject to judicial review. View "Arnold v. City of Stanley" on Justia Law

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Sovereign immunity is inapplicable when constitutional violations are alleged. Appellants brought a class action suit against the State, alleging Idaho’s public defense system was inadequate under federal and state constitutional standards. The district court reasoned that Appellants’ claims were not justiciable on standing, ripeness, and separation of powers grounds and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court found that appellants' claims were justiciable on standing and ripeness, not separation of powers. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of Appellants’ complaint as to the State of Idaho and the PDC, but affirmed dismissal as to Governor Otter. The Court remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Tucker, et al v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in dismissing the State Defendants under the Constitutionally Based Educational Claims Act (“CBECA”). This appeal arose from Russell Joki’s action challenging the constitutionality of: (1) fees charged to students of Meridian Joint District #21 ; and (2) the statewide system of funding Idaho’s public schools. Joki and sixteen other individuals (collectively referred to as “Joki”) initiated the suit against the State, the Idaho Legislature, the Idaho State Board of Education, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction (collectively referred to as the “State Defendants”), all 114 Idaho public school districts, and one charter school. The district court granted the State Defendants’ motion to dismiss. Joki argued the CBECA did not apply here, but the Supreme Court disagreed, finding: (1) the CBECA was constitutional, “it is not unreasonable for the legislature to also declare that allegations that the required educational services are not being furnished should first be addressed to the local school districts which have been given the responsibility and authority to provide those services;” and (2) Joki’s claims relating to the fees levied by the school districts fell squarely within the definition of a constitutionally based educational claim because the legislature’s duty was to provide free common schools. View "Joki v. Idaho Bd of Education" on Justia Law

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Val and LaRee Westover appealed the district court’s judgment and denial of their request for writs of mandate and prohibition against Franklin County Assessor Jase Cundick. The dispute arose when the Westovers granted an easement to Rocky Mountain Power on property owned by the Westovers. Based on his office’s records, Cundick sent a letter to Rocky Mountain Power stating that the Westovers did not own the property in question. The Westovers sought a writ of mandate to require Cundick to retract the letter and a writ of prohibition to prevent him from sending such letters in the future. The district court denied the Westovers’ request for writs of mandate and prohibition after it concluded that there were other remedies available at law. On appeal, the Westovers argued the district court erred by failing to grant injunctive relief prohibiting Cundick from sending out letters concerning real estate transactions and property ownership. Although the Westovers’ complaint did not request that the district court grant injunctive relief, they argued that the district court erred because the Westovers were clearly entitled to injunctive relief under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c). Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Westover v. Cundick" on Justia Law

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Enrique Lopez appeals an order of the Idaho Industrial Commission (“Industrial Commission”) declining to award him additional workman’s compensation income benefits for binaural hearing loss he sustained as a result of a workplace accident. Lopez was injured by a bull while working on a dairy. Lopez complained to the Industrial Commission that he was entitled to additional income benefits based on his interpretation of the statutory schedule for permanent impairments in Idaho Code section 72-428. The Industrial Commission disagreed, holding that Lopez was only entitled to the 8% impairment benefits previously paid. Lopez timely appealed. Finding no error in the Commission’s calculation of Lopez’ income benefits for his partial binaural hearing loss, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Lopez v. Vanbeek Herd Partnership" on Justia Law