Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute between SilverWing at Sandpoint, LLC (“SilverWing”) and Appellant Bonner County, Idaho (the “County”). SilverWing sought to develop a residential hangar and taxiway adjacent to the Sandpoint Airport for residents who wished to park their aircraft in their home garage. SilverWing alleged that “[i]n 2007, the County provided to SilverWing an ALP that reflected the existing location of the Airport’s runway, and made no mention or reference to any plans for the runway to be moved. At the same time, the County promised that there were no plans regarding changes to runway location which would be incompatible with SilverWing’s development.” During the initial stages of engineering for the development, the County informed SilverWing that it needed to move the taxiway from where it was originally planned onto County-owned airport property, to accord with the County’s Airport Layout Plan (ALP). SilverWing proceeded with its development based on the County’s assurances, and built a taxiway and other infrastructure, including streets, to support its development. Once the taxiway was built, SilverWing learned that the placement of the taxiway was not approved by the FAA. After several years of legal maneuvering, SilverWing proceeded against the County in court, ultimately on a theory of promissory estoppel. After trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of SilverWing. The County filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (“JNOV”), which the district court denied. The County appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s ruling on the JNOV and vacated its ruling regarding attorney fees. The Court determined the district court erred with respect to JNOV on the claim of promissory estoppel: "SilverWing actually got what it claims the County promised—an FAA approved taxiway in the location where SilverWing built it. SilverWing can now sell its development with no regulatory uncertainty." View "SilverWing v. Bonner County" on Justia Law

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In 2006, T3 Enterprises entered into the Distributor Agreement with Safeguard Business Systems (SBS). In 2014, T3 filed suit alleging SBS had breached the Distributor Agreement by failing to prevent other SBS distributors from selling to T3’s customers and for paying commissions to the interfering distributors rather than to T3. The Distributor Agreement between SBS and T3 contained an arbitration clause indicating disputes must be resolved in a Dallas, Texas based arbitration procedure. The Distributor Agreement also contained a forum selection clause indicating that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and Texas law would apply to any disputes between the parties. Pursuant to this agreement, SBS moved the district court to compel arbitration in Dallas. The district court determined the parties had to submit to arbitration, but that the Dallas forum selection clause was unenforceable, and arbitration was to take place in Idaho. The Arbitration Panel (the Panel) found for T3 and the district court confirmed the award in the amount of $4,362,041.95. The district court denied SBS’s motion to vacate or modify the award. SBS appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "T3 Enterprises v. Safeguard Business Sys" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose in the context of Safeguard Business Systems, Inc.’s (“SBS”) alleged breach of its distributorship agreement with Thurston Enterprises, Inc. (“Thurston”). After a jury trial Thurston was awarded approximately $6.8 million in damages. SBS filed a motion for post-judgment relief, which the district court denied. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court correctly decided that SBS breached Thurston’s account protection rights under the Agreement as a matter of law. Furthermore, the district court properly denied SBS’s motions for post-judgment relief on Thurston’s claim for fraud in the inducement of the March 2014 agreement, on Thurston’s claim that SBS breached the pricing guarantee in the Agreement, and on Thurston's claim for good faith and fair dealing because the jury’s findings were supported by substantial evidence. The Supreme Court, therefore, affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Thurston and T3 v. Safeguard" on Justia Law

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Appellants Ryan and Kathryn McFarland owned real property in Garden Valley, Idaho, which feathred three structures insured through Liberty Mutual Insurance Group: a main cabin; a detached garage with an upstairs “bonus room”; and a pump house containing a geothermal well. The policy provided two types of coverage for structures. Coverage A (“Dwelling Coverage”) provided up to $188,500 in coverage for “the dwelling on the ‘residence premises’. . . including structures attached to the dwelling . . .” and Coverage B (“Other Structures Coverage”) provided up to $22,350 for “other structures on the ‘residence premises’ set apart from the dwelling by clear space.” In February 2017, a radiant heater burst in the bonus room and damaged the garage and its contents. After the McFarlands filed a claim, Liberty stated that the damage was covered under the policy. Believing the damage to fall under the Dwelling Coverage, the McFarlands hired contractors to repair the damage. However, after Liberty paid out a total of $23,467.50 in March 2017, Liberty stated that the coverage was exhausted because the damage fell under the Other Structures Coverage. This led the McFarlands to sue, alleging among other claims, breach of contract based on Liberty’s interpretation of the policy. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment on the issue of whether the damage fell under the Dwelling Coverage or the Other Structures Coverage. Ruling that the policy unambiguously provided coverage for the garage under the Other Structures Coverage, the district court denied the McFarlands’ motion and granted Liberty’s. The McFarlands appealed. Finding that the policy at issue here failed to define the term "dwelling", and the term was reasonably subject to differing interpretations, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the award of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "McFarland v. Liberty Insurance Corp" on Justia Law

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The underlying dispute in this case involved a commercial transaction between H2O Environmental, Inc. (H2O) and Farm Supply Distributors, Inc. (Farm Supply). Following a bench trial, H2O was awarded $7,354.64 for Farm Supply’s breach of an express oral contract. The magistrate court subsequently awarded attorney’s fees to H2O pursuant to Idaho Code section 12-120(3), but limited its award to the amount in controversy. H2O appealed to the district court, claiming that the magistrate court abused its discretion. The district court affirmed and awarded attorney’s fees to Farm Supply. H2O timely appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred when it affirmed the magistrate court’s award of attorney fees: nothing in the record explained the relationship between the magistrate court’s evaluation of the Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 54(e)(3) factors and its decision regarding the amount to award for attorney’s fees. “It is not enough for a trial court to acknowledge the existence of the Rule 54(e)(3) factors; rather, it must appear that there is a reasoned application of those factors in the trial court’s decision regarding the amount of attorney’s fees to be awarded.” The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "H20 Environmental v. Farm Supply" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a dispute regarding Idaho First Bank’s (“IFB”) efforts to collect on a note secured by a deed of trust. IFB appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of debtors Maj-Le and Harold Bridges (the “Bridges”). The Bridges began leasing land from the Idaho Department of Lands (the “State”) in 2005, with the intent to build a cottage on the land. In 2014, the Bridges entered into a new nine-year term lease agreement with the State. This new lease contained a provision classifying buildings and structures on the leased land as “Personal Property.” This provision was not in the original 2005 lease agreement. In May 2015, the Bridges defaulted on the note. The Bridges then tendered both the cottage and the lease to IFB. On June 19, 2015, IFB filed suit, seeking a judgment on the note without taking action to foreclose on the deed of trust. Significant here, more than three months later, IFB amended its complaint a second time, claiming two separate causes of action seeking a deficiency judgment in the sum of $344,377.24. The first cause of action sought a deficiency under Idaho Code section 28-9-615, with IFB continuing to maintain that the 5000-square-foot cottage was personal property; the second cause of action sought the same relief on the basis of Idaho Code section 45-1512, relative to trust deeds and real property. The Bridges moved for summary judgment against IFB’s deficiency claims, arguing: (1) the cottage was not personal property, making the claim pursuant to section 28-9-61 erroneous; and (2) IFB’s deficiency claims were time barred because they were not filed within three months after foreclosure of the deed of trust, as required by section 45-1512. Finding no reversible error in the district court order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Idaho First Bank v. Bridges" on Justia Law

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This appeal related to a purported agreement resolving a lawsuit between Kevin Seward and Musick Auction, LLC (“Musick”). Seward claimed that the parties entered into a binding oral settlement agreement and he moved to enforce the agreement. The district court granted Seward’s motion. Musick contended on appeal the district court erred in several respects when it held that the parties had entered into a binding settlement agreement. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Seward v. Musick Auction, LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned the guardianship of a ten-year-old child, Jane Doe II (“Jane”), whose parents passed away in 2017. A family friend petitioned for guardianship; Jane's aunt (twin sister of her mother) also petitioned for guardianship. A guardian ad litem recommended the friend be awarded temporary guardianship for Jane to finish the school year, then the aunt be permanent guardian. The friend appealed. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian was vacated by the Idaho Supreme Court, which remanded the case for the magistrate court to conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to a new trial. View "Western Community Ins v. Burks Tractor" on Justia Law

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Appellant Jennifer Eastman sought a declaratory judgment that she was entitled to underinsured motorist insurance coverage (“UIM coverage”) under her auto insurance policy (the “Policy”) with Respondent Farmers Insurance Company (“Farmers”). Eastman was involved in a motor vehicle accident while traveling in a van operated by the Spokane Transit Authority (“STA”). Eastman sustained injuries as a result of the accident. Both the at-fault driver and STA held insurance policies. Eastman collected $50,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Additionally, Eastman collected $48,846 in UIM coverage from STA’s insurance policy. Eastman’s special damages from the accident exceeded the amount that she collected from the two insurance policies. Eastman thereafter filed a claim with her insurer, Farmers, in an attempt to collect her own UIM coverage under the Policy. Specifically, Eastman sought her UIM coverage limit ($500,000) minus the $98,846 that she had already collected from the other insurance policies. Farmers denied Eastman’s claim based on an exclusion within the Policy which eliminated UIM coverage in situations where the insured was riding in another vehicle that had UIM coverage. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Farmers, ruling that an exclusion contained in the Policy precluded UIM coverage for Eastman’s injuries. Finding that the clause in Eastman's policy violated Idaho's public policy, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded this case with direction to invalidate the insurance exclusion at issue here. View "Eastman v. Farmers Insurance" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved an Idaho district court’s denial of a jury trial under Rule 39(b) of the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure and the decision to pierce the corporate veil. The dispute stemmed from a transaction between Kym Nelson, who acted on behalf of KDN Management Inc., (“KDN”), and WinCo, Foods, LLC (“WinCo”), for concrete floor work that KDN performed in several WinCo stores. The district court found that KDN had overcharged WinCo for the work, and awarded WinCo $2,929,383.31 in damages, including attorney fees. The district court also held Nelson and two entities associated with her, SealSource International, LLC, and KD3 Flooring LLC, jointly and severally liable for WinCo’s damages. Nelson, SealSource and KD3 argued on appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court that the trial court erred in concluding: (1) Nelson was personally liable for damages relating to this dispute; and (2) that KDN, SealSource and KD3 were alter egos of one another. Nelson and the corporate co-defendants also argued the district court abused its discretion by denying their motion for a jury trial under Rule of Civil Procedure 39(b). Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the judgment and award of attorney fees to WinCo. View "KDN Management, Inc. v. WinCo" on Justia Law