Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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Ibrahim and Halida Ekic (the Ekics) and the estate of Aldina Ekic appealed district court decisions to grant summary judgment to Geico Indemnity Company (Geico) on their claims of breach of contract, misrepresentations in the inducement, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory estoppel and to award attorney fees to Geico. Aldina was killed in an automobile accident caused by the negligence of a third party. The Ekics recovered the total policy proceeds of $25,000 from the third party’s insurance carrier. The Ekics demanded payment from Geico for the payment of $25,000 under Aldina’s underinsured motorist policy. Geico refused to issue a payment under the language of the policy. The Ekics filed suit. Sometime after Geico filed an answer, Geico filed a motion for summary judgment with a supporting affidavit from Geico’s counsel that included a copy of the Ekics’ answers to several interrogatories, a copy of Aldina’s Geico policy, and the vehicle collision report for the accident involving Aldina and the third party. The district court granted summary judgment for Geico on each of these claims. The Ekics then amended their complaint, with the permission of the district court, to add the additional claim of promissory estoppel and Geico filed an amended answer. Counsel for Geico advised the district court during a scheduling conference that Geico would be filing a motion for summary judgment on the additional claim. At the hearing, the district court granted Geico’s motion for summary judgment because the court found that “even viewing all the facts in light most favorable to the Plaintiff, there was no admissible evidence to support” their claim. The Ekics filed a motion to set aside the judgment which was denied by the district court. Geico requested attorney fees and the district court awarded them pursuant to Idaho Code section 41- 1839(4). The Ekics argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Geico, but finding no such error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgments. View "Ekic v. Geico" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was what constituted “good cause” for failing to timely serve a defendant in accordance with the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure. The case began with a May 2014 auto collision in Idaho Falls involving Melanie Hansen and Gary White. Hansen claimed White’s negligence caused the collision, and she filed a complaint against him in May 2016. Process servers attempted to serve White in October 2016 at the address listed on the police report, which was taken from his driver’s license, but White had not lived at that address for years. Days before the six-month deadline, Hansen attempted service by publication without obtaining a court order as required by statute. The process server also left the complaint and summons with White’s daughter-in-law at the address listed on the police report. White filed a motion to dismiss for lack of service in November 2016. The district court initially found that good cause existed for Hansen’s failure to timely serve White, but after holding a hearing on White’s subsequent motion for reconsideration, dismissed the claim without prejudice for failure to timely serve. Hansen appealed the dismissal. Finding no reversible error, however, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hansen v. White" on Justia Law

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Animal Control Officer Laurie Deus responded to a report of a vicious dog. When she arrived on scene, a black and white pit bull, later identified as “Bo,” aggressively charged anyone who got near him. Bo was declared aggressive, and later dangerous. Mark and Robyn Munkhoffs’ son Sam Munkhoff (“Sam”) was Bo’s owner, and Bo was kept on the Munkoff’s property. Months later, Officer Deus received a report of a dog bite that occurred near the Munkhoffs’ home. The owner of the dog was identified as Sam. Sam was cited for having an animal running at large, an animal attacking, biting or chasing, and Bo was declared dangerous. The responding animal control officer cited Mark too, whose dog Dexter was also running at large. Mark told the officer that “Sam is absolutely not allowed to move back in nor is he allowed to bring Bo back even for a visit.” Officers tried to locate Sam and Bo; Mark told officers on the phone that “if that dog shows up [I] will shoot it.” Bo bit the Munkoffs’ neighbor, Klaus Kummerling. The Kummerlings filed a complaint, alleging claims for negligence, gross negligence, outrage, and nuisance against the City of Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Ron Clark, the Munkhoffs, and Sam. The Kummerlings did not allege in their complaint that the Munkhoffs were vicariously liable for Sam’s conduct. The district court dismissed the claims against the City and Chief Clark. The Munkhoffs filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted as to all claims except the claim for negligence. Sam, who represented himself, did not join in the Munkhoffs’ summary judgment motion. This case was tried to a jury, and the jury returned a special verdict, finding that the Munkhoffs and their son Sam were negligent, negligent per se, and that their negligence was the actual and proximate cause of Kummerling’s injuries. The jury allocated fault and calculated damages. Kummerling was awarded $16,603.00 in economic damages and $185,000.00 in non-economic damages. The Munkhoffs moved for a new trial pursuant to Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A), (F), and (G), for remittitur pursuant to Idaho Code section 6-807 and Rule 59.1, and for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3). The district court denied the motions, and a judgment was entered on November 7, 2016. On December 14, 2016, the Munkhoffs timely appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error in the trial court’s decision and affirmed. View "Litke v. Munkhoff" on Justia Law

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The grant of summary judgment dismissed an action originally brought by Diane Brooks against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (“Wal-Mart”) based on injuries Brooks received when she slipped and fell on a puddle of water near a Rug Doctor self-service kiosk (the “kiosk”) inside a store in Boise, Idaho. Brooks based her claims on premises liability and negligent mode of operation, alleging Wal-Mart knew or should have known that water could spill or leak onto the floor near the kiosk. Wal-Mart moved for summary judgment, arguing that Brooks failed to establish Wal-Mart had actual or constructive notice of the condition that caused her injury, because there was no evidence showing where the liquid came from, how long it had been on the floor, or what it was. The district court agreed; the Supreme Court did not. The Supreme Court found material issues of fact existed, thus precluding summary judgment. The case was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Brooks v. Wal-Mart" 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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Charles Hartgrave appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission (the Commission) order. Hartgrave sustained injuries to his left knee while working for the City of Twin Falls (the City) on February 3, 2009, and August 23, 2012. Although Hartgrave’s left knee injuries and corresponding treatments were covered by Idaho’s Workers Compensation Act, Hartgrave argued the left knee injuries aggravated preexisting degenerative joint disease in his right knee and ultimately required a total knee arthroplasty (TKA) in his right knee. The Commission rejected Hartgrave’s position and ruled that Hartgrave’s right TKA was not compensable. Finding no reversible error in the Commission's order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hartgrave v. City of Twin Falls" on Justia Law

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This is an appeal from the district court’s grant of summary judgment against Dea Haight (“Haight”) and the dismissal of her complaint for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. Haight alleged that the Idaho Department of Transportation (“ITD”) was negligent in placing and maintaining construction barrels on Interstate 90 (“I-90”) in Shoshone County, Idaho. At Mile Post 53, Haight alleges that one of the barrels was completely within the lane of travel in the north passing lane for eastbound traffic - the only lane open for eastbound traffic at the time. Haight claims the barrel caught both arms on the awning of her fifth wheel camper trailer, ripping one arm completely away from the body of the camper and partially tearing away the other arm. In addition to her negligence claim, Haight alleged portions of Idaho’s motorcycle and driver’s manuals published by the State misrepresent the law and prescribe standards which present a danger to motorists. The district court concluded that Haight failed to present sufficient evidence to support her negligence claim and that she lacked standing to bring a declaratory judgment action against ITD. Haight argued on appeal the trial court erred. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Haight’s case. View "Haight v. Idaho Dept of Transportation" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Idaho Supreme Court in this appeal centered on an Industrial Commission order denying that Dr. Richard Jobe’s Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (“MRSA”) constituted a compensable occupational disease. The Commission denied Jobe’s claim because it found he failed to prove that his MRSA colonization and infection were caused by his employment with Dirne Clinic/Heritage Health (“Heritage”). Jobe appealed, arguing the Commission applied the wrong legal standard in requiring him to prove his MRSA colonization and infection were caused by his employment at Heritage. In this case, as in Sundquist v. Precision Steel & Gypsum, Inc., 111 P.3d 135 (2005), Jobe’s MRSA colonization could have been incurred under a series of different employers before it manifested during his employment at Heritage. The Commission determined Jobe had not shown it was more probable than not that Jobe had become colonized with MRSA while employed at Heritage. Furthermore, the Commission did not undertake an analysis as to whether the colonization could have been incurred under a series of different employers prior to Jobe’s employment at Heritage, thereby contravening Sundquist. In fact, the Commission used the possibility of MRSA colonization from a prior employer to Jobe’s detriment. Thus, the Commission applied an erroneous legal standard. View "Jobe v. Dirne Clinic / Heritage Health" on Justia Law

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While employed by Zing LLC, Josue Barrios (“Claimant”) was totally and permanently disabled as a result of an industrial accident when he fell about twelve feet from a ladder and hit his head face first on a concrete floor. He suffered multiple facial fractures, a frontal bone fracture, the loss of sight in his left eye, and a severe traumatic brain injury that caused a major neurocognitive disorder and speech language deficits. This case was an appeal of an Industrial Commission order requiring an employer and its surety to pay the cost of a guardian and a conservator for Barrios. Finding no reversible error in the Commission's order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Barrios v. Zing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Perry Krinitt, Sr. appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the State of Idaho and the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). Perry Krinitt, Jr. (“Perry”) was a pilot for Leading Edge Aviation. He died when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in Kamiah, Idaho. Perry was flying IDFG employees Larry Bennett and Danielle Schiff to conduct a fish survey on the Selway River. Bennett and Schiff also died in the crash. An investigation revealed that the accident was caused when a clipboard struck the tail rotor: one of the passengers became sick and opened the helicopter door, dropping the clipboard in the process. Krinitt filed a wrongful death suit based in negligence seeking damages against IDFG for Perry’s death. IDFG did not assert statutory immunity under Idaho’s Worker’s Compensation Act as a defense. IDFG moved for summary judgment on grounds that Krinitt could not prove negligence. The district court ruled that IDFG was a statutory employer under the Idaho Worker’s Compensation Act and, consequently, IDFG was entitled to immunity from actions based on the work-related death of Perry. Krinitt appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Krinitt v. Idaho Dept of Fish & Game" on Justia Law