Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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This case arose from a domestic dispute between Analli Salla and Duane Siercke, and centered on whether any privilege from defamation claims applied to statements made to law enforcement. Salla appealed the district court’s entry of judgment and denial of her motion for a new trial. After misdemeanor domestic battery charges against him were dropped, Siercke filed a civil action against Salla alleging, among other things, defamation. Following a five-day trial, a jury awarded Siercke $25,000.00 on his defamation claim. Salla filed a motion for a new trial, contending the district court erred in instructing the jury on defamation per se because her statements to law enforcement were privileged and her statements did not allege that Siercke had committed a felony. The district court denied the motion and Salla appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court: (1) affirmed the district court’s decision refusing to apply an absolute litigation privilege to the statements made by Salla to law enforcement officers; (2) could not address whether the district court erred in not giving a qualified privilege instruction because that issue was never raised below; and (3) the district court erred in delivering a defamation per se instruction; and (4) reversed the district court’s final judgment and order on Salla’s motion for a new trial. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Siercke v. Siercke" on Justia Law

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Debra Dlouhy, Dustin Dlouhy, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Duane Dlouhy (“the Dlouhys”) appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of Kootenai Health. The district court granted summary judgment on the Dlouhys’ medical malpractice action after determining that the Dlouhys had failed to provide adequate foundation showing that their expert witnesses had actual knowledge of the community standard of care. In May 2015, Duane Dlouhy went to the emergency department because of rectal bleeding. After a CT scan, "no obvious mass" was noted on his records, but that "dark red blood" was present. The radiologist charted that a “neoplasm cannot be excluded.” Mr. Dlouhy was discharged from the hospital and went home, but returned several hours later after the rectal bleeding began again. A colonoscopy was performed, but no complete view of the rectum could be obtained. Mr. Dlouhy was discharged again. He would have follow-up appointments in June and September, 2015, and in January 2016. By August, he had been diagnosed with state IV colorectal cancer. After review of the trial court record, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting Kootenai Health’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Dlouhys failed to provide sufficient expert testimony as to the community standard of care. The Dlouhys argued that “for board-certified physicians, there is a national standard of care.” They argued that Mr. Dlouhy's original emergency physician was subject to the national standard of care that applied to board-certified gastroenterologists, and that their out-of-area expert had actual knowledge of the applicable national standard because he held the same board certification as the local physician. The Supreme Court concluded the expert familiarized himself sufficiently in the community standard of care for board-certified gastroenterologists such that his testimony should not have been excluded. The district court’s order granting summary judgment was reversed in part, the final judgment dismissing the Dlouhys’ medical malpractice claim was vacated, and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Dlouhy v. Kootenai Hospital District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs John Oswald and Nancy Poore appealed a district court judgment granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Costco Wholesale Corporation ("Costco"). In February 2017, Oswald and Poore were walking on that walkway when an elderly driver drove onto a pedestrian walkway that bisected two perpendicular rows of ADA-accessible parking spaces, striking Oswald and pinning him against a vehicle parked on the opposite side, causing Oswald to suffer significant injuries. Plaintiffs sued Costco alleging: (1) premises liability; (2) negligence and willful wanton conduct; (3) negligent infliction of emotional distress; and (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress. After the district court resolved a discovery dispute in Costco’s favor, Costco moved for summary judgment. In granting the motion, the district court ruled that Costco had no notice that its walkway was a dangerous condition and, therefore, owed no duty to redesign it or warn pedestrians about it. The district court entered judgment dismissing the Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court's decision improperly focused on the duty to maintain safe premises to the exclusion of the duty to use reasonable care. Furthermore, the Court found Plaintiffs put forward sufficient evidence to create a disputed issue of material fact on foreseeability and causation, thereby precluding the award of summary judgment. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Oswald v. Costco" on Justia Law

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Appellant Sky Duncan’s daughter, K.R., attended a daycare Anna McCowin ran out of a residence she leased from Respondent Scott Long. In 2014, McCowin left K.R. unattended in the backyard, which allowed K.R. to allegedly escape through a broken gate to a nearby canal where she drowned. Duncan sued McCowin and Long for negligence. Long moved for summary judgment, arguing that he did not owe Duncan or her daughter a duty to repair the broken gate. The district court granted Long’s motion for summary judgment after declining to extend premises liability to an injury that occurred on property adjacent to Long’s property. Duncan filed a motion for reconsideration, which the district court denied. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found the district court correctly held that Long did not owe K.R. a duty of care to protect against an injury that occurred on adjacent property. Therefore, the Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in Long's favor. View "Duncan v. Long" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Nicole Packer was injured when she fell from an unlit loading dock at the Kingston Plaza in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Packer, working as a vendor at a Christmas-themed exposition, alleged she had been directed to use the rear exit by a representative of Riverbend Communications, LLC, the organizer of the exposition and the occupier of the property at the heart of this litigation. The rear exit was unlit, and when Packer left the building, she was unable to re-enter. Because of the lack of light, Packer did not realize she was on a loading dock which was five feet above the adjoining pavement. When she proceeded towards the lit parking lot, she fell to the asphalt and was seriously injured. Packer sued Kingston Properties (owner of the property), as well as Riverbend Communications, LLC. Following discovery, the defendants sought and were granted summary judgment. Packer unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration. She timely appealed the district court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of Riverbend. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Riverbend because Packer was an invitee; the district court erred as a matter of law in determining Packer was a licensee. Because Packer was an invitee, Riverbend owed her the duty to warn her of hidden or concealed dangers and to keep the property in reasonably safe condition. On these facts, the Supreme Court concluded a jury could have reasonably concluded that Riverbend breached either or both of the duties it owed to Packer. Accordingly, the district court’s decision granting summary judgment was reversed. View "Packer v. Riverbend Communications" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of a stabbing that took place outside of an Idaho Falls bar. Steven and Audra Fell were patrons of the First Street Saloon, owned and operated by Fat Smitty’s L.L.C. (Fat Smitty’s). Towards the end of the evening, an altercation took place that resulted in Steven Fell being stabbed by another patron, LaDonna Hall. The Fells filed a complaint against Fat Smitty’s, alleging Fat Smitty’s breached its duty to: (1) warn the Fells, as invitees, of any hidden or concealed dangers in the bar; (2) keep the bar in a reasonably safe condition; and (3) protect the Fells from reasonably foreseeable injury at the hands of other patrons at the bar. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Fat Smitty’s, ruling that the Fells’ claims were barred by Idaho’s Dram Shop Act because the Fells failed to give Fat Smitty’s timely notice of their claims. The Fells appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Fell v. Fat Smitty's" 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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Nine-year-old girl Shaeley Noel was seriously injured while playing on playground equipment owned by the City of Rigby (City) and located in the City’s South Park. Shaeley and her parents (collectively the Noels) filed suit in district court alleging willful and wanton conduct by the City in the construction and/or maintenance of its playground equipment. The City claimed the park was closed for winter at the time Shaeley was injured. A jury rendered a verdict in favor of the City when it found that the City did not owe a duty to Shaeley. The Noels filed a motion for a new trial, which the district court granted. The City appealed the district court’s decision to grant a new trial, as well as the district court’s decisions to deny the City’s motion for a directed verdict and the City’s motion to exclude the Noels’ expert witness. The Noels cross-appealed, arguing the trial court erred by: (1) rejecting of evidence of Shaeley’s unadjusted medical bills; (2) preventing the Noels’ expert witness from testifying regarding the City’s purported willful and wanton conduct; (3) allowing a jury instruction regarding comparative negligence; and (4) admitting of evidence regarding the seasonal closure of the park. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court decisions with regard to: (1) the City’s motion for a directed verdict; (2) the Noels’ motion for a new trial; (3) the Noels’ expert testifying; (4) the jury instruction; and (5) admission of evidence of the park closure. Additionally, the Court reversed the district court with respect to: (1) the Noels introducing Shaeley’s unadjusted medical bills; and (2) preclusion of the Noels’ expert from testifying that the City engaged in willful and wanton conduct. As a result, the matter was remanded for a new trial. View "Noel v. City of Rigby" on Justia Law

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Michael Richardson was injured while working, and attempted to recover personal injury damages outside of the worker’s compensation system. Hayden Homes subcontracted with Z&H Construction, LLC, Plumbing Unlimited, LLC, and Alignment Construction, LLC for various aspects of a new construction project. Richardson was employed by Alignment, and worked on Hayden’s construction project. He was injured when he fell through a crawl space cover at the construction site. He received a worker’s compensation award from the worker’s compensation insurer for his direct employer, Alignment. After Richardson received his worker’s compensation award, he sued Z&H, Hernandez Framing, LLC (a subcontractor of Z&H), and Plumbing Unlimited (collectively, “Respondent LLCs”), alleging negligence in the construction of the crawl space cover. The district court granted the Respondent LLCs’ motion for summary judgment, determining that the Respondent LLCs were Richardson’s statutory co-employees and immune from suit pursuant to Idaho Code section 72- 209(3). Finding no reversible error in that reasoning, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order granting summary judgment. View "Richardson v. Z&H Construction, LLC" on Justia Law

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Amey Nelson brought a negligence claim against Stefani Kaufman, the Idaho Falls Anytime Fitness, and AT Fitness, LLC. Nelson was using a weight machine at the Idaho Falls Anytime Fitness under the direction of Kaufman, a personal trainer, when Nelson injured a metacarpal bone in her hand. Nelson filed suit alleging that Kaufman had improperly instructed her on the machine’s use, which caused her injury. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Kaufman, holding that Kaufman was an express or apparent agent of Anytime Fitness and therefore released from liability under the terms of the Member Assumption of Risk and Release form Nelson signed when she joined the gym. Nelson unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration, and appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court determined Nelson did not waive her appeal by failing to expressly challenge the district court's finding of an express agency relationship. The Court determined the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Kaufman on the basis that Kaufman was an express agent of Anytime Fitness. Further, the court erred in apply the apparent agency doctrine defensively to find Kaufman was covered by the specific terms of the Membership Agreement. With judgment reversed, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings. View "Nelson v. Kaufman" on Justia Law