Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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Plaintiff’s action to recover under an insurance policy for the loss of her house caused when a renter (who had an option to purchase) demolished it. The trial court determined the insurance policy at issue excluded for such a loss. Within two months of renting the property, plaintiff learned the renter demolished the house. The renter agreed to rebuild a house on the remaining foundation. The renter started, but did not finish, rebuilding the house. Plaintiff thereafter made a claim on her insurance policy. The Idaho Supreme Court found after review of this matter, that the words in an insurance policy were to be given the meaning applied by lay people in daily usage. One such clause implicated the intentional destruction of the house as compared to accidental loss or inadequate remodeling. The renter’s actions in demolishing plaintiff’s house down to the foundation would not be considered by lay people as the “remodeling” of the house. He did not make alterations to an existing structure; he demolished that structure. There was no house left to remodel. Plaintiff had authorized the renter to perform some remodeling, such as installing new flooring, countertops, light fixtures, paint and other cosmetic improvements, but there was no evidence in the record that he did any remodeling at all, much less that the direct cause of the loss of the Plaintiff’s house was caused by any remodeling that had been done. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of the insurance company. View "Fisher v. Garrison Property & Casualty Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a lawsuit brought by a contractor, Michael Kelly against his former client, Pamela Wagner, alleging nonpayment of amounts due to him for the performance of construction work. The district court found in favor of Kelly and awarded him a total judgment of $13,762.54 ($4,694.64 of damages and $9,067.90 of prejudgment interest). On appeal, Wagner argued that the district court erred in finding that Kelly was owed for the construction work. She further argued that the district court erred in awarding prejudgment interest to Kelly. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Kelly v. Wagner" on Justia Law

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The issue in this appeal centered on whether a force majeure clause in a written contract between the county and a developer did not apply to the developer’s failure to obtain zoning approval in order to construct the cement plant required in the agreement. After review of the contract and the clause at issue here, the Supreme Court held that the clause was broad enough to apply. Accordingly, the Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Burns Concrete, Inc v. Teton County" on Justia Law

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In 2013, plaintiff Fagen, Inc. filed this lawsuit seeking to recover damages for work it had done in the construction of a wind park located in Bingham County. It named as defendants Lava Beds Wind Park, LLC; Exergy Development Group of Idaho, LLC; and XRG Development Partners, LLC (collectively “Defendants”); and Tabor Wind Farms, LLC. The district court entered an order dismissing Plaintiff’s claims against Tabor pursuant to a stipulation of those parties. Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint against the remaining defendants, alleging causes of action to foreclose a mechanic’s lien, to recover damages for breach of contract, and to recover damages in quantum meruit. Plaintiff moved for summary judgment seeking a judgment against Lava Beds and Exergy Development for breach of contract. In opposition to that motion, defendants filed two affidavits, which merely contained vague and conclusory allegations. The district court denied defendants’ motion to continue the hearing on summary judgment. During the hearing, Plaintiff stated that it withdrew its claim to foreclose a mechanic’s lien and its claims against XRG, which resolved these Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Defense counsel admitted that Lava Beds and Exergy Development had breached their contract with Plaintiff, but he argued that one of the affidavits showed a need for further discovery at least as to the issue of damages. The court took the motion for summary judgment under advisement, then granted Plaintiff’s motion. It held that the conclusory affidavits submitted by Defendants were insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment. On the same date, the court entered an order granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Lava Beds and Exergy Development's motion for reconsideration was denied, and they appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision. View "Fagen v. Lava Beds Wind Park" on Justia Law

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This case was an appeal of an amended judgment awarding damages for breach of contract, court costs, and attorney fees in connection with a contract to construct five wind farms. Because the parties had stipulated to that portion of the judgment regarding the damages for breach of contract, those issues were not subject to appellate review. Because the only challenge to the award of attorney fees was raised for the first time on appeal, the Supreme Court did not consider it. The Court therefore affirmed the amended judgment and the award of costs and attorney fees on appeal. View "Fagen v. Rogerson Flats Wind Park" on Justia Law

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Richard and Lisa Keane and the companies they managed, and Bald, Fat & Ugly, LLC (BFU) had a disagreement arising from a development deal involving the Houston Professional Plaza. They went to mediation, but the parties had a disagreement regarding the terms of the mediated agreement. They then turned to arbitration. The arbitrator granted two awards in favor of BFU. The award did not specify any date by which the Keanes were to pay the money, nor did the award include interest. The district court confirmed the arbitration awards, and issued a writ of execution. The sheriff returned the writ not satisfied. BFU then obtained an order for a debtor's examination. A partial satisfaction of judgment was made, but the Keanes did not direct how the payment made was to be applied to the two arbitration awards. BFU applied the partial satisfaction to one of the awards, and filed a motion to have the Keanes held in contempt for failing to pay the second. The Keanes challenged the contempt action. The Supreme Court, after its review of the matter, found that because the order confirming the arbitration award did not require the Keanes to do anything and because contempt cannot be used to enforce payment of the debt in this case, the Court reversed the judgment of the district court finding them in contempt and the order later entered awarding the respondent attorney fees and court costs. View "Bald, Fat & Ugly v. Keane" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case concerned the grant of summary judgment dismissing an action to enforce an oral agreement to guaranty the debt of another on the ground that the agreement was barred by the statute of frauds. Sunshine Secretarial Services subleased office space from Accelerated Paving, Inc., and at times provided it with secretarial services. Accelerated Paving owed Plaintiff-Appellant Mickelsen Construction, Inc. money ($34,980.00) for providing asphalt to an Accelerated jobsite. Mickelsen threatened to file a materialmen’s lien against the real property on which the work was being done, and Accelerated's vice president asked that it not do so because that would delay the receipt of payment for the construction job. The vice president offered to pay the debt with an American Express credit card, but Mickelsen responded that it did not accept American Express credit cards. There was disagreement as to what happened next: Accelerate's vice president said there was not enough credit on the card to fund the payment, but when Accelerated received payment for the project it would pay down the balance so that there was enough credit to pay Mickelsen with the card. Mickelsen agreed not to file the lien if Accelerated could find someone to guaranty the payment by the credit card. Defendant-Respondent Lesa Horrocks of Sunshine agreed to do so and gave Mickelsen a check in the amount owed, drawn on Sunshine's account. Sunshine had a credit card machine that was capable of transacting with several credit cards including American Express credit cards. They told her that American Express had approved the transaction and asked her to use Sunshine credit card machine to run the transaction. It appeared to her that the transaction had been approved by American Express. issued the check. Several days later, Accelerated informed her that American Express had not approved the transaction. Accelerated then filed for bankruptcy. Mickelsen then sued Ms. Horrocks and Sunshine alleging that they had agreed to guaranty the credit card payment and so issued the check. The Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the alleged guaranty was barred by the statute of limitations in Idaho Code section 9-505. In response, Mickelsen argued that the check was a sufficient writing under the statute of frauds and, if not, that the transaction was governed by Idaho Code section 9-506 and therefore exempt from the statute of frauds. The district court held that the check was an insufficient writing and that section 9-506 did not apply because the Defendants did not receive any direct benefit. The court granted the motion for summary judgment and entered a judgment dismissing this action. Mickelsen then appealed. Finding no error with the district court's decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Mickelsen Const v. Horrocks" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a protracted contract dispute arising out of the construction of Meridian’s new City Hall. The City brought suit against the project’s construction manager, Petra, Inc., alleging that Petra breached the parties’ agreement in a number of ways. The City further claimed that Petra was not entitled to any additional fees for its work. Petra counterclaimed, seeking an equitable adjustment of its construction manager fee. After trial, the district court entered its findings of fact and conclusions of law, ruling against the City on all but one of its claims and awarding Petra an additional fee for its services. The court awarded Petra $595,896.17 in costs and $1,275,416.50 in attorney fees, but stayed enforcement of the judgment pending appeal. The City appealed. Finding no error in the district court's judgment in favor of Petra, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "City of Meridian v. PETRA Inc." on Justia Law

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This issue before the Supreme Court in this case centered on an action to recover damages from a well driller who drilled a well that later caved in. The district court granted the well driller's motion for summary judgment on the ground that the alleged claims of negligence and breach of contract were barred by the applicable statutes of limitations, and the court dismissed the action. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that that the breach of contract claim was indeed barred by the statute of limitations and that the negligence claim was barred by the economic loss rule. The Court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the case. View "Stapleton v. Jack Cushman Drilling" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from an action brought by Stonebrook Construction, LLC against Chase Home Finance, LLC where it sought to foreclose a mechanic's lien. The district court granted Chase's motion for summary judgment, holding that Stonebrook was precluded from placing a lien against the subject property because it did not properly register under the Idaho Contractor Registration Act (ICRA) Stonebrook appealed, arguing that Chase lacked standing to assert this defense and was not within the class intended to be protected by the ICRA. Alternatively, Stonebrook contended that the good-faith registration of one member of the LLC constituted actual or substantial compliance with the requirements of the ICRA. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court affirmed: "the plain language of the Act unambiguously indicates that the Legislature intended to require all limited liability companies engaged in the business of construction to register as contractors and to preclude those that do not register from enforcing mechanic's liens. Although the result for Stonebrook is harsh, it is the result the Legislature intended. [The Court was] not at liberty to disregard this legislative determination as to the most effective means of protecting the public." Thus, the Court declined to vacate the district court’s decision. View "Stonebrook Construction, LLC v. Chase Home Finance, LLC" on Justia Law