Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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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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This appeal arose out of an agent contract dispute between Bret Kunz (“Bret”) and Nield, Inc. (“N.I.”) authorizing Bret to sell insurance on behalf of N.I. N.I. is owned by two brothers, Bryan Nield (“Bryan”) and Benjamin Nield. A dispute arose concerning the method and type of compensation available to Bret under the Contract. Bret filed a complaint seeking, inter alia, a declaratory judgment interpreting the Contract. The district court held the 2009 Contract did not provide for profit sharing as Bret claimed. Bret and his wife, Marti, (collectively, the “Kunzes”) appealed. Finding no reversible errors with respect to how the district court interpreted the Contract, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Kunz v. Nield, Inc." on Justia Law

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Ashley Palmer (Palmer) and Stephen Palmer appealed a district court’s order granting Lisa Ellefson’s motion for a new trial under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a)(6). Ellefson was involved in an automobile accident caused by Palmer. A jury found that Ellefson was not injured in the accident. However, the district court determined that the jury verdict of “no injury” was against the clear weight of evidence and granted a new trial subject to an additur in the amount of $50,000. On appeal, Palmer argued that the district court abused its discretion in granting the new trial and in setting additur at $50,000. Finding no such error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ellefson v. Palmer" on Justia Law

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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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The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in determining that the insurer did not breach its insurance contract with its insureds, and in dismissing the insureds’ bad faith claim that resulted from that determination. Plaintiffs Joel and Kathleen Harmon filed a claim with their insurance company, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., after their motorhome was broken into and damaged. The Harmons subsequently brought suit against State Farm in district court, claiming that State Farm breached the insurance agreement by failing to pay the amount required to actually repair the vehicle or pay the cash value. The Harmons also brought a claim for bad faith. State Farm moved for summary judgment on both claims, which the district court granted. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Harmon v. State Farm Mutual Auto Ins Co." on Justia Law

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Leticia Salinas injured her back while working for Bridgeview Estates (“Employer”). After receiving medical treatment for roughly six weeks, her workers’ compensation benefits were temporarily denied by Old Republic Insurance Company. Nearly two years later, Salinas filed a claim for reimbursement for medical costs and all future medical care. The Idaho Industrial Commission concluded that Salinas failed to prove that she was entitled to payment of compensation. Notwithstanding that conclusion, the Commission awarded Salinas attorney’s fees. The Employer appealed the award. The Supreme Court concluded the Commission erred in awarding attorney’s fees, and vacated the judgment. View "Salinas v. Bridgeview Estates" on Justia Law

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The faulty, inadequate, or defective work exclusion did not apply to the loss in this case. At issue in this appeal was the dismissal of Plaintiff’s action seeking to recover under an insurance policy for the loss of her house caused when a renter, who had an option to purchase the house, demolished it. The district court held that coverage for such loss was excluded under the policy. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Fisher v. Garrison Property & Casualty Ins" on Justia Law

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Donna Simono attended a meeting hosted by Treasure Valley Area of Narcotics Anonymous (“TVNA”) at the Turner House in Mountain Home. When leaving the meeting, she fell down the stairs and injured her ankles. Simono brought a negligence action against Turner House, Larry Rodgers, and Cheryl Baker (collectively “Turner House”). Turner House filed a third-party complaint against TVNA, alleging that TVNA was responsible for maintaining the area where Simono fell. Turner House also sought indemnification for Simono’s claims. The jury returned a verdict finding neither Turner House nor TVNA negligent, and the district court entered judgment dismissing Simono’s complaint and Turner House’s third-party complaint. TVNA filed a motion seeking attorney fees against Turner House under Idaho Code section 12-120(3). The district court denied the motion for fees, concluding that the lawsuit was not based on a commercial transaction. TVNA appealed the district court’s denial of its motion for fees. Both TVNA and Turner House sought attorney fees on appeal. Finding that the district court erred in concluding that TVNA was not entitled to attorney fees, the Supreme Court reversed. Fees and costs on appeal were awarded to TVNA. View "Turner House v. Treasure Valley Area of Narcotics Anonymous" on Justia Law

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A wildfire destroyed David and Kristina Parks’ house, which was insured by Safeco Insurance Company (“Safeco”). The Parks purchased an existing house, and Safeco paid the Parks a total of $255,000, the cost of the replacement house less the value of the land. The Parks filed a complaint against Safeco alleging: (1) they were entitled to $440,195.55 under the policy; and (2) Safeco committed bad faith in handling the claim. Safeco filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asserting that the policy was not breached and its conduct did not constitute bad faith. The Parks filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment asserting that Safeco misrepresented the policy. Additionally, the Parks moved to amend their complaint to include a claim for punitive damages. The district court held that: (1) there was no breach of contract because the policy was unambiguous and the Parks received the amount due under the clear language of the policy; (2) Safeco did not commit bad faith in handling the claim because it complied with the terms of the policy and paid the Parks the amount owed; and (3) the Parks had not established a reasonable likelihood of proving facts at trial sufficient to support an award of punitive damages. The Parks appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Parks v. Safeco Ins Co of Illinois" on Justia Law

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In early 2011, Trent Gearheart was severely injured in an automobile accident caused by an underinsured motorist (“UIM”). After the accident, Trent’s parents, Ronald Gearhart and Brandi L. McMahon, who were divorced, each attempted to collect on their separately held auto insurance policies with Enumclaw. Each of those policies provided maximum coverage of $300,000 for accidents caused by underinsured motorists. Enumclaw contended that because of anti-stacking language in the policies, the total UIM benefit under the combined policies was limited to $300,000. The district court held on summary judgment that the UIM anti-stacking provision in each policy was invalid and, therefore, ruled that Enumclaw was obligated for the full $300,000 policy limit on both policies. Enumclaw appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Gearhart v. Mutual of Enumclaw Ins Co" on Justia Law