Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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This appeal originated from a claim for attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-117. The district court held that Hauser Lake Rod and Gun Club, Inc. was not entitled to attorney fees under section 12-117 because, even though it had prevailed against the City of Hauser in a code violation dispute, the administrative tribunal that reviewed the dispute was staffed with both County and City officials. According to the district court, section 12-117’s definition of “political subdivision” does not include administrative review tribunals staffed with officials from multiple governmental entities. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erroneously interpreted Idaho Code section 12-117 by concluding the Joint Board was not a “political subdivision:” the decision of the Board of County Commissioners was the act of a political subdivision. The statutory definition of a political subdivision expressly included counties. "As with any corporate body, a county may only act through its human agents. Under Idaho law, those agents are the Board because a county’s 'powers can only be exercised by the board of county commissioners, or by agents and officers acting under their authority, or authority of law.'" View "Hauser Lake Rod & Gun Club v. City of Hauser" on Justia Law

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The Ada County Highway District (“ACHD”) appealed a district court judgment awarding $148,390.21 plus prejudgment interest and attorney’s fees to Brooke View, Inc. d/b/a The Senator (“Brooke View”) as just compensation for a parcel of property that ACHD condemned and took possession of under the State’s eminent domain powers. ACHD argued on appeal that the district court misconstrued the law when it allowed Brooke View to recover the cost to repair damage to a wall on Brooke View’s property, which the jury found had been caused by the construction of improvements on the taken parcel. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found the district court erred in instructing the jury on "just compensation," and those instructions prejudiced ACHD. Furthermore, the Court found the district court erred in admitting certain evidence on events, activities and damages that occurred during construction of improvements on the property. The Court vacated the award of attorney fees, and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Ada Co Hwy Dist v. Brooke View, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellants appealed the district court's denial of their motion for summary judgment and the grant of summary judgment in favor of the Board of the Local Improvement District No. 1101 and the Ada County Board of Commissioners (the Boards) in a case regarding assessments levied on properties within the Sage Acres Local Improvement District. Appellants also appealed the district court’s award of attorney fees to the Boards. Ada County Ordinance No. 780 established the Ada County Local Improvement District No. 1101, known as Sage Acres Local Improvement District (LID). The ordinance was adopted in 2011. The purpose of the LID was to construct a water delivery system for residential and irrigation use by properties within the Sage Acres Subdivision (Sage Acres) in Boise. water system was completed in 2014. Appellants challenged the creation of the LID and Ada County Ordinance No. 809, which confirmed the assessments levied on properties affected by the LID. In 2013, Appellants filed a Notice of Appeal from Assessments; the district court set the matter for trial in 2014, and ordered the parties to mediate no later than 90 days prior to trial. Prior to mediation, the Boards moved for summary judgment, arguing that Appellants’ claims were not legally or factually supported. Finding no reversible error in the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Boards, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hoffman v. Bd of Local Improvement Dist No. 1101" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of a permit application to obtain a water right filed by the respondents, North Snake Ground Water District, Magic Valley Ground Water District and Southwest Irrigation District (“the Districts”), to appropriate water from Billingsley Creek on real property owned by appellant Rangen, Inc. After the Director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources denied the application in a final order, the Districts petitioned for judicial review. The district court set aside the Director’s final order. Rangen appealed. Rangen historically diverted water from Billingsley Creek. Before the Department ruled on the Districts’ April 2013 application, Rangen filed a competing application on February 3, 2014. Rangen’s application sought to divert 59 cfs from Billingsley Creek for fish propagation, with the same source and point of diversion elements as the Districts had requested. On January 2, 2015, Rangen’s application was approved for 28.1 cfs for fish propagation with a priority date of February 3, 2014. This permit had apparently not been challenged. Department employee James Cefalo presided over a hearing on the Districts’ application and subsequently issued a Preliminary Order Issuing Permit in which he found that the application was made in good faith, did not conflict with the local public interest, and otherwise satisfied the necessary requirements. Therefore, he approved a conditional permit authorizing the Districts to appropriate 12 cfs from Billingsley Creek for mitigation purposes with a priority date of April 3, 2013. Rangen filed a protest of the hearing officer’s preliminary order with the Director. After the parties briefed the issues, the Director subsequently issued a final order overturning the hearing officer’s decision and denying the application. The Director concluded that the Districts’ application was made in bad faith and that the application was not in the local public interest. The Districts petitioned for judicial review, asserting that the Director abused his discretion and exceeded his authority in denying their application. On judicial review, the district court set aside the Director’s final order, concluding that the application was neither made in bad faith nor counter to the local public interest. The district court also rejected Rangen’s arguments that the Districts’ application was incomplete or speculative and that mitigation is not a recognized beneficial use of water under Idaho law. Rangen appealed again. After review of the district court record, the Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in its judgment and affirmed. View "Rangen, Inc v. North Snake Ground Water Dist." on Justia Law

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At issue before the Supreme Court in this matter was an action for declaratory relief related to planning and zoning in Canyon County. Appellant Coalition for Agriculture’s Future sued respondents Canyon County and the Canyon County Board of Commissioners (collectively “Canyon County”) under the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act, seeking to invalidate Canyon County’s 2011 comprehensive plan and amendments thereto for noncompliance with Idaho’s Local Land Use Planning Act (LLUPA). The district court granted Canyon County’s motion to dismiss the action for lack of standing. The Coalition appealed. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Coalition for Agricultures's Future v. Canyon County" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Supreme Court in this matter was an action for declaratory relief related to planning and zoning in Canyon County. Appellant Coalition for Agriculture’s Future sued respondents Canyon County and the Canyon County Board of Commissioners (collectively “Canyon County”) under the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act, seeking to invalidate Canyon County’s 2011 comprehensive plan and amendments thereto for noncompliance with Idaho’s Local Land Use Planning Act (LLUPA). The district court granted Canyon County’s motion to dismiss the action for lack of standing. The Coalition appealed. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Coalition for Agricultures's Future v. Canyon County" on Justia Law

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Appellants Richard Hehr and Greystone Villages, LLC (collectively "Greystone") appealed a district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondent City of McCall. Greystone's claims arose out of its development agreement with McCall. Greystone alleged it deeded nine lots to McCall in lieu of paying the required community housing fee, which was later declared unconstitutional in a separate proceeding. Greystone brought inverse condemnation claims against McCall alleging that the conveyance of the lots and the improvements made to those lots constituted an illegal taking under both the Idaho Constitution and the United States Constitution. McCall moved for summary judgment, which the district court granted. Finding no error in the district court's decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hehr v. City of McCall" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Peter Kaseburg was a littoral owner on Lake Pend Oreille who held an encroachment permit for a series of decaying wooden pilings that were driven into the lakebed in the 1930s. With the exception of a single piling that a neighboring marina uses to anchor one of its docks, the pilings never had any known navigational purpose. Petitioner applied to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) for a permit to replace ten of the wooden pilings with steel pilings, but failed to specify any navigational purpose for this proposal. The IDL considered the application a request for a nonnavigational encroachment permit and denied it after receiving several objections. While a final decision was still pending on the first permit application, Petitioner filed a second application for a permit to install a mobile dock system and mooring buoy. The IDL considered the second application a request for a permit for a navigational encroachment extending beyond the line of navigability. Again, the IDL received many objections and denied the application. Petitioner then sought judicial review, which reversed the IDL. The court held that all pilings were navigational encroachments as a matter of law, regardless of whether they have ever been used to aid navigation. The district court set aside both denials. The IDL appealed to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the district court with respect to the first application, but affirmed the district court with respect to the second. View "Idaho Bd of Land Comm v. Kaseburg" on Justia Law

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Subdivision developers Buckskin Properties, Inc. and Timberline Development, LLC (collectively Buckskin) brought suit against Valley County seeking recovery of monies paid to the County for road development, and declaratory relief from payment of any further monies. The district court granted summary judgment to the County and Buckskin appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that a governing board may lawfully make a voluntary agreement with a land developer for the funding and construction of new infrastructure. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the County. View "Buckskin Prop v. Valley County" on Justia Law

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Appellant Camas County appealed an injunction granted by the district court against the enforcement of Camas County Ordinances 150 and 153, and Resolutions 96 and 103 (2007 zoning amendments). Plaintiff-Respondent George Martin opposed the zoning amendments at a public hearing of the Camas County Board of Commissioners. In late 2008 while this case was still being adjudicated, Martin filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against 2008 zoning amendments. Camas County removed the case to the federal district court, which ultimately granted Martin's requested relief to the 2007 amendments. The federal district court then remanded the case to the state district court. Martin was granted attorney fees and costs as a result of the federal district court's order; the court held that Camas County acted without a reasonable basis in fact or law. Camas County appealed, maintaining that the district court abused its discretion in ordering the injunction and should have awarded the County attorney fees. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the 2007 and 2008 zoning amendments were practically identical. Both cases involved the same property owned by Martin in Camas County. Thus, the facts between this case and the underlying case "Martin I" (concerning the 2007 amendments) were nearly identical. . . . as such, Martin properly conceded that the district court's injunction against the 2007 zoning amendments should have been reversed. Martin also properly conceded that his award of attorney fees by the district court also should have been reversed. The County was not entitled to a fee award. View "Martin v. Smith" on Justia Law