Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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In 2007 and 2008, AgStar Financial Services (AgStar), now Compeer Financial FLCA (Compeer), loaned substantial sums of money to Northwest Sand and Gravel, Inc., Gordon Paving Company, Inc., and Blackrock Land Holdings, LLC (collectively, "Gordon Paving.") As a result of financing these loans, AgStar became a secured creditor of Gordon Paving. In 2012, Gordon Paving defaulted on its $10 million obligation to AgStar, which then resulted in AgStar obtaining a judgment of foreclosure on various parcels of real property Gordon Paving owned. The district court also entered an order allowing the sale of virtually all of Gordon Paving’s business equipment to further satisfy the debt. Gordon Paving appealed the district court’s decision which allowed AgStar to sell the business equipment. In "AgStar I," the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order allowing AgStar to liquidate Gordon Paving’s business equipment, but this decision came long after the business equipment had already been sold at auction. On remand, the district court determined that the correct remedy for Gordon Paving was an award of restitution in the amount of the gross proceeds of the sale plus interest from the date of the sale based on its interpretation of Idaho Code section 28-22-104. Compeer appealed the district court’s order denying it an offset for expenses its predecessor, AgStar, incurred in liquidating Gordon Paving’s business equipment. Compeer also appealed the district court’s order awarding Gordon Paving prejudgment interest on the restitution award from the date the collateral was sold. After review, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order denying Compeer an offset for the auctioneer’s expenses incurred which were never received by AgStar. The Court affirmed the district court’s order awarding Gordon Paving prejudgment interest; however, the district court’s decision allowing prejudgment interest to run from the date of the sale was vacated. View "Agstar Financial Services v. Northwest Sand & Gravel" on Justia Law

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Choice Feed, Inc. sued Ray and Susan Montierth, alleging that Ray breached an oral agreement to sell his feedlot property to Choice Feed once he arranged a 1031 tax deferred agreement. Although Ray collected money from Choice Feed that was to go toward the purchase of the feedlot property, he never arranged the 1031 exchange. Instead, without notice to Choice Feed, Ray sold the feedlot property to someone else while continuing to accept monthly payments from Choice Feed. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found in favor of Choice Feed on one count of fraud against Ray, awarded compensatory damages, and assessed $250,000 in punitive damages. Ray moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which the district court granted in part, thereby reducing the jury’s awards of both the compensatory and punitive damages. Ray appealed the jury’s verdict, including the compensatory and punitive damages that were reduced by the district court. Choice Feed cross-appealed the district court’s decision granting Ray’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and the resulting reduction in damages. After its review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court on all issues raised in Ray’s direct appeal: (1) to deny Ray’s motion to dismiss for Choice Feed’s failure to plead fraud with particularity; (2) to give jury instructions that conformed with the evidence presented at trial; (3) to allow Choice Feed to seek improvement expenses as damages at trial; (4) to allow the jury to consider punitive damages; and, (5) to consider punitive damages in its prevailing party analysis and its conclusion that Choice Feed was the prevailing party. The Supreme Court also rejected Ray’s argument that Choice Feed did not have standing to bring suit or that it was not the real party in interest and the Court declined to add a tenth element of a transfer or sale of property to common law fraud. On Choice Feed’s cross-appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision to grant Ray’s JNOV motion and reduce the compensatory damage and punitive damage awards as raised in Choice Feed’s cross-appeal. However, the Court affirmed the district court on Choice Feed’s remaining issue raised in its cross-appeal concerning the award of prejudgment interest to Ray on his open account hay claim. Costs and attorney fees are awarded to Choice Feed as the overall prevailing party on appeal. View "Choice Feed Inc. v. Montierth" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a dispute over the ownership of Treasure Valley Manufacturing & Recycling, Inc., (“TVM”). Daniel Weitz appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of David Weitz and John Tavares and declaring them the exclusive owners of TVM. The district court granted summary judgment after determining that Daniel Weitz failed to produce any evidence demonstrating a genuine dispute of material fact and that they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgement. View "Weitz v. Weitz" 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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Victor Bliss appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the Minidoka Irrigation District (“MID”). Bliss filed a complaint against MID in April 2017, alleging: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of fiduciary duty; (3) trespass; (4) declaratory relief; and (5) wrongful prosecution/infliction of extreme emotional distress. The complaint encompassed multiple events stemming from his decades-long relationship with MID. The district court granted MID’s motion for summary judgment on all claims, dismissing Bliss’s complaint for lack of notice under the Idaho Tort Claims Act, lack of standing, and failure to produce evidence. Bliss timely appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment. View "Bliss v. Minidoka Irrigation District" 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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This appeal arose from a contractual dispute between the Christopher W. James Trust (“the Trust”) and Idaho Mineral Springs, LLC, a water bottling company owned by Helmut Tacke. In 2000, Tacke built Idaho Mineral Springs’ bottling facility on approximately 10 acres of a 374 acre parcel he owned in Lemhi County, Idaho. He installed a high-density polyester pipeline running about eight-tenths of a mile from a spring on the property to the water-bottling plant. From 2000 to 2013, Tacke sold little to no bottled water. By March 2013, Tacke owed on two promissory notes secured by mortgages on the property. That same year, Tacke’s machinery malfunctioned and he needed to obtain new equipment. Tacke negotiated an agreement with Christopher James (“James”), who, with his wife, Debra, were trustees of the Trust and the Firstfruits Foundation (“Firstfruits”), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation. The Agreement called for Firstfruits to pay off the outstanding loans on the property. In exchange, Tacke transferred title to 364 acres of the property, retaining the 10 acres of land where Idaho Mineral Springs’ operations were conducted. The Agreement further provided that the Trust would loan Idaho Mineral Springs $500,000 for two years with a 5% interest rate. Because James expected that the U.S. dollar would depreciate against the Australian dollar and precious metals, the Agreement called for the loan to be repaid in specified quantities of gold, silver and Australian dollars (“the commodity basket”). The Agreement also called for quarterly interest payments of 1.25% based upon the value of the commodity basket. Firstfruits entered into a joint venture with another nonprofit, Youth Employment Program, which sought to develop and manage the 364 acres. A conflict arose between the parties over Tacke’s waterline: Adams removed Tacke’s mainline and replaced it with a new PVC system. Adams reduced the flow to Idaho Mineral Springs from 91 gallons per minute (a discharge rate that Adams believed “could collapse the mainline”) to 30 gallons per minute. Tacke claimed that the new water system prohibited a direct flow of water from the spring to his plant and operated at a dramatically lower pressure than Tacke needed for Idaho Mineral Springs’ operations. Tacke appealed the district court’s ultimate judgment in favor of the Trust for $653,793.40. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that the awards of contract damages and prejudgment interest had to be vacated because the Trust failed to prove the value of the commodity basket. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Christopher W. James Trust v. Tacke" on Justia Law

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This case involved a dispute over the return of earnest money following termination of an agreement to purchase a storage facility between River Range, LLC, (River Range), the buyer, and Citadel Storage, LLC, (Citadel), the seller. Following River Range’s termination of the agreement, River Range demanded the return of its earnest money. Citadel refused, arguing that the deadline for the return of the earnest money had passed. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Citadel. River Range appealed, arguing that the district court erred in holding that: (1) the agreement was unambiguous and an addendum eliminated River Range’s right to have the earnest money refunded after a certain date; (2) River Range waived its right to terminate the agreement when it did not exercise the right to terminate the agreement by the due diligence deadline; and (3) Citadel did not breach the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "River Range v. Citadel Storage" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal before the Idaho Supreme Court was the doctrine of successor liability and its applicability to a business known as “Fatty’s Bar” (“Fatty’s”). Tons of Fun, LLC opened Fatty’s in October 2010 and a short time later its manager, Clay Roman, signed a textile services agreement with Alsco, Inc. The Agreement contained an automatic renewal clause, by which the Agreement would renew automatically for a period of 60 months if neither party terminated it in writing at least 90 days before its initial expiration. Fatty’s fell on difficult financial times, and closed for a period in January 2013. Soon after, Steven and Jennifer Masonheimer created a limited liability company called Fatty’s Bar, LLC, and re-opened Fatty’s in mid-February, 2013, continuing to receive textiles from Alsco. The Agreement automatically renewed in March 2016. In March 2017, Fatty’s Bar, LLC terminated the Agreement, well before the 60-month term was set to expire. Alsco then sued Fatty’s Bar, LLC and Clay Roman, seeking damages based on a liquidated damages provision in the Agreement. After a court trial, the district court held that both Fatty’s Bar, LLC and Roman, were jointly and severally liable to Alsco for damages under a liquidated damages clause that was also in the Agreement. Fatty’s Bar, LLC appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Alsco v. Fatty's Bar" on Justia Law

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Jeff Good and Harry’s Dairy entered into a contract providing that Harry’s Dairy would purchase 3,000 tons of Good’s hay. Harry’s Dairy paid for and hauled approximately 1,000 tons of hay over a period of approximately eight weeks, but did not always pay for the hay before hauling it and at one point went several weeks without hauling hay. After Harry’s Dairy went a month without hauling additional hay, Good demanded that Harry’s Dairy begin paying for and hauling the remaining hay. Harry’s Dairy responded that it had encountered mold in some of the hay, but would be willing to pay for and haul non-moldy hay at the contract price. Good then sold the remaining hay for a substantially lower price than he would have received under the contract and filed a complaint against Harry’s Dairy alleging breach of contract. Harry’s Dairy counterclaimed for violation of implied and express warranties and breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Good on all claims, and a jury ultimately awarded Good $144,000 in damages. Harry’s Dairy appealed, arguing that there were several genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment, that the jury verdict was not supported by substantial and competent evidence, and that the district court erred in awarding attorney fees, costs, and prejudgment interest to Good. Finding only that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the implied warranty of merchantability counterclaim, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed as to that issue, affirmed as to all others, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Good v. Harry's Dairy" on Justia Law