Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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In 2016, the Economic Advisory Council (“the EAC”), a body created under authority of Idaho Code section 67-4704, granted a tax credit of $6.5 million to Paylocity, an Illinois corporation. Employers' Resource Management ("Employers") complaint alleged that this tax credit was a governmental subsidy to Paylocity that would give it a competitive advantage over Employers. Employers challenged the Idaho Reimbursement Incentive Act ("IRIA") program as unconstitutional, alleging that the Legislature unconstitutionally delegated its authority over tax matters to the Executive Branch. The district court dismissed Employers' complaint for declaratory relief for lack of standing. The district court’s rejection of Employers’ claim of competitor standing was, in part, based upon its view that “even when competitor standing has been recognized, ‘it is only when a successful challenge will set up an absolute bar to competition, not merely an additional hurdle, that competitor standing exists.’ ” The Idaho Supreme Court was not persuaded that view was an accurate statement of the law of competitor standing, and vacated the district court's judgment.The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Employers Resuorce Mgmt Co v. Ronk" on Justia Law

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Kenneth and Donna Johnson appealed a district court judgment recognizing a tribal judgment from the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Court (Tribal Court). The Johnsons owned land within the Coeur d’Alene Reservation (Reservation) on the banks of the St. Joe River and had a dock and pilings on the river. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe (Tribe) initiated an action in Tribal Court to enforce a tribal statute which required a permit for docks on the St. Joe River within the Reservation. The Johnsons did not appear and a default judgment was entered against them. The judgment imposed a civil penalty of $17,400 and declared that the Tribe was entitled to remove the dock and pilings. On January 2016, the Tribe filed a petition to have the Tribal Court judgment recognized in Idaho pursuant to the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. I.C. sections 10-1301, et seq. The district court held the Tribal Judgment was valid and enforceable, entitled to full faith and credit. However, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court was incorrect in holding the Tribal Judgment was entitled to full faith and credit, and the civil penalty was not entitled to recognition in Idaho courts. However, the Idaho Supreme Court held the Tribal Court had jurisdiction over the Johnsons and the subject matter of this case; the Johnsons did not meet their burden of establishing the Tribal Court did not have jurisdiction, and the Johnsons were afforded due process in Tribal Court. In this case the judgment comprised two parts: (1) the civil penalty of $17,400; and (2) the declaration that the Tribe had the right to remove the offending encroachment. The civil penalty was not enforceable under principles of comity. However, the penal law rule does not prevent courts from recognizing declaratory judgments of foreign courts. Therefore, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court’s judgment to the extent that it recognized the Tribal Court’s judgment imposing the civil penalty of $17,400. The Court affirmed the judgment recognizing the Tribal Court judgment regarding the Tribe’s right to remove the dock and pilings. View "Coeur d' Alene Tribe v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Manwaring Investments, L.C., owner of a commercial building in the City of Blackfoot, appealed a district court order granting summary judgment to the City. Manwaring sued the City in October 2014, alleging the City was overcharging it for wastewater utilities ​and stopped paying the disputed portion of fees. Manwaring’s complaint alleged that the assessment of two Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDUs) on the Building: (1) violated the Idaho Revenue Bond Act; (2) constituted an unconstitutional tax; and (3) violated due process. In addition to requesting a declaratory judgment and an injunction, Manwaring requested damages in the amount of $1,803.66, which reflected the amount Manwaring allegedly overpaid for wastewater utilities. The magistrate granted the City’s motion for summary judgment. Manwaring moved for reconsideration, which the magistrate denied. Manwaring then appealed the magistrate’s rulings to the district court, which affirmed the magistrate. Manwaring timely appeals the decision of the district court. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Manwaring Investments, L.C. v. City of Blackfoot" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was a judgment dismissing an action seeking to recover money unlawfully collected by the City of Pocatello from users of the City’s water and sewer systems. In 2005, the city government decided that the City should be able to operate its water and sewer systems at a profit like private utilities. By law, the City was required to charge and collect sufficient fees so that its water and sewer systems “shall be and always remain self-supporting.” Those fees had to be sufficient to pay when due all bonds and interest as required by Idaho Code section 50-1032(a) and “to provide for all expenses of operation and maintenance of such works . . . , including reserves therefor,” as required by Idaho Code section 50-1032(b). The City wanted to obtain a profit in excess of the amounts necessary for the water and sewer systems to remain self-supporting. This profit was paid into the general fund. The City instituted a program called "PILOT," which stood for payment in lieu of taxes, under which city-owned water and sewer departments paid "property taxes" to the City as if they were private entities, and the departments then passed this cost on to their customers. The “property taxes” were then paid into the City’s general fund. Plaintiffs sought a refund of the PILOT sums that they had paid. In granting summary judgment, the district court held that the imposition of the PILOT was not a compensable taking. The district court appeared to rely upon two grounds for that decision: (1) "Some courts have made that determination on the grounds that money is not 'property' within the meaning of the Takings Clause," and (2) "Other courts ‘have concluded that governmental-imposed obligations to pay money are not the sort of governmental actions subject to a takings analysis.?” The Idaho Supreme Court determined both of these rationales were incorrect, reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hill-Vu Mobile Home Pk v. City of Pocatello" on Justia Law

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House Bill No. 67 passed the Idaho State House on February 2, 2017, and it was transmitted to the Senate. The bill was amended twice in the Senate, and it passed the Senate, as amended, on March 22, 2017, and was returned to the House. As amended by the Senate, the bill passed the House on March 27, 2017. The bill exempted from the state sales tax the sale of food, as defined in the bill, sold for human consumption. The Governor vetoed the bill and delivered it to the Secretary of State on April 11, 2017. Because of the veto, the Secretary of State thereafter refused to certify House Bill No. 67 as law. This case was brought in the Idaho Supreme Court’s original action seeking a writ of mandamus compelling the Secretary of State to certify 2017 House Bill No. 67 as law because the Governor did not veto the bill and return it to the Secretary of State within ten days (excluding Sundays) after the legislature adjourned. The Supreme Court overruled Cenarrusa v. Andrus, 582 P.2d 1082 (1978), but held that all parties were misconstruing Article IV, section 10, of the Idaho Constitution, and denied the writ of mandate. View "Nate v. Denney" on Justia Law

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Sovereign immunity is inapplicable when constitutional violations are alleged. Appellants brought a class action suit against the State, alleging Idaho’s public defense system was inadequate under federal and state constitutional standards. The district court reasoned that Appellants’ claims were not justiciable on standing, ripeness, and separation of powers grounds and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court found that appellants' claims were justiciable on standing and ripeness, not separation of powers. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of Appellants’ complaint as to the State of Idaho and the PDC, but affirmed dismissal as to Governor Otter. The Court remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Tucker, et al v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in dismissing the State Defendants under the Constitutionally Based Educational Claims Act (“CBECA”). This appeal arose from Russell Joki’s action challenging the constitutionality of: (1) fees charged to students of Meridian Joint District #21 ; and (2) the statewide system of funding Idaho’s public schools. Joki and sixteen other individuals (collectively referred to as “Joki”) initiated the suit against the State, the Idaho Legislature, the Idaho State Board of Education, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction (collectively referred to as the “State Defendants”), all 114 Idaho public school districts, and one charter school. The district court granted the State Defendants’ motion to dismiss. Joki argued the CBECA did not apply here, but the Supreme Court disagreed, finding: (1) the CBECA was constitutional, “it is not unreasonable for the legislature to also declare that allegations that the required educational services are not being furnished should first be addressed to the local school districts which have been given the responsibility and authority to provide those services;” and (2) Joki’s claims relating to the fees levied by the school districts fell squarely within the definition of a constitutionally based educational claim because the legislature’s duty was to provide free common schools. View "Joki v. Idaho Bd of Education" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Barry Searcy was an inmate in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC). In 2011, he filed a civil complaint naming as defendants the Idaho State Board of Correction, IDOC, and various individual defendants in their official capacities (collectively “the Board”). Searcy’s complaint alleged that the Board illegally charged inmates fees for: (1) commissary goods; (2) telephone calls; (3) photocopying; (4) medical service co-pays; and (5) hobby supplies. The Legislature had not provided express statutory authorization for any of these fees at the time that Searcy brought this action. Instead, the fees were imposed based upon IDOC policy or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The Board moved for summary judgment in all claims, and the district court ultimately granted the Board's motion. Searcy appealed, and his claims “solely challenging the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Count I” (alleging that raising revenue through the disputed fees exceeded the Board’s rulemaking authority under Idaho Code section 20-212 and caused a wrongful forfeiture of property in violation of Idaho Code section 18-314) were heard by the Court of Appeals. In a split decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed. Searcy petitioned for review, which the Supreme Court granted. After review, the Court determined that the fees at issue here were not unconstitutional fees. As such, it affirmed the Court of Appeals' judgment. View "Searcy v. Idaho Bd of Correction" on Justia Law

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Senor Iguana's, Inc. appealed the cancellation of its liquor license. The district court found that Iguana's failed to pay the license renewal fee before the end of a grace period, so the license expired by operation of law. Iguana's argued on appeal that the license constituted a property right and that because the Alcohol Beverage Control bureau failed to provide notice and a hearing before cancelling the license, Iguana’s was denied its constitutional and statutory rights. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Senor Iguana's v. ISP - ABC" on Justia Law

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This was an appeal of a district court order affirming in part an order issued by the Director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources (“IDWR”). In response to a delivery call filed by Rangen, Inc., the Director had issued an order curtailing certain junior-priority ground water pumping in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (“ESPA”). The order provided that the junior-priority ground water users could avoid curtailment by participating in an approved mitigation plan. The Idaho Ground Water Appropriators, Inc. (“IGWA”) filed several mitigation plans for approval. The Director issued an order conditionally approving IGWA’s Fourth Mitigation Plan, which proposed leasing water from another surface water right holder and piping the water to the Rangen facility. Rangen petitioned for review. The district court upheld the Director’s order in significant part. Rangen appealed. Finding no reversible error with the district court's order, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Rangen, Inc. v. Dept of Water Resources" on Justia Law