Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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This appeal arose from the district court’s decision to bar Steven Picatti’s 42 U.S.C. section 1983 claims against two deputies on the basis of collateral estoppel. In July 2014, Picatti struggled to drive home because road access was blocked for the Eagle Fun Days parade. After circumventing some orange barricades, Picatti drove toward two uniformed deputies who were on foot patrol by a crosswalk, which was marked with a large sign reading: “road closed to thru traffic.” The factual background from that point was heavily disputed. Picatti alleged Deputy Miner hit the hood of his car, then pulled Picatti out of his truck to tase and arrest him. The deputies contended Picatti “bumped” Deputy Miner with his truck and then resisted arrest, forcing them to tase him into submission. Picatti was ultimately arrested on two charges: resisting and obstructing officers and aggravated battery on law enforcement. At the end of his preliminary hearing, Picatti was bound over. Prior to trial, Picatti accepted a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace for “failing to obey a traffic sign and driving into a restricted pedestrian area.” The court entered a judgment of conviction, which was not appealed, overturned, or expunged. Two years later, Picatti brought a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against his arresting deputies, claiming deprivations of his protected rights to be free from (1) unreasonable seizure, (2) excessive force, and (3) felony arrest without probable cause. The district court granted summary judgment to the defending deputies holding that collateral estoppel barred Picatti from relitigating probable cause once it was determined at the preliminary hearing. Picatti timely appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the order granting summary judgment to the deputies as to Picatti’s claims of false arrest and unreasonable seizure; however, the Court vacated the summary judgment as to Picatti’s excessive force claim. The district court correctly applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel to Picatti’s claims of false arrest and unreasonable seizure, but not as to excessive force. In addition, the Court could not find as a matter of law that the deputies were entitled to qualified immunity on Picatti’s excessive force claim when there was a genuine issue of material fact. View "Picatti v. Miner" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a retaliation action under the Idaho Protection of Public Employees Act (the “Whistleblower Act”) and a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim against the Idaho State Police. Plaintiff Brandon Eller alleged the Idaho State Police (ISP) retaliated against him in two ways: (1) after he testified against another officer in a preliminary hearing; and (2) when he voiced objections to a new ISP policy requiring members of the Crash Reconstruction Unit to destroy draft and peer review reports. A jury awarded Eller $30,528.97 in economic damages under the Whistleblower Act and $1.5 million in non-economic damages for his negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. The district court then entered a memorandum decision and order reducing the award for Eller’s negligent infliction of emotional distress claim to $1,000,000 because Idaho Code section 6-926 capped the State’s liability for actions brought under the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA) at $500,000 per occurrence. Both Eller and ISP timely appealed on several grounds, and their appeals were consolidated. After its review, the Idaho Supreme Court held the district court incorrectly applied the ITCA to Eller’s claim because the Whistleblower Act supplanted it. The district court’s rulings that the Whistleblower Act bars non-economic damage awards and that the ITCA caps Eller’s damages were vacated, and the matter remanded for a partial new trial regarding non-economic damages solely under the Whistleblower Act. View "Eller v. Idaho State Police" on Justia Law

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An employee brought claims under provisions of the Idaho Human Rights Act, claiming: (1) the employer unlawfully discriminated against him based on race. He also alleged (2) breach of employment contract and the implied covenant of good faith. Furthermore, the employee (3) sought to disqualify the trial judge for cause based upon perceived bias. The district court denied the employee’s disqualification motion and granted summary judgment for the employer on all of the employee’s claims. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed judgment entered in favor of the employer. View "Mendez v. University Health Svcs BSU" on Justia Law

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In 1992, Todd Rich was indicted for felony rape, allegedly committed between November 1991 and January 1992; he pled guilty on August 19, 1992; and on October 23, 1992, the district court sentenced him to six years in the custody of the Idaho Board of Correction. The district court retained jurisdiction for 120 days, and ultimately suspended the remainder of Rich’s sentence and placed him on probation. Rich successfully completed his probation on or about March 2, 2004. The following day, Rich filed a motion asking the district court in his criminal case for relief pursuant to Idaho Code section 19-2604(2), which was granted. The district court reduced Rich’s charge to a misdemeanor. The order reducing the charge stated that “the Judgment is hereby deemed a misdemeanor conviction, thereby restoring [Rich] to his civil rights.” At some point, Rich moved to Pennsylvania. He apparently applied for permission to possess a firearm in Pennsylvania. His request was denied by an administrative law judge who ordered: “It appearing that under Idaho law, I.C. 18-310(2), final discharge for a conviction of rape does not restore the right to ship, transport, possess or receive a firearm, the determination of the Pennsylvania State Police that Todd Rich is prohibited under the Uniform Firearms Act, 18 Pa. C.S. 6101 et seq., is upheld.” Rich filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that he “may lawfully purchase, own, possess or have under his custody or control a firearm under the laws of the State of Idaho.” The State responded by contending that Rich had no standing to seek such relief. The district court dismissed the case on two alternative grounds: (1) Rich did not have standing because no real, substantial, and concrete controversy then existed; and (2) “Idaho Code 18-310(3) provides the mechanism for the restoration of civil rights is through application to the commission of pardons and parole, not through the District Court.” The district court entered a judgment dismissing this action with prejudice. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Rich v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from the termination of Jeffry Black, the former Executive Director of the Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST). Black asserted that the Idaho State Police (ISP) violated two provisions of the Idaho Protection of Public Employees Act ("the "Whistleblower Act") when it terminated him. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of ISP, holding that Black failed to engage in activity protected under the Act. Black appealed the district court's decision to the Supreme Court. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Black v. Idaho State Police" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Wade Frogley appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondents Meridian Joint School District No. 2, Aaron Maybon, and Linda Clark, on Frogley's complaint of retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Idaho Human Rights Act. Plaintiff also appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondents on his claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff's claims stemmed from his work as an Assistant Principal at Mountain View High School within the Meridian School District. He alleged that within weeks of his hire, he was subject to continuous sexual harassment at the school from the principal and other assistant principals. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded genuine issues of material facts existed with regard to both of Plaintiff's claims. As a result, the Supreme Court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Frogley v. Meridian Joint School Dist 2" on Justia Law

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Appellant Lillian Hatheway appealed a district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Board of Regents of the University of Idaho and the University of Idaho. Appellant worked for the University as an administrative assistant for nine years before she resigned. She sued for age discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, constructive discharge and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court correctly dismissed all of Appellant's claims. View "Hatheway v. Bd of Regents - UI" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Supreme Court in this case was appeal and cross-appeal of summary judgments dismissing claims against Defendants Ada County, Deputy Jeremy Wroblewski, Kate Pape, and James Johnson in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 civil rights action brought by Rita Hoagland on behalf of herself and the estate of her deceased son, Bradley Munroe ("Munroe"), claiming a violation of a Fourteenth Amendment right to medical care and safety while Munroe was detained at Ada County Jail where he committed suicide. Munroe had a history of incarceration at Ada County Jail ("ACJ"). During the evening of September 28, 2008, Munroe was arrested and charged with the armed robbery of a convenience store. Munroe was intoxicated and uncooperative. During booking, Munroe was screaming and being rowdy. Munroe took a string and wrapped it around his neck. Because of his bizarre behavior throughout the night, Munroe was placed in a holding cell for observation until he was sober. The next morning booking continued. At that time, Munroe requested protective custody. Munroe was placed in a cell by himself and a well-being check was scheduled to occur every thirty minutes. Later that evening during a well-being check, the performing deputy found Munroe hanging from his top bunk by a bed sheet. Munroe was pronounced dead later that evening. Among the issues on appeal were: whether the decedent's estate could assert a 42 U.S.C 1983 action for alleged violations of the decedent's constitutional rights; whether the parent had standing to assert a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action for the death of her adult child while incarcerated; and whether the district court erred in awarding costs to Defendants. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the district court: (1) was affirmed in dismissing Hoagland's 1983 claim on behalf of Munroe's estate; (2) was reversed in finding that Hoagland had a 1983 cause of action for violations of her own constitutional rights; (3) was partially affirmed in its award of costs as a matter of right; (4) was reversed in its award of discretionary costs; and (5) was affirmed in denying attorney fees. The case was remanded for the reconsideration and entry of express findings regarding the district court's award of discretionary costs. View "Hoagland v. Ada County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Victoria Johnson appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of North Idaho College (NIC) on her claim of discrimination under the Idaho Human Rights Act (IHRA). Plaintiff alleged one of her instructors sexually harassed her, and that NIC was vicariously liable for that harassment. The district court held that NIC's affirmative defense was factually support, and that she failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Upon review of the facts of this case, the Supreme Court concluded that the district court did not err in finding that no genuine issue of material fact existed in regard to Plaintiff's claims. Accordingly the Court affirmed the opinion of the district court.

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Former engineering professor Plaintiff Habib Sadid appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of his former employer Defendant Idaho State University which dismissed his retaliation claim. Plaintiff alleged the University retaliated against him because of his comments criticizing the administration that had been published in a local newspaper over several years and that the University had breached his employment contract. Upon review careful review of the issues Plaintiff raised in his appellate brief, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the amended complaint. The Court vacated the denial of attorney fees to the University and remanded this case for consideration of its request for attorney fees in defending against the breach of employment contract claim.