Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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Medical Recovery Services, LLC (“MRS”), appealed a district court decision that affirmed a magistrate court’s dismissal of an MRS complaint. MRS alleged a right to collect on a debt from Yvonne Ugaki-Hicks, who did not respond to the complaint. MRS filed a complaint against Ugaki-Hicks to recover $1,416.63 alleged to be due for medical services provided by SEI Anesthesia. MRS alleged that it was the assignee of the bill. MRS filed an application for entry of default and default judgment. The magistrate court denied the request. MRS appealed to the district court which determined default should have been entered but affirmed the magistrate court’s denial of entry of default judgment. MRS appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. MRS contended the failure of Ugaki-Hicks to appear and the affidavit of counsel provided an uncontradicted record of the debt assigned to MRS. However, MRS failed to include Exhibit A, the alleged proof of debt or the assignment thereof. MRS stated it did not know why Exhibit A was not included in the record, but that it did not matter because there was no original instrument or written contract between SEI Anesthesia and Ugaki-Hicks. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in requiring MRS to provide evidence of the assignment of claim. “m. Whether Exhibit A would have met the standard could not be determined by either the district court or this Court. This Court is left to presume missing evidence supports the lower courts’ findings.” The district court decision was thus affirmed. View "Medical Recovery Svc v. Ugaki-Hicks" on Justia Law

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This case centers on efforts to collect payment for medical services. Medical Recovery Services, LLC (“MRS”), appealed a district court decision affirming rulings of the magistrate court in favor of the patient, Jared Neumeier. Neumeier’s doctor’s billing agent assigned the delinquent account to MRS for collection. Neumeier did not receive any attempted communications from his doctor’s office or MRS, nor did he receive any other form of demand for payment related to the delinquent account. Neumeier saw his doctor for other unrelated medical services, which resulted in a separate bills that were submitted to insurance for payment. MRS eventually sent a letter addressed to Neumeier at his correct address. The one-page letter was attached to MRS’s complaint and was the only communication to Neumeier from either his doctor or MRS. The letter listed Neumeier’s contact information, the amount owed (exclusive of interest), the name of the creditor (MRS), and paraphrased recitations of the required inclusions under the Fair Debt Collections Act. The undated notice letter did not identify the doctor or connect the debt with a particular bill or treatment. Without a response from Neumeier, MRS requested its legal counsel to file an action to recover the debt. Neumeier visited his doctor under the belief that the notice letter was a fraud or scam. During this visit, the office discovered that it had never submitted the bill to Neumeier’s insurer; however, the office also informed Neumeier that the account had already been assigned to MRS for collection. On the same date, MRS filed a complaint against Neumeier, seeking a total award of $1,891.37, including $958.63 for the principal amount, $282.39 in statutory prejudgment interest, and attorney’s fees and costs. The next day, Neumeier contacted MRS and was informed that he was “too late.” Neumeier was subsequently served with a complaint and summons. The bill subject to the collection action was eventually submitted to insurance, and all but a $42 co-payment was paid. The doctor’s office waived the co-payment. Once the account was satisfied, MRS refused to drop its suit, claiming it was still owed pre-judgment interest. A magistrate found MRS was not owed interest, and dismissed the case. The Idaho Supreme Court found no error in that judgment, and affirmed the magistrate’s decisions. View "Medical Recovery Svc v. Neumeier" on Justia Law

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Justin Vigos appealed a district court’s decision to reverse a magistrate court’s order granting his motion for summary judgment against MFG Financial, Inc. (MFG). MFG initiated this action to recover damages from a breach of contract. In 2007, Vigos purchased a vehicle from Karl Malone Toyota. The contract was assigned to Courtesy Auto Credit (Courtesy). After some time, Vigos defaulted on the contract and the vehicle was repossessed and sold at auction. Courtesy then allegedly assigned the contract to MFG who initiated this action in 2015. After discovery, the parties each filed a motion for summary judgment. The magistrate court granted Vigos’s motion for summary judgment, finding that MFG had not presented sufficient admissible evidence to show that it was a real party in interest. MFG appealed and the district court reversed the decision of the magistrate court. Vigos appealed, arguing that the district court applied the wrong standard when it failed to first determine if evidence was admissible before considering it for purposes of summary judgment. MFG cross appealed, arguing that the district court erred when it failed to award it attorney fees on appeal. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "MFG Financial Inc. v. Vigos" on Justia Law

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After review of the documents and affidavits proffered in support of Plaintiff Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC’s (“PRA”) position, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded they did not contain adequate foundation and were not admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule. PRA sued Defendant Lloyd MacDonald for an amount owed on a Citibank credit card account. MacDonald filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that PRA did not have standing to bring this action because it could not prove that the debt had been assigned by Citibank to PRA. MacDonald objected to the evidence PRA submitted to support its position, arguing that the evidence was inadmissible hearsay and lacked adequate foundation. The magistrate court overruled MacDonald’s objections and granted summary judgment in favor of PRA. MacDonald appealed to the district court. The district court affirmed the magistrate court’s decision. The Supreme Court found that even the catch-all exception to the hearsay rule could not be used to admit some of the documents. The decision to grant summary judgment in favor of PRA was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Portfolio Recovery Assoc v. MacDonald" on Justia Law

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The district court erred in affirming the magistrate’s decision that Medical Recovery Services, LLC (MRS) was estopped from requesting attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-120(5). MRS attempted a garnishment of Penny Siler’s wages, which was returned unsatisfied because Siler, a school bus driver who cared for her disabled husband and made an average of $499.00 a month, did not earn enough to garnish. MRS agreed to accept $10.00 per month for payment on a default judgment entered after Siler failed to pay a medical bill. Siler went to MRS’s counsel’s office and was told the payoff amount was $1,224.88. She paid that amount in cash. Six days later, counsel for MRS filed an application for supplemental attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-120(5). Following the hearing, the magistrate court issued an order denying MRS’s application for supplemental attorney fees. In its order, the magistrate court, sua sponte, found that MRS was barred by quasi and equitable estoppel from asking for attorney fees because MRS had told Siler the “payoff amount” was $1,224.88, and MRS did not inform Siler it planned to pursue additional postjudgment fees. MRS appealed the magistrate’s decision to the district court. The district court affirmed, finding “the Magistrate Court retains discretion as to whether, or what amount of, attorney fees will be awarded,” and therefore was free to consider any factor it deemed appropriate, including quasi or equitable estoppel, in determining the amount of attorney fees. View "Medical Recovery Svcs v. Siler" on Justia Law

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H. Peter Doble II appealed a district court’s order awarding Interstate Amusements, Inc. (Interstate) attorney fees. Interstate owned and operated a number of movie theaters throughout Magic Valley. As part of its business, Interstate marketed and sold vouchers known as “Cinema Cash:” vouchers purchased in $1.00 increments and could be redeemed for movie tickets and concessions sold at Interstate’s various theater locations. Each voucher was clearly marked with an expiration date after which the voucher was no longer redeemable. Doble attempted to redeem an expired Cinema Cash voucher at one of Interstate’s movie theaters in Twin Falls. Doble filed a Complaint against Interstate in which he alleged that the issuance of Cinema Cash violated Idaho’s Consumer Protection Act (ICPA). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Interstate. With regard to fees, the court found that Doble brought his action “frivolously, unreasonably, and without foundation” and awarded Interstate attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-121. The district court then entered an amended judgment stating: “The defendant, Interstate Amusement, Inc., shall recover from the plaintiff costs in the amount of $320.44 and attorney’s fees in the amount of $7,972.50, for a total of $8,292.94.” Finding no reversible error in the district court's fee award, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Doble v. Interstate Amusements, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lorene Lowe had two credit cards issued by Citibank, N.A. Citibank sold both credit card accounts to Pilot Receivables Management, LLC, and in late 2012, it assigned the accounts for collection to Unifund CCR, LLC. On December 2, 2013, Unifund filed this action to collect on Account No. 2085, and on May 23, 2014, it filed an amended complaint to add a claim to collect on Account No. 0415. Lowe filed an answer asserting the affirmative defense of the statute of limitations and four counterclaims. Both parties moved for summary judgment, with the primary issue being the applicable statute of limitations. Unifund contended that the applicable statute of limitations was a five-year statute applicable to an action on a written contract, and Lowe contended that the applicable statute of limitations was a four-year statute applicable to an action on an oral contract. Both parties agreed that the statute of limitations began to run on each account on the date of the last payment. The district court ruled that the five-year statute of limitations applied. Lowe then agreed to withdraw her counterclaims in exchange for an offset of $500 against the amount of any judgment obtained by Unifund. The district court entered a judgment against her in the sum of $35,259.87, which included the principal, prejudgment interest, court costs and attorney fees. Lowe then timely appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Unifund CCR, LLC v. Lowe" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Tanner Mickelsen appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondent Broadway Ford, Inc. on his complaint that alleged fraud in the inducement. Petitioner asked for a rescission of the contract between the parties based on that alleged fraud or alternatively on mutual mistake. Petitioner leased a truck from Broadway Ford. The truck had over 1400 miles on it, but was sold as new and under factory warranty. The truck had been modified with a six-inch suspension lift and four oversized tires. Though he purchased the truck in Idaho Falls, Petitioner resided in Moses Lake, and took the truck to his local dealership for repairs. In the first year of the lease, Discovery Ford made several repairs to the vehicle under the warranty. But when Petitioner took the truck back to Discovery Ford for "handling problems," the service manager advised Petitioner that these repairs would not be covered by the warranty because of the lift modifications made to the truck's suspension. Broadway Ford told Petitioner that they would try to resolve the issue if Petitioner drove or shipped the truck to Idaho Falls. Petitioner did not take the truck back to Idaho Falls or ship it there. He eventually stopped making lease payments and voluntarily surrendered the truck to the bank who provided the financing. Finding that the district court made no error in granting summary judgment in favor of Broadway Ford, the Court affirmed that court's decision. View "Mickelsen v. Broadway Ford, Inc." on Justia Law

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Security Financial Fund, LLC, ("Security Financial") extended to Byron and Marilynn Thomason ("the Thomasons") a series of loans evidenced by five promissory notes, which were secured by three deeds of trust and two mortgages on real property. As a result of the Thomasons' non-payment on two prornissory notes secured by the mortgages, Security Financial foreclosed on those notes. While the foreclosure was still pending, the Thomasons filed a separate action against Security Financial and others, addressing all the promissory notes executed in favor of Security Financial by the Thomasons. That action sought recovery for breach of contract and fraud, among other theories. Both actions were consolidated. On appeal from the district court's decision to grant Security Financial's Motion for Summary Judgment with regard to the claims that the Thomasons asserted in their fraud case, the Thomasons contended, among other things, that the district court lacked subject matter and personal jurisdiction to foreclose on the secured property and abused its discretion. The Supreme Court concluded that all of the Thomasons' claims were waived or frivolous, and accordingly affirmed the Final Judgment in favor of Security Financial. View "Security Financial Fund v. Thomason" on Justia Law

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In April and June of 2008, Best of the Best Auto Sales, Inc. purchased seven vehicles from Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho and Brasher's Idaho Auto Auction with checks that were returned for insufficient funds. As a result, Dealers and Brasher refused to provide Best of the Best with the titles to the vehicles. Best of the Best then sold the vehicles to Idaho consumers without providing them with titles. Dealers and Brasher filed claims with CNA Surety d/b/a Western Surety Company which acted as a surety for a "$20,000 Vehicle/Vessel Dealer Bond." Best of the Best was the principal. Upon Best of the Best's failure to provide evidence or defenses for Dealers' and Brasher's claims, Western Surety alleged that it lawfully settled those claims in good faith upon the condition that the consumers received their titles, even though they were not based on final judgments. Plaintiff Nick Hestead submitted his claim, which was based on a final judgment. Plaintiff's claim involved fraud and fraudulent representation concerning a separate vehicle that he purchased from Best of the Best that was previously branded a lemon in California. Western Surety responded by asserting that the Dealer Bond was exhausted. Plaintiff contended that the plain meaning of I.C. 49-1610(4) provides that his claim should be given priority because it was submitted thirty days after a final judgment was entered, unlike Dealers' and Brasher's claims. Western Surety asserted that the plain meaning of I.C. 41-1839(3) permits sureties to settle Dealer Bond claims in good faith. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the payments on the surety bond were lawfully made in good faith pursuant to I.C. 49-1610(1) and I.C. 41-1839(3) because Dealers' and Brasher's claims were undisputed and supported by competent evidence. View "Hestead v. CNA Supply dba Western Surety Co." on Justia Law