Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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The humans in the events giving rise to this lawsuit were related by blood or marriage: Stephen Boswell was married to Karena Boswell; Karena is Mary Steele’s daughter; Amber was Mary Steele’s granddaughter and owned a Scottish terrier named Zoey. Amber and Zoey lived in Mary’s home. Stephen and Karena Boswell appealed a judgment entered in favor of Amber Steele and the Estate of Mary Steele. The Boswells sought to recover damages for injuries suffered by Stephen after he was bitten by Zoey. Before the case was submitted to the jury, the district court ruled that all of the Boswells’ claims sounded in negligence and so instructed the jury, rejecting the Boswells’ proposed jury instructions on common law and statutory strict liability. The jury found that the Steeles were not negligent and the district court entered judgment consistent with that verdict. The Idaho Supreme Court found that the Boswells were entitled to have the jury instructed on theories other than negligence. The instructions given by the trial court did not accurately convey the elements of a common law dog bite case in Idaho, nor did they contemplate a cause of action arising from the Pocatello Municipal Code. As such, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "Boswell v. Steele" on Justia Law

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Animal Control Officer Laurie Deus responded to a report of a vicious dog. When she arrived on scene, a black and white pit bull, later identified as “Bo,” aggressively charged anyone who got near him. Bo was declared aggressive, and later dangerous. Mark and Robyn Munkhoffs’ son Sam Munkhoff (“Sam”) was Bo’s owner, and Bo was kept on the Munkoff’s property. Months later, Officer Deus received a report of a dog bite that occurred near the Munkhoffs’ home. The owner of the dog was identified as Sam. Sam was cited for having an animal running at large, an animal attacking, biting or chasing, and Bo was declared dangerous. The responding animal control officer cited Mark too, whose dog Dexter was also running at large. Mark told the officer that “Sam is absolutely not allowed to move back in nor is he allowed to bring Bo back even for a visit.” Officers tried to locate Sam and Bo; Mark told officers on the phone that “if that dog shows up [I] will shoot it.” Bo bit the Munkoffs’ neighbor, Klaus Kummerling. The Kummerlings filed a complaint, alleging claims for negligence, gross negligence, outrage, and nuisance against the City of Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Ron Clark, the Munkhoffs, and Sam. The Kummerlings did not allege in their complaint that the Munkhoffs were vicariously liable for Sam’s conduct. The district court dismissed the claims against the City and Chief Clark. The Munkhoffs filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted as to all claims except the claim for negligence. Sam, who represented himself, did not join in the Munkhoffs’ summary judgment motion. This case was tried to a jury, and the jury returned a special verdict, finding that the Munkhoffs and their son Sam were negligent, negligent per se, and that their negligence was the actual and proximate cause of Kummerling’s injuries. The jury allocated fault and calculated damages. Kummerling was awarded $16,603.00 in economic damages and $185,000.00 in non-economic damages. The Munkhoffs moved for a new trial pursuant to Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A), (F), and (G), for remittitur pursuant to Idaho Code section 6-807 and Rule 59.1, and for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3). The district court denied the motions, and a judgment was entered on November 7, 2016. On December 14, 2016, the Munkhoffs timely appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error in the trial court’s decision and affirmed. View "Litke v. Munkhoff" on Justia Law