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Stafford v. Morfitt

April 7, 2010

FRANKLIN D. STAFFORD, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES C. MORFITT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Defendants Randolph Farber's and Owyhee Village Inc.'s (collectively "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 103). These Defendants are the last remaining defendants in this case. As explained in detail below, the Court dismisses all of Plaintiff's claims as to Defendants Farber and Owyhee Village Inc. Specifically, the Court holds that all of Plaintiff's claims against Defendants are barred by the statute of limitation.

BACKGROUND

I. State-Court Proceedings

This litigation arises from an irrigation right-of-way and boundary-line dispute between two neighbors and the state-government process surrounding those disputes. In state court on March 20, 1998, now-Defendant Max Weaver sued his neighbor, now-Plaintiff Franklin Stafford Sr., for trespassing on his property. Mr. Stafford had erected a fence and excavated a ditch, which Mr. Weaver argued were located on Mr. Weaver's property. In the same litigation, Mr. Weaver also sued Defendant Owyhee Village, Inc. Owyhee Village, Inc. filed a cross-claim against Mr. Stafford, alleging that Mr. Stafford had slandered Owyhee Village, Inc.'s title by asserting an interest in Mr. Weaver's property.

The state-court judge, James C. Morfitt, former Defendant in this case, entered a judgment against Mr. Stafford, finding that Mr. Stafford had trespassed on Mr. Weaver's property. Judge Morfitt also awarded Mr. Weaver punitive damages. Regarding Defendant Owyhee Village, Inc., Judge Morfitt found that Mr. Stafford had slandered the title of Owyhee Village, Inc. and awarded attorney's fees and costs to Owyhee Village, Inc. The Idaho Supreme Court upheld Judge Morfitt's decision in July 2000 and held that the southeast boundary of Mr. Stafford's property, which separates Mr. Stafford's and Mr. Weaver's properties, should be determined by metes and bounds.

After Mr. Weaver filed the initial state-court action, but before Judge Morfitt had rendered a decision, Mr. Stafford filed a separate action against Mr. Weaver. In that action, Mr. Stafford sought to establish that a lane and fence were on Mr. Stafford's side of the disputed boundary. The state-court judge, former Defendant Dennis E. Goff, granted summary judgment to Mr. Weaver and determined that the boundary had been established by agreement of the parties. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed this decision in May 17, 2001.

At some point during these proceedings, Mr. Weaver was charged with a misdemeanor for blocking an irrigation outlet that allowed water to flow to Mr. Stafford's property. The charges were dismissed on two conditions. First, Mr. Weaver had to remove the concrete barrier that blocked the irrigation outlet. Second, Mr. Weaver had to install a pipe from the irrigation outlet to the edge of Mr. Stafford's property. Mr. Weaver complied with these conditions. Mr. Stafford did not, however, excavate a ditch to the pipe on Mr. Weaver's property.

Mr. Stafford also claims that in November 1997, Defendant Canyon County Prosecutor David Young refused to prosecute Mr. Weaver and other defendants for allegedly assaulting Mr. Stafford and damaging Mr. Stafford's property.

Subsequent to these events, Mr. Stafford filed his second action in state court, this time filing against Defendants Mr. Weaver, Louis Uranga, and Randolph Farber. Louis Uranga had represented Mr. Weaver in the previous proceedings, and Randolph Farber had represented Owyhee Village, Inc. In relevant part, Mr. Stafford alleged that Mr. Farber attempted to extort money from Mr. Stafford. A state-court judge, Gerald Weston, dismissed the action. In March 2003, the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.

In 2003 and 2004, Mr. Weaver filed separate motions in state court for renewal of his earlier judgments against Mr. Stafford. Judge Morfitt eventually granted both motions and denied Mr. Stafford's motions to reconsider the renewals of judgment. In May 2006, the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Morfitt's decisions.

Defendant Lawrence Sirhall, Mr. Stafford's attorney in the state-court actions, filed a collection action for attorney's fees against Mr. Stafford in July 2002. The state-court judge, again Judge Morfitt, granted Mr. Sirhall's request to foreclose on Mr. Stafford's real property in order to collect attorney's fees. In June 2006, the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Morfitt's decision and rejected Mr. Stafford's claim of judicial bias.

Although not relevant to the current motion to dismiss, Mr. Stafford also filed judicial misconduct complaints against Judge Morfitt and Judge Sergio A. Gutierrez. The Idaho Judicial Council found that no judicial misconduct had occurred. Currently, Mr. Stafford also claims that Judge Goff, by participating in an unlawful ex parte communication, and Magistrate Judge Kotyk, ...


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