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Tiegs v. Robertson

July 9, 2010

BRUCE TIEGS, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS CO- PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF KENNETH TIEGS; STEVEN TIEGS AND SUSAN HUTER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS CO-PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ESTATE OF KENNETH TIEGS, AND K.P. INC., AN IDAHO CORPORATION, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
DARRELL L. ROBERTSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND DUSTIN M. KUKLA, DEFENDANT.
KENNETH TIEGS AND SONS, INC., AS SUBROGEE OF UNIGARD INSURANCE, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DARRELL L. ROBERTSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND DUSTIN M. KUKLA, DEFENDANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District, State of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. Gordon W. Petrie, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gutierrez, Judge

2010 Opinion No. 46

Orders denying motion for summary judgment and granting motion for new trial, affirmed.

Darrell L. Robertson appeals from the district court's denial of his motion for summary judgment and grant of Bruce Tiegs' motion for a new trial. We affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

In July 2003, Robertson allowed Dustin M. Kukla to borrow a tractor and hay baler to complete a job baling straw for which Kukla had been hired by another party. Robertson was aware that the rear lights on the baler were not operational. Before loaning Kukla the equipment for free, Robertson had him demonstrate that he could operate it properly by completing a portion of Robertson's own field. During daylight hours, Kukla removed the equipment from Robertson's property, with Robertson following behind using his pickup truck as a pilot vehicle. However, on July 30, Kukla drove the tractor and baler on Highway 45 at approximately 10:30 p.m.--without rear lights--in order to effect a repair of the baler at another location. A vehicle being driven by Kenneth Tiegs collided into the back of the baler and as a result, Tiegs was killed.

Several of Tiegs' family members, acting individually and as personal representatives of Tiegs' estate, as well as the corporation who owned the vehicle Tiegs was operating at the time of the collision, brought suit against Kukla and Robertson for negligence, negligent entrustment, negligence per se,*fn1 and imputed liability. Kukla failed to respond to the complaint and a default judgment was entered against him.

Robertson filed a motion for summary judgment which the district court denied. After the first trial ended in a mistrial, Robertson filed a "Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment" and the district court again denied the summary judgment motion. A second jury trial commenced and at its conclusion the jury rendered a special verdict, finding that Robertson was only negligent in loaning the equipment to Kukla, but that this negligence was not a proximate cause of Tiegs' death and injuries, that Kukla was negligent and his negligence was a proximate cause of Tiegs' death and injuries, and that Tiegs had been negligent in operating his vehicle, but his negligence was not a proximate cause of his death. Despite these findings, the jury apportioned "fault" as 15% to Robertson, 80% to Kukla, and 5% to Tiegs and awarded each of the three plaintiffs damages of $2,500 each.

Tiegs filed a motion for a new trial arguing that the answers to the special interrogatories were inconsistent with each other and with the special verdict and thus against the law. After oral argument, the district court granted the motion on the ground that the answers to the special interrogatories and verdict were irreconcilably inconsistent. Robertson now appeals the denial of his motion for summary judgment and the court's grant of Tiegs' motion for a new trial.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Denial of Summary Judgment

Robertson contends that the district court erred in denying his motion for summary judgment on three grounds: (1) because Idaho Code § 49-2417(1) cannot be read to apply to implements of husbandry; (2) that Robertson did not knowingly permit Kukla to operate the vehicle at night with non-operating rear lights in violation of I.C. §§ 49-902, -903, and -916; and (3) there was insufficient evidence to establish the elements of negligent entrustment. In response, Tiegs argues that the denial of a motion for summary judgment is not an appealable order. In the alternative, Tiegs contends that the district court did not err in denying the motion on the merits. We first address Tiegs' argument that the denial of Robertson's summary judgment motion is not subject to appellate review.

It is well settled in Idaho that an order denying a motion for summary judgment is not an appealable order itself, nor is it reviewable on appeal from a final judgment. Garcia v. Windley, 144 Idaho 539, 542, 164 P.3d 819, 822 (2007); Hunter v. Dep't of Corrs., Div. of Prob. & Parole, 138 Idaho 44, 47, 57 P.3d 755, 757 (2002). In Idaho Power Co. v. Cogeneration Inc., 134 Idaho 738, 743, 9 P.3d 1204, 1209 (2000), the Idaho Supreme Court explained:

Cogeneration asks this Court to determine whether the district court erroneously deniedits motion for partial summary judgment. However, an order denying a motion for summary judgment is not a final order and a direct appeal cannot be taken from it. Moreover, an order denying a motion for summary judgment is not to be reviewed on appeal from a final judgment. See Bowles v. Pro Indiviso, Inc., 132 Idaho 371, 376, 973 P.2d 142, 147 (1999); Watson v. Idaho Falls Consol. Hospitals, 111 Idaho 44, 46, 720 P.2d 632, 634 (1986); Evans v. Jensen, 103 Idaho 937, 941, 655 P.2d 454, 458 (Ct. App. 1982). The final judgment in a case ...


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