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Bagley v. Thomason

October 7, 2010

JOHN BAGLEY, AN INDIVIDUAL, AND TERRANCE BAGLEY, AN INDIVIDUAL, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
BYRON T. THOMASON AND MARILYNN THOMASON, HUSBAND AND WIFE DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, AND LIBERTY PARK IRRIGATION COMPANY, AN IDAHO CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for Madison County. The Hon. Darren B. Simpson, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eismann, Chief Justice.

2010 Opinion No. 108

The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

This is an appeal from a judgment awarding plaintiffs shares of water in an irrigation company. We affirm the judgment.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

John Bagley and Terrance Bagley purchased a farm from Byron T. Thomason and Marilynn Thomason and executed a contract giving Thomasons an opportunity to repurchase the property. They were permitted to retain possession of the farm until the expiration of the time within which they could repurchase it. After that time expired, a dispute arose regarding the ownership of the property. Bagleys filed a lawsuit for quiet title and obtained a judgment quieting their title in the land. The judgment also provided that Bagleys owned the water rights appurtenant to the land. Thomasons appealed, and we affirmed the judgment in Bagley v. Thomason, No. 36041-2009 (October 6, 2010) (Bagley I).

The Liberty Park Irrigation Company provided irrigation water to the real property. Bagleys requested that the Irrigation Company issue them new certificates for the shares of water appurtenant to the land. The Company's policy required the owner give written consent to a transfer of the shares, and Thomasons refused to consent. They also threatened to sue the Company if it issued new certificates to Bagleys. The Company therefore refused to issue certificates transferring to Bagleys the 52 shares of water appurtenant to the land they had purchased from Thomasons. On January 30, 2009, Bagleys filed this action against Thomasons and the Irrigation Company seeking a judgment requiring the Company to issue them the water shares.

Bagleys filed a motion for summary judgment. Thomasons responded by filing a document asserting that Bagleys lacked standing and the court therefore lacked jurisdiction. They also informed the court that they would not attend the hearing. The district court granted Bagleys' motion and entered a judgment decreeing that Bagleys were the owners of 52 shares of water in the Irrigation District. Bagleys requested an award of attorney fees, and the court granted that request under Idaho Code § 12-121, finding that Thomasons had defended this lawsuit frivolously, unreasonably, and without foundation. Bagleys did not request costs as a matter of right, and the court denied their request for discretionary costs. Thomasons timely appealed.

II. ISSUES ON APPEAL

A. Did the district court have subject matter jurisdiction?

B. Did the district court err in awarding Bagleys attorney fees under Idaho Code § 12-121?

C. Are Bagleys entitled to an award of attorney fees on appeal.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Did the District Court Have Subject Matter ...


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