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Kenneth J. Good and Jennifer Jill v. Larry W. Sichelstiel and Melanie K. Sichelstiel

August 1, 2012

KENNETH J. GOOD AND JENNIFER JILL GOOD, HUSBAND AND WIFE, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
LARRY W. SICHELSTIEL AND MELANIE K. SICHELSTIEL, HUSBAND AND WIFE, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. John T. Mitchell, District Judge.

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

2012 Unpublished Opinion No. 570

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED OPINION AND SHALL NOT BE CITED AS AUTHORITY

Judgment awarding damages, costs, and attorney fees, affirmed.

Larry W. Sichelstiel and Melanie K. Sichelstiel appeal from the district court's judgment awarding damages, costs, and attorney fees. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Kenneth J. Good and Jennifer Jill Good purchased property adjacent to the property where the Sichelstiels reside. The Goods' warranty deed contains a provision that allows them to enter onto their property via an access road that crosses the Sichelstiels' property. Larry Sichelstiel erected a gate across the access road and a dispute arose over the property boundaries. The Goods obtained a judgment against the Sichelstiels in September 2008, enjoining the Sichelstiels from harassing, blocking, restricting, hindering, obstructing, and threatening the Goods and their guests and invitees and successors from in any way using, maintaining, repairing, and improving the access road for ingress and egress purposes. The Sichelstiels were enjoined from installing or maintaining any form of a gate or barrier to vehicular or pedestrian traffic on or across any portion of the access road. The Sichelstiels were enjoined from coming within one hundred feet of the Goods or any of their guests or invitees while on the access road. The Sichelstiels were permanently enjoined from trespassing upon the Goods' property. The Sichelstiels were ordered to remove any gates, hardware associated with gates, all motor vehicles, trailers, and any other personal property or other obstruction on the access road. A metes and bounds description of the Goods' property and the Sichelstiels' property and a drawing depicting the property boundaries were referenced in and attached to the judgment as exhibits.

After the Sichelstiels failed to comply with the judgment, the Goods obtained an order enforcing the judgment on June 23, 2009. In March 2010, the Goods filed a complaint against the Sichelstiels alleging that, on June 26, 2009, and repeatedly through July 1, Larry intentionally and willfully trespassed upon the Goods' property. The Goods alleged that Larry cut down and removed twenty-nine trees while engaged in this trespass. Pursuant to I.C. § 6-202, the Goods asserted that they were entitled to recover damages from the Sichelstiels that were treble the damages assessed by the district court as a consequence of Larry's intentional and willful trespass and the cutting down and removal of the trees. The Goods also asserted that they were entitled to recover costs and attorney fees. After a hearing in June 2011, the district court determined that Larry willfully and intentionally trespassed upon the property of the Goods and cut down trees in violation of I.C. § 6-202. The district court entered a judgment awarding damages, costs, and attorney fees. The Sichelstiels appeal.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When we consider an appeal from a district court sitting as the fact-finder, we do so through our abuse-of-discretion lens; that is, we examine whether the trial court: (1) rightly perceived the issues as ones of discretion; (2) acted within the boundaries of that discretion and appropriately applied the legal principles to the facts found; and (3) reached its decision through an exercise of reason. Weitz v. Green, 148 Idaho 851, 857, 230 P.3d 743, 749 (2010); Sun Valley Shopping Ctr., Inc. v. Idaho Power Co., 119 Idaho 87, 94, 803 P.2d 993, 1000 (1991). In conducting our review, we liberally construe the district court's findings in favor of the judgment. Ervin Constr. Co. v. Van Orden, 125 Idaho 695, 699, 874 P.2d 506, 510 (1993). We will not disturb a district court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous. Weitz, 148 Idaho at 857, 230 P.3d at 749. A district court's findings of fact are not clearly erroneous if they are supported by substantial and competent evidence. I.R.C.P. 52(a); Sun Valley Shamrock Res., Inc. v. Travelers Leasing Corp., 118 Idaho 116, 118, 794 P.2d 1389, 1391 (1990); Murgoitio v. Murgoitio, 111 Idaho 573, 576, 726 P.2d 685, 688 (1986). Questions of credibility and the weight of the evidence are matters uniquely within the province of the district ...


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