CNW, LLC, an Idaho limited liability company, Plaintiff-Appellant,
NEW SWEDEN IRRIGATION DISTRICT, an irrigation district, Defendant-Respondent, and CITY OF IDAHO FALLS, a municipal corporation, and DOE DEFENDANTS 1 THROUGH 6, Defendants.
Opinion No. 126
from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Hon. Joel E. Tingey,
judgment dismissing this action is vacated and the case is
& Wood and Racine Olson Nye Budge & Bailey,
Chartered, Idaho Falls, for appellant.
Angell Starnes, LLP, Idaho Falls, for respondent.
BRIEFS HORTON, Justice.
an appeal from the district court's order granting
summary judgment and dismissing CNW LLC's (CNW) lawsuit
against New Sweden Irrigation District (NSID). The district
court held that CNW had failed to comply with the notice
requirements of Idaho Code section 6-906. We vacate the
judgment dismissing this action and remand.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
owns an office building in the Taylor's Crossing business
subdivision in Idaho Falls. In mid-June of 2012, a sinkhole
developed under the parking lot of CNW's building. It was
later determined that the sinkhole was caused by water from
Porter Canal infiltrating an abandoned sewer line and eroding
the soil under the parking lot. Porter Canal is owned and
operated by NSID. The abandoned sewer line is owned by the
City of Idaho Falls (City).
18, 2012, CNW's attorney contacted NSID's president,
Lou Thiel, to discuss the sinkhole. Mr. Thiel informed
CNW's attorney that he should contact Jerry Rigby,
NSID's attorney, regarding the sinkhole. From July to
October 2012, CNW and NSID communicated about the sinkhole
exclusively through Mr. Rigby. On October 18, 2012, CNW sent
a notice of tort claim to NSID which was addressed to
"New Sweden Irrigation District c/o Jerry R. Rigby"
and mailed to Mr. Rigby's office in Rexburg.
receiving the notice, Mr. Rigby forwarded it to NSID's
secretary, DeLillian Reed. When she received the notice, Ms.
Reed forwarded the claim to NSID's insurance carrier. Ms.
Reed also sent a letter to CNW. This letter confirmed that
Ms. Reed had received the notice that CNW sent to Mr. Rigby
and informed CNW that Mr. Rigby did not represent NSID in
connection with the matter. Ms. Reed requested that future
communications be directed to NSID. Ms. Reed informed CNW
that, if it wished to file a notice of tort claim, it would
need to fill out an additional form and return it to NSID.
The letter included a form for CNW to complete and return.
CNW ceased communicating with Mr. Rigby but did not return
the form to Ms. Reed.
time, NSID denied responsibility for the sinkhole. On October
30, 2012, CNW served the City with a notice of tort claim. On
December 5, 2012, NSID admitted that it had worked on the
Porter Canal in the spring of 2012. Prior to this date, NSID
had repeatedly denied performing any work on the canal.
filed this lawsuit against NSID and the City on December 19,
2012. On January 25, 2013, CNW served NSID with an amended
notice of tort claim. NSID moved for summary judgment on
September 29, 2014.
December 31, 2014, the district court granted NSID's
motion for summary judgment. The district court found that
CNW's letter of October 18, 2012, was not sufficient to
satisfy the requirements of the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA).
The district court also found that the 180 day ...