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Gallagher v. Best Western Cottontree Inn

Supreme Court of Idaho

January 19, 2017

GERALYN GALLAGHER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
BEST WESTERN COTTONTREE INN, SNAKE RIVER PETERSEN PROPERTIES, LLC, a Wyoming Close Limited Liability, and DOES 1 through 10 inclusively, Defendants-Respondents.

         2017 Opinion No. 1

         Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Hon. Alan C. Stephens, District Judge.

         The judgment dismissing the complaint is vacated and the case is remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

          Browning Law, Idaho Falls, for appellant. Alan Browning argued.

          Moore & Elia, LLP, Boise, for respondent. Steven R. Kraft argued.

          HORTON, Justice.

         This is an appeal from the district court's order granting summary judgment and dismissing Geralyn Gallagher's (Gallagher) lawsuit against the Best Western Cottontree Inn (the Hotel) and Snake River Peterson Properties LLC (Snake River). The district court held that the amended complaint did not relate back to the date of the original filing and that the statute of limitations was not tolled by Snake River's failure to file a certificate of assumed business name. We vacate and remand.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Gallagher was injured when she fell on a wet floor at the Hotel on July 10, 2012. There is only one Best Western Cottontree Inn in Idaho. The Hotel was owned and operated at that time by Snake River. In preparing to file this suit, Gallagher searched the Secretary of State's database to determine who owned the Hotel. According to the database, the Hotel was owned by L & L Legacy Limited Partnership (L & L) and the certificate of assumed business name was current. Snake River acquired the Hotel before Gallagher's injury but failed to file a certificate of assumed business name with the Secretary of State's office.

         On July 9, 2014, Gallagher filed this suit. After filing the complaint, Gallagher attempted to serve Scott Eskelson, who was authorized to accept service on behalf of L & L. The record does not show when Gallagher attempted to serve Eskelson. Mr. Eskelson refused to accept service and informed Gallagher that the Hotel had been sold to Snake River and that Snake River owned the Hotel at the time Gallagher was injured. Gallagher filed a motion to extend the time for service on January 8, 2015. The motion was granted on January 14, 2015. On April 9, 2015, an amended complaint and summons was served on Snake River. Gallagher and Snake River filed a stipulation to dismiss L & L. On June 4, 2015, L & L was dismissed from the case with prejudice.

         Snake River filed a motion for summary judgment in which it argued that it had not been timely joined in the case and that the amended complaint should not relate back to the time the first complaint was filed. Following a hearing, the district court granted Snake River's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. Gallagher filed a motion to reconsider, which the district court denied. Gallagher timely appealed.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "When reviewing an order for summary judgment, the standard of review for this Court is the same standard used by the district court in ruling on the motion." Winn v. Campbell, 145 Idaho 727, 729, 184 P.3d 852, 854 (2008) (citing Watson v. Weick, 141 Idaho 500, 504, 112 P.3d 788, 792 (2005)). Summary judgment is proper when, "the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." I.R.C.P. 56(c). "If there is no genuine issue of material fact, 'only a question of law remains, over which this Court exercises free review.'" Winn, 141 Idaho at 729, 184 P.3d at 854 (quoting Watson, 141 Idaho at 504, 112 P.3d at 792).

         III. ...


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