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Westover v. Cundick

Supreme Court of Idaho

April 14, 2017

VAL D. WESTOVER and LAREE H. WESTOVER, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
JASE D. CUNDICK, in his individual capacity and in his official capacity as Franklin County Assessor, and JOHN DOES 1 and 2, Defendants-Respondents.

         2017 Opinion No. 33

         Appeal from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Franklin County. Hon. Mitchell W. Brown, District Judge.

         The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

          Atkin Law Offices, P.C., Clifton, for appellants. Blake S. Atkin argued.

          Naylor & Hales, P.C., Boise, for respondents. Tyler D. Williams argued.

          HORTON, Justice.

         Val and LaRee Westover appeal from the district court's judgment and denial of their request for writs of mandate and prohibition against Franklin County Assessor Jase Cundick. The dispute arose when the Westovers granted an easement to Rocky Mountain Power on property owned by the Westovers. Based on his office's records, Cundick sent a letter to Rocky Mountain Power stating that the Westovers did not own the property in question. The Westovers sought a writ of mandate to require Cundick to retract the letter and a writ of prohibition to prevent him from sending such letters in the future. The district court denied the Westovers' request for writs of mandate and prohibition after it concluded that there were other remedies available at law.

         On appeal, the Westovers assert that the district court erred by failing to grant injunctive relief prohibiting Cundick from sending out letters concerning real estate transactions and property ownership. Although the Westovers' complaint did not request that the district court grant injunctive relief, they assert that the district court erred because the Westovers were clearly entitled to injunctive relief under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c). We affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In November of 2007, the Westovers entered into a contract to purchase the family farm (Property) from Val's parents Don and Connie Westover. On November 27, 2007, the Westovers recorded a Memorandum of Real Estate Contract with the Franklin County Recorder's Office. The sales contract itself was not recorded and the records in the recorder's office continued to show that Don and Connie Westover were the owners of the Property. On February 25, 2008, two quitclaim deeds with respect to the same Property were recorded between Don and Connie Westover and Dexter and Linda Ralphs to adjust the acreage of their respective properties. The quitclaim deeds indicated that Don and Connie Westover remained the owners of the Property.

         On December 3, 2012, a warranty deed conveying the Property from Don Westover to the Don A. Westover Trust was recorded. Based on that warranty deed, the assessor's office updated its records to show the Don A. Westover Trust as the owner of the Property. On March 17, 2015, the Westovers conveyed an underground right of way easement on the Property to Rocky Mountain Power as part of a contract to receive power for their business. The easement was recorded on April 20, 2015. The Westovers then paid $37, 000 to install lines and equipment to receive electrical service.

         On May 14, 2015, a warranty deed dated November 17, 2007, conveying the Property from Don and Connie Westover to the Westovers was recorded. On May 29, 2015, Cundick sent a letter to the Westovers and Rocky Mountain Power informing them of his concern that "the property description included in [the April 20, 2015 Underground Right of Way Easement] is not owned by the Grantor . . . ." Cundick's office did not obtain information regarding the May 14, 2015, recorded deed until after he sent his letter.

         Rocky Mountain Power contacted the Westovers about the letter and informed them they would need to correct the problem within thirty days or it would turn off the Westovers' power and remove its equipment. After speaking with the Westovers, Rocky Mountain Power agreed not to take any action until the Westovers had addressed the problem. The Westovers contacted the assessor's office requesting that it retract the May 29 letter. Despite communication between the parties and eventual communication through the parties' attorneys, the dispute was not resolved. On June 8, 2015, a quitclaim deed conveying the Property from the Don A. Westover Family Trust to the Westovers was recorded. At that time, the assessor's office changed its records to reflect the Westovers as the owners of the Property

         On July 30, 2015, the Westovers filed their complaint against Cundick. The Westovers amended their complaint August 20, 2015, suing Cundick in his individual and official capacities and seeking writs of mandate and prohibition, damages for slander of ...


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