MEDICAL RECOVERY SERVICES, LLC, an Idaho limited liability company, Plaintiff-Appellant,
PENNY R. SILER, Defendant-Respondent.
Opinion No. 36
from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District,
State of Idaho, Jefferson County. Hon. Robert L. Crowley,
Jr., Magistrate Judge. Hon. Alan C. Stephens, District Judge.
court order affirming magistrate's denial of attorney
fees, reversed and remanded.
Driscoll & Associates, PLLC, Idaho Falls, for appellant.
Bryan Zollinger argued.
Thomsen Holman Wheiler, PLLC, Idaho Falls, for respondent.
Ryan S. Dustin argued.
BURDICK, CHIEF JUSTICE.
Recovery Services, LLC (MRS) appeals the Jefferson County
district court's order affirming the magistrate
court's ruling denying MRS's application for an award
of postjudgment attorney fees under Idaho Code section
12-120(5). We reverse and remand.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
R. Siler visited Mountain View Hospital and incurred a bill
of $518.80. Siler was unable to pay the bill, and Mountain
View Hospital assigned the debt to MRS for collection. In
November 2013, MRS sued Siler for recovery of the debt. Siler
was served with the summons on November 18, 2013. On
Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013, MRS filed an application
for entry of default judgment. On December 30, 2013, the
court entered a default judgment in favor of MRS in the
amount of $1, 170.93, which included attorney fees in the
amount of $350.00.
the default judgment, MRS attempted a garnishment of
Siler's wages, which was returned unsatisfied because
Siler, a school bus driver who cares for her disabled husband
and makes an average of $499.00 a month, did not earn enough
to garnish. Thereafter, MRS obtained an order for examination
of debtor from the court, and counsel for MRS met with Siler
on May 2, 2014. Based on Siler's circumstances, MRS
agreed to accept $10.00 per month for payment on her
paid $10.00 per month until March 2015. On March 6, 2015,
Siler contacted counsel for MRS and "asked what the
payoff would be." Siler was told the payoff amount was
$1, 224.88. Siler then went to MRS's counsel's office
and, after again being told the payoff amount was $1, 224.88,
paid that amount in cash. Six days later, counsel for MRS
filed an application for supplemental attorney fees under
Idaho Code section 12-120(5). Counsel supported the
application with an affidavit and time entries. The
supplemental fees totaled $843.00, which included $114.00 for
the "receipt and processing" of Siler's twelve
did not file an objection to the request for supplemental
attorney fees but did attend the hearing. Following the
hearing, the magistrate court issued an order denying
MRS's application for supplemental attorney fees. In its
order, the magistrate court, sua sponte, found that MRS was
barred by quasi and equitable estoppel from asking for
attorney fees because MRS had told Siler the "payoff
amount" was $1, 224.88, and MRS did not inform Siler it
planned to pursue additional postjudgment fees. MRS appealed
the magistrate's decision to the district court.
district court affirmed, finding "the Magistrate Court
retains discretion as to whether, or what amount of, attorney
fees will be awarded, " and therefore was free to
consider any factor it deemed appropriate, including quasi or