United States District Court, D. Idaho
RAYMOND R. HAMELL and RACHELLE J. HAMELL, Plaintiffs,
IDAHO COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Idaho, KATHY ACKERMAN, Idaho County Clerk, JIM CHMELICK, Idaho County Commissioner, MARK FREI, Idaho County Commissioner, SKIP BRANDT, Idaho County Commissioner, JOHN AND JANE DOES 1 - 5, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
J. Lodge United States District Judge
before the Court in the above entitled matter are
Defendants' Motion for a Judgment on the Pleadings made
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) and
Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File an Amended
Complaint. (Dkt. 10, 15.) The Motions have been fully briefed
and are ripe for the Court's consideration. Having fully
reviewed the record herein, the Court finds that the facts
and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs
and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further
delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the
decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral
argument, the Motions shall be decided on the record before
this Court without oral argument.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Raymond R. Hamell and Rachelle J. Hamell, owned three pieces
of real property located in Idaho County, Idaho identified
as: Shingle Creek Property, Shaw Subdivision Lot 1, and Shaw
Subdivision Lot 2. (Dkt. 1.) Defendants acquired the three
properties through tax deeds from the Hamells and sold the
parcels via public auctions.Plaintiffs' allege the Notices
of Sale for each of the public auctions were deficient
because they failed to contain a description of the distance
or direction from the properties to the nearest city and/or
the properties' addresses as required by Idaho Code
§ 31-808. (Dkt. 1.) As a result, the Plaintiffs allege
the properties either sold for less than their assessed value
or did not sell thereby reducing, or eliminating,
Plaintiffs' redemption of any proceeds from the sales of
the properties in excess of the amounts owed.
have brought this action raising claims of Negligence per se
- Breach of Statutory Duty in violation of Idaho Code §
31-808; Deprivation of Plaintiffs' Property Interest
without Due Process in Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
and Deprivation of Plaintiffs' Property Interest without
Due Process in violation of Article, I, § 13 of the
Idaho State Constitution. (Dkt. 1.) Plaintiffs seek 1)
monetary damages comprised of the difference between the
assessed amount of the properties and the amount the
properties sold for and 2) injunctive relief against future
improperly advertised sales of other properties by way of an
order requiring Defendants to change their tax sale procedure
to properly advertise the location of tax deed properties.
(Dkt. 1.) Defendants filed a Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings seeking dismissal of all claims. (Dkt. 10.)
Plaintiffs have filed a Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint.
(Dkt. 15.) The Court finds as follows as to both Motions.
12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are
closedâbut early enough not to delay trialâa party may move
for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A
motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c)
challenges the legal sufficiency of the opposing party's
pleadings. See, e.g., Westlands Water Dist. v. Bureau of
Rec., 805 F.Supp. 1503, 1506 (E.D. Cal. 1992). A motion
for judgment on the pleadings should only be granted if
“the moving party clearly establishes on the face of
the pleadings that no material issue of fact remains to be
resolved and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner
& Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989).
Judgment on the pleadings is also proper when there is either
a “lack of cognizable legal theory” or the
“absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable
legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police
Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). In reviewing a
Rule 12(c) motion, “all factual allegations in the
complaint [must be accepted] as true and construe[d] ... in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party.”
Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir.
2009). Judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is
warranted “only if it is clear that no relief could be
granted under any set of facts that could be proved
consistent with the allegations.” Deveraturda v.
Globe Aviation Sec. Servs., 454 F.3d 1043, 1046 (9th
Cir. 2006) (internal citations omitted).
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings A.
Negligence Per Se - Breach of Statutory Duty in
violation of Idaho Code § 31-808
First Claim for Relief in the Complaint alleges Defendants
breached their statutory duty under Idaho Code § 31-808
which required Defendants to abide by the procedures set
forth therein when it sold the real property at issue in this
case. (Dkt. 1.) Defendants argue this claim is barred by the
economic loss rule and because Plaintiffs have failed to
assert a viable claim for negligence per se. (Dkt.
an exception applies, the economic loss rule prohibits
recovery of purely economic losses in a negligence action
because there is no duty to prevent economic loss to
another.” Path to Health, LLP v. Long, 383
P.3d 1220, 1226 (Idaho 2016) (quoting Blahd v. Richard B.
Smith, Inc., 108 P.3d 996, 1000 (Idaho 2005). The rule
applies to negligence cases in general and to products
liability cases. See Kayser v. McClary, 875
F.Supp.2d 1167, 1175-76 (D. Idaho 2012); Ramerth v.
Hart, 983 P.2d 848, 851 (Idaho 1999). “Economic
loss” includes costs of repair and replacement of
defective property which is the subject of the transaction,
as well as commercial loss of profits or use. Blahd,
108 P.3d at 1000. For purposes of the economic loss rule,
“transaction” does not mean a business deal;
rather, it means the subject of the litigation.
Blahd, 108 P.3d at 1000.
case, Plaintiffs argue the economic loss rule does not bar
their negligence per se claim because the source of
the duty alleged is Idaho Code § 31-808 and the damages
are recoverable in tort. (Dkt. 12 at 4-7.) The Court
economic loss rule applies to Plaintiffs' negligence
per se claim. There is no dispute that the damages
sought by Plaintiffs are purely economic. (Dkt. 12 at 4-7.)
Therefore, the rule applies to bar the claim unless an
exception to the rule applies. See Path to Health,
383 P.3d at 1226.
are two exceptions to the economic loss rule: the existence
of a special relationship between the parties and unique
circumstances requiring a reallocation of the risk.