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Krinitt v. Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Supreme Court of Idaho

July 11, 2017

PERRY KRINITT, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME and STATE OF IDAHO, Defendants-Respondents. PERRY KRINITT, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME and STATE OF IDAHO, Defendants-Appellants.

         2017 Opinion No. 84

         Appeal from the District Court of the Second Judicial District, State of Idaho, Lewis County. Hon. Gregory Fitzmaurice, District Judge.

         District court order granting summary judgment, affirmed.

          Carpenter Law Firm, Missoula, MT, for appellant. Charles H. Carpenter argued.

          Johnson Law Group, Spokane, WA, for respondents. Peter J. Johnson argued.

          BURDICK, Chief Justice.

         Perry Krinitt, Sr. (Krinitt) appeals the Lewis County district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the State of Idaho and the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). The district court ruled that IDFG was a statutory employer under the Idaho Worker's Compensation Act and, consequently, IDFG was entitled to immunity from actions based on the work-related death of Perry Krinitt, Jr. (Perry). We affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Perry, a pilot for Leading Edge Aviation, died when the helicopter he was piloting crashed on August 31, 2010, in Kamiah, Idaho. Krinitt v. Idaho Dep't of Fish and Game, 159 Idaho 125, 126, 357 P.3d 850, 851 (2015). Perry was flying IDFG employees Larry Bennett and Danielle Schiff to conduct a fish survey on the Selway River. Id. Bennett and Schiff died in the crash as well. Id. at 127, 357 P.3d at 852. An investigation revealed that the accident was caused when a clipboard struck the tail rotor. Id. Evidence was that one of the passengers became sick and opened the helicopter door, dropping the clipboard in the process. Id.

         On August 30, 2012, Krinitt filed a wrongful death suit based in negligence seeking damages against IDFG for Perry's death. On October 22, 2012, IDFG filed its answer. In its answer, IDFG did not assert statutory immunity under Idaho's Worker's Compensation Act as a defense. Thereafter, the district court entered a scheduling order dated February 14, 2013, which stated: "Dispositive motions shall be filed by January 31, 2014." IDFG filed a motion for summary judgment on January 31, 2014. In support of its motion, IDFG did not raise the issue of statutory immunity; rather, IDFG moved for summary judgment on the basis that Krinitt could not prove negligence. The district court granted the motion and Krinitt appealed.

         On appeal, this Court determined that a reasonable jury could conclude that the accident was the result of IDFG's negligence and reversed and remanded the case to district court. Krinitt, 159 Idaho at 127-31, 357 P.3d at 852-56. Following remand, the district court ordered the parties to mediation. On March 21, 2016, after a failed mediation attempt, and after the date set for the filing of dispositive motions, IDFG filed another motion for summary judgment on the basis of statutory immunity.

         Krinitt opposed the motion, arguing: (1) IDFG was not Perry's statutory employer and therefore did not qualify for statutory immunity; and (2) even if IDFG was Perry's statutory employer, IDFG had waived its statutory immunity defense by failing to timely plead it. After a hearing, the district court granted IDFG's motion for summary judgment, ruling that IDFG did not waive its right to assert statutory immunity as a defense, and, as a statutory employer, IDFG was immune from suit under Idaho's Worker's Compensation Act. However, under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 16(i), [1] the district court also imposed sanctions on IDFG for filing its March 21, 2016, summary judgment motion after the January 31, 2014, deadline for filing dispositive motions set in the scheduling order. Krinitt timely appeals the grant of summary judgment in favor of IDFG. IDFG appeals the district court's imposition of sanctions.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "This Court's review of a trial court's ruling on a motion for summary judgment is the same standard used by the trial court in originally ruling on the motion." Robison v. Bateman-Hall, Inc., 139 Idaho 207, 209, 76 P.3d 951, 953 (2003) (citations omitted). The Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure state that summary judgment shall be rendered 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 a judgment as a matter of law." I.R.C.P. 56(c).[2] "If the evidence reveals no disputed issues of material ...


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