ERIC R. CLARK, and CLARK & ASSOCIATES, PLLC, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
JONES GLEDHILL FUHRMAN GOURLEY, P.A., an Idaho Professional Association; WILLIAM FUHRMAN, individually, and as an agent of Jones Gledhill Fuhrman Gourley, P.A.; and CHRISTOPHER GRAHAM, individually, and as an agent of Jones Gledhill Fuhrman and Gourley, P.A., Defendants-Respondents.
Opinion No. 137
from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District,
State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Samuel A. Hoagland, District
court order dismissing case and awarding attorney fees,
& Associates, Eagle, for appellants. Eric R. Clark
Anderson, Schwartzman, Woodard, Brailsford, PLLC, Boise, for
respondents. Amanda K. Brailsford argued.
BURDICK, Chief Justice.
appeal from the Ada County district court concerns attorney
liens under Idaho Code section 3-205. In March 2016, Eric R.
Clark and Clark and Associates, PLLC (collectively, Clark)
sued the law firm of Jones Gledhill Fuhrman Gourley, P.A.,
and two individuals associated with that firm-William Fuhrman
and Christopher Graham (collectively, Jones Gledhill). Clark
alleged that Jones Gledhill, as Clark's former opposing
counsel, was liable for failing to protect his attorney lien.
Jones Gledhill moved to dismiss Clark's amended complaint
(complaint) under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and
the district court granted the motion. In addition to
dismissing Clark's complaint, the district court sealed
several documents containing correspondence with and
information about Clark's former clients, denied
Clark's motion to amend, and awarded attorney fees under
Idaho Code section 12-121 to Jones Gledhill. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
genesis of this appeal is Forbush v. Sagecrest Multi
Family Property Owners' Association, Inc., 162 Idaho
317, 396 P.3d 1199 (2017), a tort case that was recently
before this Court in which a water heater emitted hazardous
levels of carbon monoxide, killing one and seriously injuring
another. In Forbush, Clark initially represented the
plaintiffs (Forbush plaintiffs), and Jones Gledhill
represented two of the defendants, Anfinson Plumbing and
Daniel Bakken (Forbush defendants). As his
co-counsel, Clark enlisted the Spence Law Firm (Spence), but
after approximately three years, irreconcilable differences
came to plague Clark and Spence's relationship, and Clark
withdrawing, in September 2015, Clark sent a letter to Jones
Gledhill, which stated that he was "asserting an
attorney lien according to I.C. § 3-205, which attaches
to any settlement or verdict. Please include [Clark's]
name on any settlement checks payable to the
[Forbush] plaintiffs or any other payments related
to a verdict or judgment."
settlement between the Forbush defendants and the
Forbush plaintiffs was reached in January 2016, at
which time the Forbush defendants wrote a settlement
check to the Forbush plaintiffs. Without informing
Clark of the settlement, Jones Gledhill forwarded the
settlement check to Spence. When Clark learned of the
settlement and contacted Jones Gledhill, the enforceability
of Clark's claimed lien became disputed. Clark then filed
a complaint against Jones Gledhill in March 2016, alleging
Jones Gledhill had "breached [its] duty to protect
Clark's lien . . . ." Prior to filing this lawsuit,
Clark had also filed lawsuits against Spence and the
Forbush plaintiffs with claims arising from their
alleged failures to protect Clark's lien.
Gledhill moved to dismiss Clark's complaint under Idaho
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Clark responded by filing a
brief, declaration, and several exhibits revealing
information about and correspondence with the
Forbush plaintiffs, his former clients. Jones
Gledhill moved to strike this information and correspondence.
Moreover, the Forbush plaintiffs intervened and
moved for the information and correspondence to be sealed as
confidential client information. The district court granted
Jones Gledhill's motions to strike and to dismiss. It
further granted the Forbush plaintiffs' motion
to seal. Thereafter, Clark filed a motion to amend his
complaint, but the district court denied the motion. Finally,
the district court granted Jones Gledhill's request for
attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-121, finding that
Clark had pursued the case frivolously, unreasonably, and
without foundation. Clark timely appeals.
ISSUES ON APPEAL
the district court properly grant Jones Gledhill's motion
the district court abuse its discretion by awarding attorney
fees under Idaho Code section 12-121 to Jones Gledhill?
the district court abuse its discretion by sealing certain
the district court abuse its discretion when it denied
Clark's motion to amend?
the prevailing party entitled to attorney fees on appeal?
The district court properly granted Jones Gledhill's
motion to dismiss.
Court reviews a district court's dismissal under Idaho
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) de novo.
Colafranceschi v. Briley, 159 Idaho 31, 34, 355 P.3d
1261, 1264 (2015).
"When considering a 12(b)(6) motion, we look only to the
pleadings to determine whether a claim for relief has been
stated." "A motion to dismiss for failure to state
a claim should not be granted 'unless it appears beyond
doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support
of his claim that would entitle [the plaintiff] to
relief.' " On review, this Court draws all
reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Id. (citations omitted).
complaint, the focus of our Rule 12(b)(6) inquiry, alleges
Jones Gledhill is liable for "damages of at least $500,
000.00" for failing to protect Clark's claimed
attorney lien. The key allegations of Clark's complaint
are specifically as follows:
21. In January 2016, Anfinson Plumbing and Bakken settled
with the Plaintiffs in the Forbush case for $1, 000,
000.00 and sent a check to the Spence Firm.
22. Even before delivery to The Spence Firm, Clark's lien
attached to the settlement funds in the hands of the
23. Notwithstanding the actual knowledge that Clark had
represented the Plaintiffs in the Forbush case and
despite Clark's written request that Defendants Fuhrman,
Graham and Jones Gledhill Fuhrman Gourley, P.A. protect
Clark's lien by listing Clark as a payee on any
settlement check, Defendants Fuhrman, Graham and Jones
Gledhill Fuhrman Gourley, P.A. provided the ...