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Miller v. State ex rel. Idaho Transportation Board

United States District Court, D. Idaho

January 18, 2018



          David C. Nye U.S. District Court Judge

         I. OVERVIEW

         There are two pending motions in this matter. Pro se Plaintiffs Kristin and Cache Miller (“the Millers”) filed a “Motion for Relief (i.e. Injunctive Relief)” on November 14, 2017. Dkt. 17. Defendant The State of Idaho, appearing on behalf of the Idaho Transportation Board (“the State”), filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on December 5, 2017. Dkt. 18. Having reviewed the record, the Court finds that the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in the briefs. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court decides the pending Motions on the record without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. The Court also DENIES the Motion for Relief as moot.


         In May of 2012, the State served a complaint and summons on the Millers declaring that it was exercising its eminent domain powers to condemn a portion of property owned by the Millers in Eagle, Idaho.[1] See State ex rel. Idaho Transp. Bd., No. CV-OC-2012-08146, at 1 (Idaho 4th Jud. Dist. Mar. 11, 2013).[2] The State was endeavoring to extend State Highway 16 from State Highway 44 to U.S. Highway 20-26 across the Boise River. Id. At the time, the Millers' property was accessible from both Highway 16 and Schultz Court. The State sought to condemn any access rights to the Millers' property from Highway 16. Id. The State also sought temporary easements across the property for construction purposes. Id. at 1-2.

         At that time, the Millers were using the property, which consisted of three separate parcels of land (known as Parcels 42, 43, and 44), as an event venue. Id. at 4. The property had one building on it, which was located on Parcel 44. Id. The Millers used Parcels 42 and 43 for additional parking. Id.

         The Millers did not respond to the complaint. Accordingly, on October 19, 2012, the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for the County of Ada, entered default against the Millers.[3] Id. at 7. After the state court entered default, the only issue that remained was the amount of compensation the State owed the Millers for the taking. Id. at 7-8. The court held a hearing on this issue, and Cache Miller appeared on behalf of the Millers. Id. at 7. After an extensive analysis, on March 11, 2013, the court entered a Memorandum Decision and Order finding as follows:

1) The taking of the property involved was for a purpose and use authorized by law, namely the construction and/or maintenance of roads and by roads.
2) The takings made necessary for such use are appropriate to and necessary for such use.
3) That the complaint substantially complies with the requirements of section 7-707, Idaho Code.
4) That the amount needed to provide the condemnees' with just compensation for the taking in this case is . . . $381, 721.64.

Id. at 18. The compensation included “costs of cure resulting from the taking, ” which included replacing the Millers' well, installing new fencing, and constructing a new gravel road to provide interconnectivity between the Parcels. Id. at 7. The court then entered final judgment in the case. The Millers did not appeal the decision and the State paid the Millers the awarded compensation.

         In its decision on just compensation, the state court found it appropriate to treat Parcels 42, 43, and 44 “as a single unified parcel under common ownership of the Millers” because, as of the date of the summons, May 4, 2012, that was the status of the Parcels. Id. at 13. In doing so, the state court rejected the Millers' argument “that because of a pending foreclosure involving one or more of the parcels, Parcel 44 must be considered to be a ‘landlocked' parcel that the state [was] obliged to purchase outright.” Id. At some point after the condemnation final judgment Parcels, 42 and 43 were foreclosed on and/or sold. As a result of these actions, the Millers no longer had road access to Parcel 44. The State's condemnation action had cut off their access to the Parcel via Highway 16 and the foreclosure/sale had cut off their access to the Parcel via Schultz Court. Parcel 44 was then land-locked.

         The Millers were unable to sell or rent Parcel 44, so they began using it as their home. Dkt. 1 at 5. After the condemnation, the Millers did not have a replacement well installed, so the building does not have running water. Apparently, despite the condemnation, the Millers have continued to use Highway 16 to access their home. The Idaho Transportation Department has ...

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