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Medical Recovery Services, LLC v. Lopez

Supreme Court of Idaho

February 14, 2018

MEDICAL RECOVERY SERVICES, LLC, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
ROBERT LOPEZ, Defendant-Respondent.

         2018 Opinion No. 13

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Lincoln County. Hon. John K. Butler, District Judge.

         The district court's judgment denying attorney fees is affirmed.

         MRS's request for attorney fees on appeal is denied.

          Smith, Driscoll, & Associates, PLLC, Idaho Falls, attorney for appellant.

          Robert Lopez, Heyburn, pro se.

          BEVAN, JUSTICE.

         I. Nature of the Case

         Medical Recovery Services, LLC ("MRS") appeals a district court's judgment denying its request for postjudgment attorney fees on an appeal. The dispute arose after MRS attempted to collect a debt owed by Robert Lopez ("Lopez"). The magistrate court entered a default judgment and awarded attorney fees to MRS. MRS continued to incur attorney fees while attempting to collect on the default judgment and filed a request to recover its postjudgment attorney fees, which the magistrate court denied. MRS appealed, and the district court reversed the magistrate court's denial of postjudgment attorney fees, but declined to award MRS attorney fees related to its appeal of the magistrate court's decision. We affirm the district court's judgment.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         On June 2, 2015, MRS filed a complaint to collect on a debt owed by Lopez. MRS alleged that Lopez owed approximately $776.94, which included attorney fees in the amount of $285.47. Lopez failed to respond, and MRS filed an application for entry of default. The magistrate court denied MRS's request, and MRS filed a motion for reconsideration. On September 9, 2015, the magistrate court entered an amended default judgment, which specified that Lopez owed MRS $776.94, plus interest and costs. Subsequently, the magistrate court issued a writ of execution and order for continuing garnishment.

         The Jerome County Sheriff served the writ of execution on Lopez's employer, Arlo Lott Trucking. However, it was returned unsatisfied, citing that Lopez no longer worked for Arlo Lott Trucking. MRS filed an application for continuing garnishment, and the Minidoka County Sheriff served the writ of execution and order for continuing garnishment on Lopez's new employer, B & H Farming. The judgment was satisfied on approximately August 23, 2016.

         On September 6, 2016, MRS filed an application for an award of $908 in postjudgment attorney fees, which the magistrate court denied. MRS appealed the magistrate court's decision, arguing that the statutory language of Idaho Code section 12-120(5) provides that a court must award postjudgment attorney fees when a party has incurred reasonable fees in attempting to collect on a judgment. MRS also requested attorney fees and costs on its appeal to the district court under Idaho Code section 12-120(1), (3) and (5).

         On March 1, 2017, the district court reversed the magistrate court's denial of postjudgment attorney fees. However, the district court denied MRS's request for attorney fees on appeal. The district court awarded costs on appeal under Idaho Appellate Rule 40, but MRS failed to file its memorandum within the required ...


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