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City of Idaho Falls v. H-K Contractors, Inc.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise

April 24, 2018

CITY OF IDAHO FALLS, an Idaho municipal corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
H-K CONTRACTORS, INC., an Idaho corporation, Defendant-Respondent.

         2018 Opinion No. 38

          Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Hon. Joel E. Tingey, District Judge.

         The judgment of the district court is vacated and this case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion. Costs on appeal are awarded to Appellant.

          Randall D. Fife, Idaho Falls, for Appellant. Michael A. Kirkham and Randall D. Fife argued.

          Smith, Driscoll & Associates, PLLC, Idaho Falls, for Respondent. B.J. Driscoll argued.

          BEVAN, JUSTICE.

         The City of Idaho Falls ("Idaho Falls") appeals from an order dismissing its breach of contract and waste claims against H-K Contractors, Inc. ("H-K"). The district court found Idaho Falls' claims were time barred under the statute of limitations regarding contract actions, pursuant to Idaho Code section 5-216. Idaho Falls appeals claiming the district court erred in applying the statute of limitations to its claims. We vacate the judgment of the district court.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

         On September 23, 2005, H-K entered into a written contract requiring it to convey a parcel of property to Idaho Falls. The contract required that H-K initially grant Idaho Falls a storm drainage easement "over and across" the parcel. H-K was also required to convey fee title to the parcel at a future date, in no event later than March 1, 2010. H-K failed to convey the property to Idaho Falls as required.

         On March 9, 2016, Idaho Falls sent a letter to H-K requesting conveyance of title. On June 16, 2016, H-K responded by refusing to convey title to the property, claiming that in 2009 a city official had orally informed H-K that Idaho Falls was no longer interested in the property. Based on that alleged representation, H-K decided to invest in the property to make it profitable.

         On November 22, 2016, Idaho Falls filed a complaint against H-K for breach of contract and waste. On December 19, 2016, H-K moved to dismiss the complaint based on the limitation found in Idaho Code section 5-216, alleging Idaho Falls' claims were time barred because they were not brought within the five-year statute of limitations governing contract actions. Idaho Falls countered that the statute of limitations did not apply to it as a subdivision of the State of Idaho. On January 3, 2017, the district court dismissed Idaho Falls' complaint as time barred. On February 16, 2016, Idaho Falls timely filed a notice of appeal, claiming the district court erred in enforcing the five-year limitation set forth in section 5-216.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This case comes to the Court on review of an order granting H-K's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim.

When this Court reviews an order dismissing an action pursuant to I.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) we apply the same standard of review we apply to a motion for summary judgment. After viewing all facts and inferences from the record in favor of the non-moving party, the Court will ask whether a claim for relief has been stated. The issue is not whether the plaintiff will ...

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