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Hamell v. Idaho County

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 8, 2018

IDAHO COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Idaho, KATHY ACKERMAN, Idaho County Clerk, JIM CHMELICK, Idaho County Commissioner, MARK FREI, Idaho County Commissioner, SKIP BRANDT, Idaho County Commissioner, JOHN AND JANE DOES 1 - 5, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.


          Hon. Edward J. Lodge U.S. District Judge


         Before the Court in the above-entitled matter are the parties' Cross Motions for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 32, 33.) The responsive briefing has been filed and the Motions are ripe for the Court's consideration. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. In the interest of avoiding further delay and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, this matter is decided on the record without a hearing.


         The facts underlying this case arise from the Defendant Idaho County's sale of three properties it acquired from Plaintiffs, Raymond R. Hamell and Rachelle J. Hamell, through a tax deed after the Plaintiffs failed to pay property taxes. (Dkt. 26.) The properties are identified as: Shingle Creek Property, Shaw Subdivision Lot 1, and Shaw Subdivision Lot 2. The property sales were held by public auction. Plaintiffs allege the Notices of Sale for each of the public auctions issued by the Defendants were deficient because they failed to contain the proper legal description of the properties as required by Idaho Code § 31-808. As a result, Plaintiffs argue, the properties sold for less than their assessed value thereby depriving Plaintiffs of their due process rights to any excess proceeds from the sales.

         Plaintiffs have brought this § 1983 action against the Defendants Idaho County, Kathy Ackerman, the Idaho County Clerk, and Idaho County Commissioners Jim Chmelik, Mark Frei, and Skip Brandt. (Dkt. 26.) The Complaint raises a § 1983 claim for deprivation of the Hamells' property interest without due process, liability by statute for failing to satisfy the requirements of Idaho Code § 31-808, and an alternative claim for declaratory relief. (Dkt. 26.)[1] The parties have filed Cross Motions for Summary Judgment which are now before the Court. (Dkt. 32, 33.)


         Motions for summary judgment are governed by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 56 provides, in pertinent part, that judgment “shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, 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 judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue is “material” if it affects the outcome of the litigation and may be considered “genuine” if it is established by “sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute…to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” Hahn v. Sargent, 523 F.3d 461, 464 (1st Cir. 1975) (quoting First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co. Inc., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)); see also British Motor Car Distrib. v. San Francisco Auto. Indus. Welfare Fund, 883 F.2d 371 (9th Cir. 1989).

         Under Rule 56, summary judgment is mandated if the non-moving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element which is essential to the non-moving party's case and upon which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). If the non-moving party fails to make such a showing on any essential element, “there can be no ‘genuine issue of material fact,' since a complete[] failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Id. at 323.

In order to withstand a motion for summary judgment, a party
(1) must make a showing sufficient to establish a genuine issue of fact with respect to any element for which it bears the burden of proof; (2) must show that there is an issue that may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party; and (3) must come forward with more persuasive evidence than would otherwise be necessary when the factual context makes the non-moving party's claim implausible.

British Motor Car, 882 F.2d at 374 (citation omitted). When applying this standard, the court views all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Hughes v. United States, 953 F.2d 531, 541 (9th Cir. 1992).


         1. Section 1983 ...

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