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Westover v. Idaho Counties Risk Management Program

Supreme Court of Idaho

November 28, 2018

VAL D. WESTOVER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
IDAHO COUNTIES RISK MANAGEMENT PROGRAM, Defendant-Respondent.

          Appeal from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Franklin County. Hon. Mitchell W. Brown, District Judge.

         The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

          Atkin Law Office, PC, Clifton, for appellant. Blake S. Atkin argued.

          Anderson, Julian & Hull, LLP, Boise, for respondent. Phillip J. Collaer argued.

          HORTON, Justice.

         Val D. Westover filed this action seeking a declaration that the existence of the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP) violates Idaho law. Westover appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of ICRMP. Westover also appeals the district court's decision to award attorney fees to ICRMP under Idaho Code section 12-121. The district court held that Westover did not have standing to pursue his claim. We affirm the judgment of the district court.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This litigation follows an earlier dispute between Westover and Jase Cundick, the Franklin County Assessor. That dispute came before this Court in Westover v. Cundick, 161 Idaho 933, 393 P.3d 593 (2017). There, Westover advanced claims for slander of title and intentional interference with existing or potential economic relations and sought writs of mandate and prohibition. Id. at 935, 393 P.3d at 595. After Westover voluntarily dismissed the slander of title and tortious interference claims, the district court denied his requests for extraordinary writs and dismissed the action. Id. at 936, 393 P.3d at 596. Westover appealed. We affirmed the judgment of the district court and declined to award attorney fees to either party. Id. at 937-38, 393 P.3d at 597-98.

         Westover then brought this action, seeking a declaration that ICRMP's existence and relationship with county governments violates the directive in Idaho Code section 12-117(3) that attorney fees awarded against a state agency or political subdivision "shall be paid from funds in the regular operating budget . . . ."

         ICRMP moved for summary judgment, contending that Westover lacked standing to pursue his claim. In response, Westover moved for an order compelling discovery and opposed ICRMP's motion for summary judgment on the basis that ICRMP had failed to adequately respond to his discovery requests. The district court treated Westover's opposition as a motion under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) to defer decision on the motion for summary judgment. The district court denied the motion because Westover had not complied with the affidavit or declaration requirement of the rule. The district court then granted ICRMP's motion. In a written opinion, the district court held that Westover lacked standing to pursue the action, relying on this Court's decision in Brooksby v. Geico General Insurance Company, 153 Idaho 546, 286 P.3d 182 (2012), overruled on other grounds by Tucker v. State, 162 Idaho 11, 394 P.3d 54 (2017).

         After granting ICRMP's motion for summary judgment, ICRMP moved for attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-121 on the grounds that Westover's appeal was frivolous and without foundation. The district court denied this request solely because none of the materials in support of ICRMP's motion itemized the claimed expenses as required. ICRMP filed a motion to reconsider the district court's denial of attorney fees. The district court granted the motion to reconsider and subsequently granted the request for attorney fees after the itemization issue was resolved.[1] Westover timely appealed.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A motion pursuant to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) for an extension of time to file additional affidavits, depositions, and interrogatories in opposition to a motion for summary judgment is committed to the discretion of the district court. Haight v. Idaho Dep't of Transportation, 163 Idaho 383, 388, 414 P.3d 205, 210 (2018). "The awarding of attorney fees and costs is within the discretion of the trial court and subject to review for an abuse of discretion." Smith v. Mitton, 140 Idaho 893, 897, 104 P.3d 367, 371 (2004). When this Court reviews an alleged abuse of discretion by a trial court, we consider "[w]hether the trial court: (1) correctly perceived the issue as one of discretion; (2) acted within the outer boundaries of its discretion; (3) acted consistently with the legal standards applicable to the specific choices available to it; and (4) reached its decision by the exercise of reason." Lunneborg v. My Fun Life, 163 Idaho 856, 863, 421 P.3d 187, 194 (2018).

         "Jurisdictional issues, like standing, are questions of law, over which this Court exercises free review." Tucker v. State, 162 Idaho 11, 17, 394 P.3d 54, 60 (2017) (quoting In re Jerome Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 153 Idaho 298, 308, 281 P.3d 1076, 1086 (2012)). "[J]usticiability challenges are subject to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) since they implicate jurisdiction." Id. at 18, 394 P.3d at 61. "[J]justiciability doctrines can be raised sua sponte at any time." Id. at 18 n.4, 394 P.3d at 61 n.4.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. The district court did not err in ruling on ICRMP's ...


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