MARTIN C. GALVIN and PATRICIA L. GALVIN, Plaintiffs-Respondents,
CITY OF MIDDLETON, Defendant-Appellant.
from the District Court of the Third Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. George A. Southworth,
judgment of the district court is affirmed.
& Lakey, Meridian, for Appellants. Victor S. Villegas
Barker, Rosholt & Simpson, LLP, Boise, for Respondents.
Scott Magnuson argued.
City of Middleton (the City) appeals the district court's
grant of summary judgment to Martin and Patricia Galvin on
their claim of prescriptive easement and its award of
attorney fees to the Galvins pursuant to Idaho Code section
12-117. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
28, 2016, the Galvins filed a complaint against the City of
Middleton for quiet title, declaratory judgment, and a
permanent injunction concerning their use of Willis Road, a
private road that the City acquired in 2015. The Galvins
alleged that their use of Willis Road since 1949 created a
prescriptive easement entitling them to use the road for
ingress, egress, and farming and irrigation purposes. The
City's answer denied the existence of the easement but
did not dispute that the Galvins had used the road for the
past sixty years.
Galvins moved for summary judgment on November 23, 2016. The
City opposed the motion, arguing that genuine issues of
material fact regarding abandonment of the easement and the
easement's dimensions precluded summary judgment. The
City's primary argument was that the Galvins had
abandoned the prescriptive easement by applying for and
receiving a zoning change for the property.
district court granted summary judgment for the Galvins,
observing that "[a]lthough the parties have emphasized
different facts, there does not appear to be an actual
dispute as to the facts in this case." The district
court found that the Galvins had demonstrated the creation of
a prescriptive easement, that the Galvins had not abandoned
the easement, and that the City's defense of the case was
"without a reasonable basis in law or fact."
City filed a motion to reconsider the grant of summary
judgment and award of attorney fees. At the same time, the
Galvins moved to amend the judgment to include a full
description of the length and width of the easement which the
district court granted without permitting the City to
respond. Although the district court denied the City's
motion to reconsider, it set a hearing to determine the
dimensions of the easement. At the hearing, the City disputed
whether the width of the easement should be sixteen or twenty
feet. The Galvins offered to stipulate to a sixteen-foot-wide
easement to settle the matter, but the City refused unless
the district court disallowed the previous award of attorney
fees. The basis for the City's challenge to the award of
attorney fees relied on a line of caselaw first articulated
in Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District v. Washington
Federal Savings, 135 Idaho 518, 20 P.3d 702 (2001),
abrogated by Idaho Military Historical Soc'y, Inc. v.
Maslen, 156 Idaho 624, 329 P.3d 1072 (2014). "The
entire course of the litigation must be taken into account
and if there is at least one legitimate issue presented,
attorney fees may not be awarded even though the losing party
has asserted other factual or legal claims that are
frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation."
Coward v. Hadley, 150 Idaho 282, 289-90, 246 P.3d
391, 398-99 (2010).
protracted fight over attorney fees, the district court
issued an order awarding attorney fees to the Galvins
pursuant to Idaho Code section 12-117, reducing the amount
awarded because the Galvins "submitt[ed] the first legal
description that contained an erroneous legal
description." The City timely appealed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing an order granting summary judgment, this Court
applies the same standard used by the court in ruling upon
the motion. Morgan v. New Sweden Irrigation Dist.,
156 Idaho 247, 253, 322 P.3d 980, 986 (2014). Summary
judgment is warranted when "there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law." I.R.C.P. 56(a).
Disputed facts are resolved in favor of the non-moving party,
but "when an action will be tried before the court
without a jury, the judge is not constrained to draw
inferences in favor of the party opposing a motion for
summary judgment but rather the trial judge is free to arrive
at the most probable inferences to be drawn from
uncontroverted evidentiary facts."
In re Contest of Election, 164 Idaho 102, 105, 425
P.3d 1245, 1248 (2018) (quoting Barnes v. Jackson,
163 Idaho 194, 197, 408 ...