DEANN C. TURCOTT, Plaintiff-Counterdefendant-Appellant,
THE ESTATE OF CLARENCE D. BATES, CLINTON D. BATES, Personal Representative, and The Bates Family Trust dated the 20th day of November, 2015; JANET N. BATES, CLINTON D. BATES and SHERRAL BATES, Co-Trustees, Defendants-Counterclaimants-Respondents.
from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Richard Christensen,
decision of the district court is affirmed. Costs,
but not attorney fees, awarded to the Estate.
Bistline Law, PLLC, Coeur d'Alene, Attorneys for
Appellant. Arthur M. Bistline argued.
Law Office, P.A., Coeur d'Alene, Attorneys for
Respondent. Edwin B. Holmes argued.
Nature of the Case
appeal concerns a district court's award of damages.
Believing that she would be inheriting half of her father
Clarence Bates' estate, Deann Turcott and her husband
spent considerable time and money making improvements on
Clarence's land. However, Clarence subsequently changed
his will and left Deann nothing. Deann filed suit seeking
quantum meruit damages for the work she had performed. The
district court held that quantum meruit damages were not
appropriate and awarded damages under a theory of unjust
enrichment. Deann appealed the district court's award of
unjust enrichment damages as inadequate. We affirm.
Factual and Procedural Background
1996, Clarence executed a will devising his real property to
his two children, Deann and Clint, to "share and share
alike." From 2007 to 2014, Deann and her husband moved
onto Clarence's property and spent considerable time,
effort, and money towards the upkeep of the property
including: cultivating fields that had become overgrown with
weeds; raising hay crops; raising cattle; maintaining
fencing; clearing brush; restoring a barn; maintaining and
repairing farm equipment; and performing administrative work
associated with the farm and timberlands. Deann also built a
personal residence on the property in 2012. The evidence
showed that most of this work was not performed at the
request of Clarence, but it was done with his knowledge.
Deann testified the improvements and work were done in
anticipation of her inheriting half of Clarence's estate.
However, in 2014 Clarence remarried, and in 2015, Clarence
revoked his previous will and placed all of his property in
trust for himself and his new wife, Janet. In his new will
Clarence declared "I purposefully have excluded my
daughter, Deann C. Turcott as a devisee of my estate and my
daughter, Deann C. Turcott shall take nothing from my
September 22, 2016, Deann initiated this lawsuit against her
father Clarence, his wife Janet, and Deann's brother
Clint, to enforce Clarence's alleged promise to maintain
his 1996 will. During the litigation Clarence passed away and
his estate and the Bates Family Trust (collectively "the
Estate") were substituted as the real parties in
interest, and Clint and Janet were dismissed in their
personal capacities but remained involved in their
representative capacities. The district court later dismissed
Deann's claim to enforce her father's alleged promise
to maintain a will, but allowed Deann to amend her complaint
to seek quantum meruit damages for the work she performed on
matter went to trial where the issue before the district
court was whether to award Deann damages measured in quantum
meruit as she claimed, or based on unjust enrichment as
claimed by the Estate. Following a bench trial, the district
court awarded what it characterized as unjust enrichment
damages. Deann was awarded $136, 402.50, itemized in the
1. Turcott Residence - $130, 000.00
2. Barn Repair - $3, 497.94
3. Forestry Work- $531.94
4. Other Reimbursable - $854.42
5. Taxes and Insurance - $136.14
6. Water Adjudication - $1, 382.06
February 2, 2018, Deann filed a motion for reconsideration -
again requesting that the district court award damages under
a theory of quantum meruit instead of unjust enrichment.
Deann argued that if the Court would not reevaluate its
decision to award unjust enrichment damages, that it was an
error to award any sums other than the value of the residence
and $136.14, an amount Clarence had specifically asked Deann
to pay; thus, Deann effectively asked the district court to
reduce her award to $130, 136.14. On March 6, 2018, Deann
revised her motion for reconsideration to request that in the
event the court would not award quantum meruit damages, it
should increase its award under unjust enrichment by $153,
district court denied Deann's motion to reconsider:
[T]he Court based its decision on the substantial evidence
presented at trial. The Court is also free in a court trial
to find reasonable inferences from the evidence presented.
The Court found by reasonable inference that the defendants
were unjustly enriched as to the renovations of the barn by
the cost of materials and such ...