MIKE ZEYEN, individually, and as a patron of Pocatello/Chubbuck School District #25 and, on behalf of and as Guardian Ad Litem of his minor children, Olivia Zeyen, Noah Zeyen and Ann Zeyen; RACHAEL BOOTH, individually, and as patron of Pocatello/Chubbuck School District #25 and, on behalf of and as Guardian Ad Litem of her minor children, Madison Booth and Braydon Booth, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
POCATELLO/CHUBBUCK SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 25, a municipal corporation of the State of Idaho, Defendant-Respondent.
from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District, State
of Idaho, Bannock County. Robert C. Naftz, District Judge.
court decision on motion to certify and leave to amend,
Huntley Law Firm, PLLC, Boise and Wood Law Group, PC, Idaho
Falls, for appellants. Theodore J. Wood argued.
Anderson, Julian & Hull, LLP, Boise, for respondent.
Brian K. Julian argued.
BURDICK, CHIEF JUSTICE.
appeal arises from the Bannock County district court's
order denying a motion for class certification and a motion
for leave to amend the complaint. The named plaintiff
("Zeyen") seeks declaratory relief and recovery of
damages from Pocatello/Chubbuck School District No. 25 on
behalf of all students currently enrolled in the district and
their guardians. Zeyen alleges that School District 25's
practice of charging fees violates Article IX, section 1, of
the Idaho Constitution (the "Education Article").
Zeyen first sought to certify the class to include all
students within School District 25. Zeyen's later motion
to amend sought to add a takings claim under both the Idaho
and U.S. Constitutions. The district court denied Zeyen's
motion for class certification based on lack of standing and
denied his motion to amend both as untimely and prejudicial
to School District 25. Zeyen timely appeals.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
2016, Zeyen filed his original complaint on behalf of all
K-12 school children in School District 25. Zeyen sought
declaratory judgment that the fees imposed by School District
25 were "illegal and unconstitutional." Zeyen also
requested the "reimbursement" or "refund"
of the fees paid for the 2014-15 school year as well as the
following years. Jurisdiction was proper, Zeyen contended,
under the Education Article. Answering, School District 25
argued that jurisdiction should be under Idaho's
Constitutionally Based Educational Claims Act
("Educational Claims Act" or "the Act")
because the Education Article does not provide a private
cause of action for damages. School District 25 also argued
that Zeyen did not have standing and was not entitled to
class certification. In November 2016, the court calendared
the case for trial to take place in fall 2017 with motions to
amend pleadings due on January 3, 2017.
October 2016, Zeyen moved for class certification. A decision
on that motion was delayed after a few events altered the
course of proceedings. First, School District 25 claimed it
stopped charging fees that were associated with academic
credit beginning with the 2016-17 school year. Second,
Joki v. State was on appeal to this Court. 162 Idaho
5, 394 P.3d 48, 6 (2017). This Court heard oral argument in
the Joki case in January 2017 and took the case
under advisement. A short time after, Zeyen moved to suspend
proceedings until this Court issued a decision in
Joki. The district court granted Zeyen's motion
and vacated the trial dates.
Court issued the Joki opinion in April 2017.
Id. In August 2017, the district court held a status
conference Shortly thereafter, Zeyen filed, and the district
court granted, a motion for leave to amend his complaint The
first amended complaint differed from the original complaint
by asserting that Zeyen and the proposed class "have a
right and standing to sue both as a constitutional claim
under [the Education Article], and also, concurrently, as a
claim under the Constitutionally Based Education Claims
Act" based on this Court's decision in
months later, in October 2017, Zeyen moved for leave to amend
his complaint a second time to plead a violation of the
takings clause. The proposed complaint contained additional
references to the takings clause in the Idaho and U.S.
Constitutions as well as 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In support of
his motion, Zeyen argued that he had a viable claim for an
unlawful taking under this Court's recent decision in
Hill-Vu Mobile Home Park v. City of Pocatello, 162
Idaho 588, 591, 402 P.3d 1041, 1044 (2017). He also asserted
that the Educational Claims Act could not limit his
January 2018, the district court heard argument on
Zeyen's motion for leave to amend the First Amended
Complaint and his motion to certify the class. The court
orally denied the motion to amend the First Amended Complaint
and took the class-certification issue under advisement. The
court later issued an order denying the motion for class
certification. In the accompanying memorandum decision, the
court recited its reasoning for denying Zeyen's motion to
amend the Amended Complaint, explaining that Zeyen's
"undue delay" in asserting the takings claim would
be "especially prejudicial" given "that
discovery was concluded in accordance with the accelerated
timeline" he had requested. As to class certification,
the court ruled that Zeyen lacked standing to pursue the
class action. The court determined that the Educational
Claims Act provides the sole mechanism for Zeyen to acquire
standing under the Education Article. Because the Educational
Claims Act does not address past wrongs or individual
damages, the court ruled that Zeyen failed the typicality
requirement for class-action standing because he lacked a
redressable injury required for individual standing.
Zeyen's request, the court certified the memorandum
decision as a final appealable judgment under Rule 54(b) of
the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure, and Zeyen appealed. After
his appeal was conditionally dismissed for lack of a partial
judgment, the court entered a partial judgment denying the
motion for class certification. This Court elected to treat
the final partial judgment as a motion for permissive appeal
and granted the motion.
ISSUES ON APPEAL
the district court abuse its discretion when it denied
Zeyen's motion for leave to amend the first amended
the district court abuse its discretion when it denied
Zeyen's motion for class certification for lack of
Zeyen entitled to attorney's fees on appeal?
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court reviews a trial court's decision to grant or deny a
motion for class certification for an abuse of discretion.
BHA Investments, Inc. v. City of Boise, 141 Idaho
168, 171, 108 P.3d 315, 318 (2004) (citing Pope v.
Intermountain Gas Co., 103 Idaho 217, 646 P.2d 988
(1982)). Likewise, this Court reviews a trial court's
decision to grant or deny a motion to amend the pleadings for
an abuse of discretion. PHH Mortg. v. Nickerson, 160
Idaho 388, 396, 374 P.3d 551, 559 (2016) (citing Clark v.
Olsen, 110 Idaho 323, 326, 715 P.2d 993, 996 (1986)).
determine whether a lower court has abused its discretion,
this Court asks whether 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)
(citing Hull v. Giesler, 163 Idaho 247, 250, 409
P.3d 827, 830 (2018)).
questions of law, this Court applies a de novo standard of
review. Questions of jurisdiction, statutory interpretation,
and the interpretation and application of procedural rules
are questions of law. See Tucker v. State, 162 Idaho
11, 17, 394 P.3d 54, 60 (2017) ("Jurisdictional issues,
like standing, are questions of law, over which this Court
exercises free review.") (quoting Christian v.
Mason, 148 Idaho 149, 151, 219 P.3d 473, 475 (2009));
Hayes v. City of Plummer, 159 Idaho 168, 170, 357
P.3d 1276, 1278 (2015) ("The interpretation of a statute
is a question of law that the Supreme Court reviews de
novo."); Smith v. Treasure Valley Seed Co., 161
Idaho 107, 109, 383 P.3d 1277, 1279 (2016) ("[T]he
application of a procedural rule is a question of law on
which we exercise free review.") (quoting Zenner v.
Holcomb, 147 Idaho 444, 450, 210 P.3d 552, 558 (2009)).
constitutional challenges, "every presumption is in
favor of the constitutionality of the statute, and the burden
of establishing the unconstitutionality of a statutory
provision rests upon the challenger." Osmunson v.
State, 135 Idaho 292, 294, 17 P.3d 236, 238 (2000)
(citing State v. Nelson, 119 Idaho 444, 447, 807
P.2d 1282, 1285 (Ct. App. 1991)).
reasonable minds may differ on issues of school funding, this
appeal presents two narrow, discrete procedural issues: (A)
whether the district court erred in denying Zeyen's
motion to amend the first amended complaint; and (B) whether
the district court erred in denying Zeyen's motion to
certify the class. For the reasons expressed below, we
determine that the district court did not err in denying
The district court did not abuse its discretion when it
denied Zeyen's motion to amend the complaint.
contends that the district court abused its discretion when
it denied his motion to amend his complaint to specifically
identify the takings and due-process clauses of the Idaho and
U.S. Constitution. The district court denied his motion on
grounds of undue delay and prejudice to School District 25.
To challenge undue delay, Zeyen argues that there was no
scheduling order at the time, no court-imposed deadlines had
passed, and no work had been completed on the merits. As for
prejudice, Zeyen contends that the court would not have to
reopen discovery because discovery on the merits was still
ongoing. In view of the record, we determine that Zeyen has
failed to show that the district court abused its discretion
in denying his motion for leave to amend the first amended
motion for leave to amend the pleadings is governed by Rule
15(a) of the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 15(a)
allows parties to amend the pleadings in three circumstances:
(1) as a matter of right under certain circumstances; (2)
with the opposing party's written consent; and (3) with
leave of court. The purpose of Rule 15 is "to allow the
best chance for each claim to be determined on its merits
rather than on some procedural technicality" and
"to relegate pleadings to the limited role of providing
parties with notice of the nature of the pleader's claim
and the facts that have been called into question."
Clark v. Olsen, 110 Idaho 323, 326, 715 P.2d 993,
996 (1986). "In the absence of any apparent or declared
reason . . . the leave sought should, as the rules require,
'be freely given'" because an "outright
refusal to grant the leave without any justifying reason
appearing for the denial . . . is merely [an] abuse of 
discretion and inconsistent with the spirit" of the
Rules of Civil Procedure. Id. at 326, 715 P.2d at
Clark v. Olsen, this Court recognized some of the
possible reasons that would justify denying a motion to amend
the pleading. Id. at 326, 715 P.2d at 996.
Originally set out in Foman v. Davis by the U.S.
Supreme Court, those reasons are:
- Undue delay;
- Bad faith and dilatory motive on the part of the movant;
- Repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
- Undue prejudice to the opposing party; and
Id. (citing 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). This Court
has expanded on the Foman factors to note that
"[t]imeliness alone is not a sufficient reason to deny a
motion to amend." DAFCO LLC v. Stewart Title Guar.
Co., 156 Idaho 749, 756, 331 P.3d 491, 498 (2014).
Rather, "[t]imeliness is important in view of the
Foman factors . . . ." PHH Mortg. v.
Nickerson, 160 Idaho 388, 396, 374 P.3d 551, 559 (2016)
(quoting Carl H. Christensen Family Tr. v.
Christensen, 133 Idaho 866, 871, 993 P.2d 1197, 1202
the district court first denied the motion to amend from the
bench at the hearing:
This motion for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint is
interesting, and I recognize this is purely discretion on my
part, and I have to look at that in that way, and I know,
also, that I have to consider allowing amendments to be given
freely and liberally-liberal grant to allow amendments to
take place in Complaints, but it is subject to exceptions,
undue delay, bad faith, repeated failure to cure deficiencies
by the amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the
opposing party by virtue of the allowance of the amendments,
and so I've been looking over my notes here with regard
to that, and looking at the fact that I do have discretion
with regard to this amendment, and looking at both arguments
here, and the taking is a new cause of action . . .
The defendants have also argued that to allow the amendment
by the plaintiffs the second time around would prejudice the
defendant, because this could have been asserted, and this is
one of the areas that I am concerned about, this could have
been asserted at the time of the filing of the Complaint,
and, now, there is going to be undue delay. Discovery has
ended. There would be a requirement to have to reopen
discovery to allow this to occur.
I'm very hesitant to allow the amendment at this point in
time . . . . I think based on my discretion and reviewing the
briefing and argument here today, I'm going to deny the
motion to amend for the second amendment in this Complaint,
and take the rest of it under advisement.
court also recited its reasoning for denying Zeyen's
motion to ...