416 P.3d 951 (Idaho 2018), 44886, City of Idaho Falls v. H-K Contractors, Inc.

Docket Nº:44886
Citation:416 P.3d 951, 163 Idaho 579
Opinion Judge:BEVAN, Justice.
Party Name:CITY OF IDAHO FALLS, an Idaho municipal corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. H-K CONTRACTORS, INC., an Idaho corporation, Defendant-Respondent.
Attorney:Randall D. Fife, Idaho Falls, for Appellant. Michael A. Kirkham and Randall D. Fife argued. Smith, Driscoll & Associates, PLLC, Idaho Falls, for Respondent. B.J. Driscoll argued.
Judge Panel:Chief Justice BURDICK, Justices HORTON and BRODY, and Justice pro tem LORELLO concur.
Case Date:April 24, 2018
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
SUMMARY

The City of Idaho Falls (“Idaho Falls”) appealed an order dismissing its breach of contract and waste claims against H-K Contractors, Inc. (“H-K”). In 2005, H-K entered into a written contract requiring it to convey a parcel of property to Idaho Falls. The contract required that H-K initially grant Idaho Falls a storm drainage easement “over and across” the parcel. H-K was also required to convey... (see full summary)

 
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Page 951

416 P.3d 951 (Idaho 2018)

163 Idaho 579

CITY OF IDAHO FALLS, an Idaho municipal corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

H-K CONTRACTORS, INC., an Idaho corporation, Defendant-Respondent.

No. 44886

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise

April 24, 2018

Page 952

2018 Opinion No. 38

Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Hon. Joel E. Tingey, District Judge.

The judgment of the district court is vacated and this case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion. Costs on appeal are awarded to Appellant.

Randall D. Fife, Idaho Falls, for Appellant. Michael A. Kirkham and Randall D. Fife argued.

Smith, Driscoll & Associates, PLLC, Idaho Falls, for Respondent. B.J. Driscoll argued.

OPINION

BEVAN, Justice.

Page 953

The City of Idaho Falls (" Idaho Falls" ) appeals from an order dismissing its breach of contract and waste claims against H-K Contractors, Inc. (" H-K" ). The district court found Idaho Falls’ claims were time barred under the statute of limitations regarding contract actions, pursuant to Idaho Code section 5-216. Idaho Falls appeals claiming the district court erred in applying the statute of limitations to its claims. We vacate the judgment of the district court.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

On September 23, 2005, H-K entered into a written contract requiring it to convey a parcel of property to Idaho Falls. The contract required that H-K initially grant Idaho Falls a storm drainage easement " over and across" the parcel. H-K was also required to convey fee title to the parcel at a future date, in no event later than March 1, 2010. H-K failed to convey the property to Idaho Falls as required.

On March 9, 2016, Idaho Falls sent a letter to H-K requesting conveyance of title. On June 16, 2016, H-K responded by refusing to convey title to the property, claiming that in 2009 a city official had orally informed H-K that Idaho Falls was no longer interested in the property. Based on that alleged representation, H-K decided to invest in the property to make it profitable.

On November 22, 2016, Idaho Falls filed a complaint against H-K for breach of contract and waste. On December 19, 2016, H-K moved to dismiss the complaint based on the limitation found in Idaho Code section 5-216, alleging Idaho Falls’ claims were time barred because they were not brought within the five-year statute of limitations governing contract actions. Idaho Falls countered that the statute of limitations did not apply to it as a subdivision of the State of Idaho. On January 3, 2017, the district court dismissed Idaho Falls’ complaint as time barred. On February 16, 2016, Idaho Falls timely filed a notice of appeal, claiming the district court erred in enforcing the five-year limitation set forth in section 5-216.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

This case comes to the Court on review of an order granting H-K’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. When this Court reviews an order dismissing an action pursuant to I.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) we apply the same standard of review we apply to a motion for summary judgment. After viewing all facts and inferences from the record in favor of the non-moving party, the Court will ask whether a claim for relief has been stated. The issue is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the party is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims.

Joki v. State, 162 Idaho 5, 8, 394 P.3d 48, 51 (2017) (quoting Coalition for Agriculture’s Future v. Canyon County, 160 Idaho 142, 145, 369 P.3d 920, 923 (2016) ) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). " In addition, this Court reviews an appeal from an order of summary judgment de novo, and this Court’s standard of review is the same as the standard used by the trial court in ruling on a motion for summary judgment." Id.

" [T]he interpretation of a statute is a question of law over which this Court exercises free review." Regan v. Owen, 163 Idaho 359, __, 413 P.3d 759, 762 (2018). In particular, " [t]he determination of the applicable statute of limitation is a question of law over which this Court has free review."

Page 954

Guzman v. Piercy, 155 Idaho 928, 934, 318 P.3d 918, 924 (2014) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

III. ANALYSIS

A. The district court erred when it determined the term " state" in Idaho Code section 5-216 did not include Idaho’s municipalities.

The standard this Court applies when interpreting statutes is well established: Interpretation of a statute begins with an examination of the statutes literal words. Where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, courts give effect to the statute as written, without engaging in statutory construction. Only where the language is ambiguous will this Court look to rules of construction for guidance and consider the reasonableness...

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