Camp v. East Fork Ditch Co., Ltd.

Decision Date11 September 2002
Docket NumberNo. 26139.,26139.
Citation55 P.3d 304,137 Idaho 850
PartiesJohn B. CAMP, Plaintiff-Appellant-Cross Respondent, v. EAST FORK DITCH COMPANY, LIMITED, Defendant-Respondent-Cross Appellant.
CourtIdaho Supreme Court

Churchill Law Offices, Boise, for appellant. Gary L. Neal, Boise, argued.

Ringert Clark, Chartered, Boise, for respondent. Charles L. Honsinger, Boise, argued.

EISMANN, Justice.

The appellant John B. Camp appeals from the district court's finding that the respondent East Fork Ditch Company has an easement across his property for an irrigation ditch and from an order punishing him for contempt for violating the judgment prohibiting him from interfering with that easement. We uphold the judgment regarding the easement; vacate the order finding Camp in contempt; and remand for further proceedings. The Ditch Company also cross-appeals the order denying its request for an award of attorney fees. We vacate that order and remand for reconsideration of the request.


This lawsuit centers upon the right to use an irrigation ditch called the East Fork Ditch near Council, Idaho. At times during the 1996 and 1997 irrigation seasons, the appellant John B. Camp diverted all of the water out of that section of the ditch that crosses his property. In 1997, Camp was issued two misdemeanor citations for injury to a ditch in violation of Idaho Code § 18-4306. Anneliese Turner, the president of East Fork Ditch Company, Limited, (Ditch Company) had signed the citations. Camp contended that the Ditch Company had no interest in the ditch downstream from his headgate, and the criminal charges were ultimately dismissed on the condition that Camp institute litigation to determine the ownership of that section of the ditch.

On August 18, 1998, Camp filed this action. On November 18, 1998, before any party answered, he filed an amended complaint in which he named as defendants the Ditch Company; the Ditch Company's directors Anneliese Turner, Janet Meyer, William Abide, Daniel Krupp, and Kenneth Ward; and Janet and Ronald Meyer and Lilly Johnson, three water users who obtained irrigation water downstream from Camp's property. The three water users and the Ditch Company filed answers and counterclaims seeking to enjoin Camp from interfering with the ditch. The board of directors also joined in the Ditch Company's answer denying the claims alleged in the complaint.

On March 12, 1999, the Ditch Company and the members of its board of directors moved to dismiss this action on the ground that the complaint did not state a claim upon which relief could be granted. On the same date, the Meyers and Johnson also filed an identical motion to dismiss. On March 30, 1999, Camp filed a motion seeking leave to file a second amended complaint.

The district court heard these motions on April 28, 1999. The court first heard Camp's motion to file a second amended complaint and orally granted it. The parties then stipulated that Camp's causes of action against the Ditch Company's directors and the individual water users would be dismissed without prejudice. Finally, the district court granted the Ditch Company's motion to dismiss counts two and three of the amended complaint.

On June 1, 1999, Camp filed his second amended complaint, naming as defendants the Ditch Company, Anneliese Turner, and Gerald Meyer in his capacity as water master. In count one, Camp sought a declaratory judgment enjoining the Ditch Company from exercising jurisdiction over the irrigation lateral. In count two, Camp sought damages against the Ditch Company because its president Anneliese Turner had initiated criminal charges against him for interference with the ditch. In count three, Camp sought damages against Turner for malicious prosecution based upon her conduct in initiating the criminal charges against Camp. In count four, Camp sought the appointment of a water master. In count five, Camp sought an injunction requiring the Ditch Company to prohibit persons who were not shareholders from receiving water from the ditch.

On June 18, 1999, the Ditch Company moved to strike Camp's second amended complaint. The parties argued that motion on August 23, 1999, and the district court granted it in part, striking language from counts one and five and striking count two in its entirety. On September 14, 1999, the parties stipulated to dismiss Gerald Meyer, the water master, from this action.

On September 16, 1999, counts one, four, and five of Camp's second amended complaint and the counterclaims filed by the Ditch Company and the three water users were tried to the district court sitting without a jury. At the conclusion of Camp's presentation of evidence, the Ditch Company moved for an involuntary dismissal under Rule 41(b) of the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure. The district court granted the motion for involuntary dismissal, and the parties then stipulated that judgment be entered against Camp on the counterclaims. Pursuant to that stipulation, on October 12, 1999, the district court entered an order permanently enjoining Camp from interfering with the East Fork Ditch or the lateral ditches taking water from the East Fork Ditch. The order also provided that the injunction resolved the counterclaim filed by the Meyers and Johnson, and it dismissed that counterclaim.

Count three of Camp's second amended complaint, which alleged a claim for malicious prosecution against Turner, was scheduled for a jury trial to commence on November 16, 1999. On October 18, 1999, Turner moved for summary judgment seeking to have that count dismissed. The district court heard and orally granted that motion on November 16, 1999. On November 24, 1999, it entered an order granting the motion for summary judgment.

On December 8, 1999, the Ditch Company, the Meyers, and Johnson filed a motion for an award of attorney fees under Idaho Code §§ 12-120(1), 12-121, and 12-123 and a memorandum of costs seeking an award of mandatory costs totaling $242.21, discretionary costs totaling $1,070.38, and attorney fees totaling $39,874.00. On December 21, 1999, Camp filed a motion to disallow costs. The motion pointed out that the memorandum of costs did not include the statement required by Rule 54(d)(5) that, to the best of the party's knowledge and belief, the items claimed as costs were correct and were in compliance with Rule 54(d). On December 22, 1999, the Ditch Company filed an amended memorandum of costs correcting that deficiency.

On January 5, 2000, Camp filed a notice of appeal. On February 29, 2000, the district court heard the motion to disallow costs. Both parties were then given time to submit additional authority. In an order entered on May 18, 2000, the district court denied all costs claimed. It held that the memorandum of costs filed on December 8, 1999, did not include the statement required by Rule 54(d)(5) and that the amended memorandum of costs filed on December 22, 1999, was untimely. On June 1, 2000, the Ditch Company appealed the order denying costs.

On June 29, 2000, the Ditch Company instituted contempt proceedings against Camp based upon his violation of the permanent injunction entered on October 12, 1999. The district court heard that matter on August 3, 2000. Four days later it issued an order finding that Camp was in contempt of court and ordering that he immediately serve five days in jail and pay a fine of $5,000 within thirty days. On September 18, 2000, Camp filed an amended notice of appeal from the order finding him in contempt. On March 29, 2001, the district court awarded the Ditch Company attorney fees in the sum of $3,757.75 in connection with the contempt proceedings.

After oral argument, this Court determined that the order granting summary judgment as to count three of Camp's second amended complaint was not a final judgment, and on May 3, 2002, it remanded this case to the district court for entry of a final judgment on that count. On May 23, 2002, the district court entered a final judgment dismissing count three of the second amended complaint.

A. Did the district court err in dismissing count one of Camp's second amended complaint?

In count one of his second amended complaint, Camp sought a declaratory judgment holding that the Ditch Company had no jurisdiction over that portion of the ditch that crossed his property. That count was tried to the district court sitting without a jury. A trial court's findings of fact will not be set aside on appeal unless they are clearly erroneous. Bramwell v. South Rigby Canal Co., 136 Idaho 648, 39 P.3d 588 (2001); IDAHO R. CIV. P. 52(a). When deciding whether findings of fact are clearly erroneous, this Court does not substitute its view of the facts for that of the trial court. Bramwell v. South Rigby Canal Co., 136 Idaho 648, 39 P.3d 588 (2001). It is the province of the trial court to weigh conflicting evidence and to judge the credibility of witnesses. Rowley v. Fuhrman, 133 Idaho 105, 982 P.2d 940 (1999). On appeal, this Court examines the record to see if challenged findings of fact are supported by substantial and competent evidence. Id. Evidence is regarded as substantial if a reasonable trier of fact would accept it and rely upon it in determining whether a disputed point of fact has been proven. Bramwell v. South Rigby Canal Co., 136 Idaho 648, 39 P.3d 588 (2001).

The East Fork Ditch enters Camp's property at its northeast corner, where Camp's headgate is located. From Camp's headgate, designated Headgate 15, the ditch meanders in a southerly direction across Camp's property to Leek's Pond, which is located on the southern boundary of Camp's property. In order to deliver irrigation water to the Meyers and to Lilly Johnson, the Ditch Company conveys water through the ditch to Leek's Pond, from which the Meyers and Johnson withdraw their water. In this litigation, Camp contended that the East Fork Ditch ended at Headgate 15. In...

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  • Lovey v. Régence BlueShield of Idaho
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 18, 2003 award of attorney fees on appeal, but it does not provide the authority for awarding attorney fees. Camp v. East Fork Ditch Co., Ltd., 137 Idaho 850, 55 P.3d 304 (2002). Where BlueShield has failed to cite any authority authorizing an award of attorney fees to it, we will not address tha......
  • Dodson v. Dodson
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    • April 5, 2004 action for damages. In an action for damages, the parties are ordinarily entitled to a trial by jury"); Camp v. East Fork Ditch Co., 137 Idaho 850, 55 P.3d 304, 318 (2002) ("Under Idaho law, however, the court in a contempt proceeding does not have the authority to order the contemnor to......
  • In re Weick
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    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • December 30, 2005
    ...of fact would accept it and rely upon it in determining whether a disputed point of fact has been proven. Camp v. E. Fork Ditch Co., 137 Idaho 850, 856, 55 P.3d 304, 310 (2002). When the trial court exercises its discretion, this Court will not interfere unless the lower court clearly abuse......
  • Coward v. Hadley
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    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • December 20, 2010
    ...Hadley if an investigation turns up no substantial evidence to support any kind of easement claim. See Camp v. E. Fork Ditch Co., 137 Idaho 850, 856 n. 1, 55 P.3d 304, 310 n. 1 (2002) (stating that a prescription claimant must show "open, notorious, continuous, and uninterrupted use, under ......
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1 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • Journal of Appellate Practice and Process Vol. 23 No. 1, January 2023
    • January 1, 2023
    ...possibility existed since criminal contempt may be sought in a civil case and vice versa. See, e.g., Camp v. East Fork Ditch Co., Ltd., 55 P.3d 304 (Idaho 2002) ("Whether contempt is criminal or civil does not depend upon the nature of the lawsuit in which the contempt proceedings are broug......

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