Dodge v. Bonners Ferry Police Department, 100419 IDSCCI, 46696

Docket Nº:46696
Opinion Judge:BURDICK, CHIEF JUSTICE.
Party Name:SHANE R. DODGE and CHRISTINE L. DODGE, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BONNERS FERRY POLICE DEPARTMENT, OFFICER WILLIAM COWELL and OFFICER BRANDON BLACKMORE, Defendants-Respondents.
Attorney:Shane and Christine Dodge, pro se appellants. Lake City Law Group, PLLC, Coeur d'Alene, for respondents.
Judge Panel:Justices BRODY, BEVAN, STEGNER, and MOELLER CONCUR.
Case Date:October 04, 2019
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
 
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SHANE R. DODGE and CHRISTINE L. DODGE, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

BONNERS FERRY POLICE DEPARTMENT, OFFICER WILLIAM COWELL and OFFICER BRANDON BLACKMORE, Defendants-Respondents.

No. 46696

Supreme Court of Idaho

October 4, 2019

Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Boundary County. Barbara A. Buchanan, District Judge.

District Court order dismissing the complaint is affirmed.

Shane and Christine Dodge, pro se appellants.

Lake City Law Group, PLLC, Coeur d'Alene, for respondents.

SUBMITTED ON THE BRIEFS

BURDICK, CHIEF JUSTICE.

Shane R. and Christine L. Dodge appeal the Boundary County district court's dismissal of their tort claim against the Bonners Ferry Police Department, Sergeant William Cowell, and Officer Brandon Blackmore for failure to file a notice of tort claim pursuant to Idaho Code sections 6-610 et seq., and for failure to post a bond prior to commencing their cause of action. We affirm.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On the evening of June 17, 2018, Appellants Shane R. Dodge and his wife Christine L. Dodge ("the Dodges") were returning home with their son after having dinner together, when they turned onto District Two Road and saw a police car partially blocking their lane of travel.

At that time, two Bonners Ferry police officers, Sergeant William Cowell and Officer Brandon Blackmore, were conducting a traffic stop of another vehicle. To avoid hitting them, Mr. Dodge drove slowly by the two cars, and then pulled over about four car-lengths away. He exited his car and approached the police officers. He informed them that the location "was a pretty stupid place to pull people over." Sergeant Cowell instructed Mr. Dodge that he could be arrested for obstruction or interfering with the traffic stop, whereupon Mr. Dodge said, "go to hell." Mr. Dodge was then arrested and placed in the back of the patrol car. When she saw her husband being arrested, Mrs. Dodge exited her car and attempted to approach and question the officers. When she asked the officers why they were arresting her husband, Sergeant Cowell told Officer Blackmore to arrest her too, but Officer Blackmore ordered her to leave the scene. Mr. Dodge was taken to the county jail and booked. Thereafter, he posted bond and was released.

On August 27, 2018, the Dodges filed suit against the Bonners Ferry Police Department, Sergeant Cowell, and Officer Blackmore ("Respondents"). The Dodges alleged that on June 17, 2018: Mr. Dodge was arrested without probable cause in violation of Idaho Code section 19-603; the officers used excessive force in violation of Idaho Code section 19-610; the officers assaulted, battered, and falsely imprisoned Mr. Dodge in violation of Idaho Code sections 18-901(a) and (b), 18-903(a)(b)(c), and 18-2901; the officers falsified a police report in violation of Idaho Code section 18-3201; and the officers assaulted Mrs. Dodge in violation of Idaho Code section 18-901(a) and (b). On the same day they filed the complaint, the Dodges also filed a motion requesting that the court waive the requirement in Idaho Code section 6-610 that they post a bond before commencing the suit.

On September 24, 2018, Respondents filed an answer, admitting several of the facts alleged by the Dodges but denying that the officers had committed any wrongful act or violated any of the Dodges' rights.

On December 13, 2018, exactly 180 days after the Dodge's claims arose, Respondents filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the Dodges failed to file notice of their tort claim or post a bond prior to commencing their suit as required by Idaho Code sections 6-908 and 6-610. Respondents also filed a motion to shorten time, requesting the motion to dismiss be heard on December 20, 2018 the same day several other motions made by the Dodges were scheduled to be heard. The district court granted the motion to shorten time the same day and set the motion to dismiss to be heard on December 20, 2018.

At the hearing, Respondents argued the suit had to be dismissed because the Dodges had failed to comply with the statutory requirements for filing a tort claim against a government entity. The Dodges moved for a continuance so they could review Respondents arguments more fully. The court denied the Dodges' motion for a continuance, explaining that: [N]ormally I would grant you a continuance. But I've reviewed the case law and [Respondents' counsel] and the [Respondents] are absolutely right. If you haven't filed a tort claim, you are - it has to be filed within 180 days of the injury that you're suing over, the claims.

And that 180 days has not been - you can't fix that. So there's no reason to grant you any more time.

The most recent case that I'm aware of in front of me, it's an Idaho Supreme Court case, Allied Bail Bonds versus Kootenai County. It was a First District case involving - that was before Judge Mitchell in Kootenai County, very similar. It had both of these issues.

And the Supreme Court held that complying with the Idaho Tort Claims Act is a mandatory condition to bringing suit. It's fatal to a claim no matter how legitimate the claim may be or might not be.

And so I can't - granting you additional time there's no way - if you haven't filed - if you didn't file the...

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