Gardner v. Evans, No. 15921

CourtIdaho Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBISTLINE; DONALDSON, C.J., BAKES and HUNTLEY, JJ., and McFADDEN
Citation719 P.2d 1185,110 Idaho 925
PartiesNorman GARDNER, Chairman of the Idaho Commission For the Blind, both individually and in his official capacity representing himself and representing the Idaho Commission for the Blind, whose home address is 8265 Valley View Drive, Boise, Idaho 83704; Idaho Commission For the Blind, 341 West Washington, Boise, Idaho 83702; Ramona Walhof, individually and in her capacity as Director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, 341 West Washington, Boise, Idaho 83702; John A. Cheadle, individually and in his capacity as Deputy Director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, 6018 Bay, Boise, Idaho 83704, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. John V. EVANS, Governor of the State of Idaho, individually, and in his capacity as the Chief Executive of the State of Idaho; Marty Peterson, Director of the Division of Financial Management, Office of the Governor, individually and in his capacity as Director of the Division of Financial Management; Lawrence W. Barnes, individually, and in his capacity as a member of the Board of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, 5120 Sorrento Drive, Boise, Idaho 83704; Jack Ugaki, individually, and in his capacity as a member of the Board of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, 265 Cascade, Idaho Falls, Idaho, 83401; and Howard H. Barton, individually, 2605 Utter, Boise, Idaho 83706, Defendants-Respondents.
Decision Date22 May 1986
Docket NumberNo. 15921

Page 1185

719 P.2d 1185
110 Idaho 925
Norman GARDNER, Chairman of the Idaho Commission For the Blind, both individually and in his official capacity representing himself and representing the Idaho Commission for the Blind, whose home address is 8265 Valley View Drive, Boise, Idaho 83704; Idaho Commission For the Blind, 341 West Washington, Boise, Idaho 83702; Ramona Walhof, individually and in her capacity as Director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, 341 West Washington, Boise, Idaho 83702; John A. Cheadle, individually and in his capacity as Deputy Director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, 6018 Bay, Boise, Idaho 83704, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
John V. EVANS, Governor of the State of Idaho, individually, and in his capacity as the Chief Executive of the State of Idaho; Marty Peterson, Director of the Division of Financial Management, Office of the Governor, individually and in his capacity as Director of the Division of Financial Management; Lawrence W. Barnes, individually, and in his capacity as a member of the Board of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, 5120 Sorrento Drive, Boise, Idaho 83704; Jack Ugaki, individually, and in his capacity as a member of the Board of the Idaho Commission for the Blind, 265 Cascade, Idaho Falls, Idaho, 83401; and Howard H. Barton, individually, 2605 Utter, Boise, Idaho 83706, Defendants-Respondents.
No. 15921.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
May 22, 1986.

Page 1188

[110 Idaho 928] Marc Maurer (argued), Baltimore, Md., Frederic S. LeClercq, Knoxville, Tenn., and Kenneth L. Mallea, of the firm Mallea & Scrivner, Boise, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Michael T. Spink (argued) and Stanley W. Welsh, of the firm Clemons, Cosho & Humphrey, Boise, for defendants-respondents Barnes, Ugaki, and Humphrey.

Patrick D. Costello, Office of the Governor, Boise, for defendants-respondents Governor Evans and Peterson.

BISTLINE, Justice.

Ramona Walhof was director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind when she was terminated by a 2-1 vote of that Commission. The members of the Commission at the time of Walhof's firing were Dr. Norman Gardner, Commission Chairman and a co-plaintiff in this suit, Lawrence Barnes, and Jack Ugaki, two of several defendants in this suit.

The plaintiffs--Gardner, Walhof, and John Cheadle, a deputy director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind at the time of his firing--allege that Ugaki and Barnes decided to fire Walhof in a manner violative of Idaho's Open Meetings Law, I.C. § 67-2340 et seq. This action, they argue, should be held null and void pursuant to I.C. § 67-2347.

The plaintiffs also allege that Ugaki and Barnes then agreed to hire Howard Barton--another defendant in this case--to replace Walhof. After Barton was hired, he fired Cheadle. The plaintiffs argue that because Barton's hiring was illegal, anything he did while in the capacity of Administrative Director is also null and void.

The plaintiffs subsequently amended their complaint, naming as additional defendants Governor John Evans and Marty Peterson, Director of Idaho's Division of Financial Management, and alleging constitutional violations. They claim that Walhoff and Cheadle were dismissed, and Gardner excluded from meetings by Ugaki and Barnes, because of the plaintiffs' affiliation with the National Federation of the Blind. This, they claim, violated their First Amendment rights of freedom of association.

The plaintiffs also allege that the defendants fired Walhof and Cheadle and excluded Gardner because Walhof and Cheadle publically criticized a proposal by Governor Evans to consolidate the Idaho Commission for the Blind with the state's Department of Health and Human Services. Thus, plaintiffs also argue that their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech have been violated.

The plaintiffs argue that each of the above acts occurred while defendants were acting within the course and scope of their employment as state officials. They argue, therefore, that they are entitled to relief for these alleged constitutional violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. In their amended complaint, plaintiffs also alleged due process violations. On appeal, plaintiffs also argue that their complaint sufficiently supports claims for violation of [110 Idaho 929]

Page 1189

§ 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Supp.1984), and for defamation.

The district court, in two separate decisions, granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. The district court held that no genuine issues of fact exist concerning any of plaintiffs' claims, and held, as a matter of law, that defendants were entitled to judgment. Plaintiffs now appeal to this Court.

The plaintiffs raise the following six issues on appeal: (1) Did the district court err in ruling against plaintiffs on their claims of violations of Idaho's Open Meetings Law? (2) Did the district court err in ruling against plaintiffs on their claims of violations of freedom of speech? (3) Did the district court err in ruling against plaintiffs on their claims of violations of freedom of association? (4) Did the district court err by ruling against plaintiffs on their claims of violations of procedural due process? (5) Have plaintiffs adequately made out claims of violations of § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973? (6) Have plaintiffs adequately alleged a defamation claim?

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Before addressing these issues, we note the standards upon which summary judgments are to be granted and reviewed on appeal. It is axiomatic that a motion for summary judgment should only be granted when all of the facts contained in all the applicable pleadings, depositions, admissions, and affidavits have been construed most favorably to the nonmoving party, and it is clear that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Bailey v. Ness, 109 Idaho 495, 497, 708 P.2d 900, 902 (1985); I.R.C.P. 56(c). Furthermore, the nonmoving party is to be given the benefit of all favorable inferences which might reasonably be drawn from the evidence. Doe v. Durtschi, 110 Idaho 466, 716 P.2d 1238 (1986); Reis v. Cox, 104 Idaho 434, 438, 660 P.2d 46, 50 (1983). Motions for summary judgment should be granted with caution. Bailey, supra, at 497, 708 P.2d at 902; Steele v. Nagel, 89 Idaho 522, 528, 406 P.2d 805, 808 (1965). Finally, when the motion is supported by depositions or affidavits, the adverse party "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleadings, but his response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." I.R.C.P. 56(e). The latter requirement, however, does not change the standard of favorable construction, mentioned above, which is applicable to summary judgment motions. Durtschi, supra, 110 Idaho at 469, 716 P.2d at 1241; Central Idaho Agency, Inc. v. Turner, 92 Idaho 306, 310, 442 P.2d 442, 446 (1968). With those standards in mind, we turn to the issues.

II. THE DISTRICT COURT ERRED IN RULING AGAINST THE PLAINTIFFS ON THEIR CLAIMS OF VIOLATIONS OF IDAHO'S OPEN MEETINGS LAW

A. Idaho's Open Meetings Law.

In 1974, the legislature declared that "the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret." 1974 Idaho Sess.Laws, ch. 187, § 1, p. 1492, codified at I.C. § 67-2340. In order to implement this mandate, the legislature has declared that "[a]ll meetings of a governing body of a public agency shall be open to the public and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting except as otherwise provided by this act." I.C. § 67-2342(1).

An exception to the requirements of I.C. § 67-2342(1) "otherwise provided by this act" is made for meetings classified as "executive sessions." I.C. § 67-2341(2) defines "executive sessions" as "any meeting ... of a governing body which is closed to any persons for deliberation on certain matters." Such sessions are authorized for several types of matters, including when a governing body wishes to deliberate the dismissal of a public employee working under

Page 1190

[110 Idaho 930] the supervision of that body. I.C. § 67-2345(1)(b). No executive session may be held, however, "for the purpose of taking any final action or making any final decision." I.C. § 67-2345(3). Where only an executive session is held, notice first must first be given "to the members of the governing body, and to the general public, stating the reason and the specific provision of law authorizing the executive session." I.C. § 67-2343. Finally, any action taken at any meeting in violation of Idaho's Open Meetings Act, shall be "null and void." I.C. § 67-2347.

B. Applying Idaho's Open Meetings Law to the Facts of this Case.

The Commission fired Walhof on February 3, 1984, during the course of a public meeting. Walhof contends that insufficient notice of this meeting was given by the Commission. We disagree. The record establishes that notice of the February 3, 1984 meeting was mailed out by Walhof and that she did in fact attend this meeting. R., Vol. 1, p. 24. Walhof cannot, therefore, argue prejudice as far as any allegation of improper notice is concerned, because it is clear that she was not disadvantaged by any notice deficiency.

Walhof next contends that a genuine issue of material fact exists with respect to when she was dismissed. Specifically, Walhof argues that viewing the facts most favorably on her behalf leads to the conclusion that she was fired in advance of the February 3, 1984 meeting, and that this was in violation of I.C. § 67-2340 and 67-2345(3). Accordingly, pursuant to I.C. § 67-2347, Walhof argues that her dismissal is null and void. Furthermore, Cheadle argues that Barton's appointment was premature and, thus, that his dismissal is also null and void.

The facts that Walhof and Cheadle argue create a genuine issue of fact about when she was fired and Barton hired, include the...

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31 practice notes
  • Johnson v. McPhee, No. 33966.
    • United States
    • Idaho Court of Appeals
    • April 8, 2009
    ...in the rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. I.R.C.P. 56(e). See also Gardner v. Evans, 110 Idaho 925, 929, 719 P.2d 1185, 1189 (1986). In order to survive a motion for summary judgment the plaintiff need not prove that an issue will be decided......
  • Edmondson v. Shearer Lumber Products, No. 28541.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 23, 2003
    ...He argues that the public policy at issue prohibits restrictions on free speech and association. He relies on Gardner v. Evans, 110 Idaho 925, 719 P.2d 1185 (1986) and Lubcke v. Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority, 124 Idaho 450, 860 P.2d 653 (1993), which followed the two-step analysis......
  • O'GUIN v. Bingham County, No. 28210.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • June 18, 2003
    ...that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Gardner v. Evans, 110 Idaho 925, 719 P.2d 1185 (1986). The evidence must be construed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Thompson v. Pike, 125 I......
  • Mortensen v. Stewart Title Guar. Co., No. 35949.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 1, 2010
    ...3 (2009). The district court may only consider on summary judgment claims that were properly raised in the pleadings. Gardner v. Evans, 110 Idaho 925, 939, 719 P.2d 1185, 1199 (1986). “A complaint need only contain a concise statement of the facts constituting the cause of action and a dema......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • Johnson v. McPhee, No. 33966.
    • United States
    • Idaho Court of Appeals
    • April 8, 2009
    ...in the rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. I.R.C.P. 56(e). See also Gardner v. Evans, 110 Idaho 925, 929, 719 P.2d 1185, 1189 (1986). In order to survive a motion for summary judgment the plaintiff need not prove that an issue will be decided......
  • Edmondson v. Shearer Lumber Products, No. 28541.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 23, 2003
    ...He argues that the public policy at issue prohibits restrictions on free speech and association. He relies on Gardner v. Evans, 110 Idaho 925, 719 P.2d 1185 (1986) and Lubcke v. Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority, 124 Idaho 450, 860 P.2d 653 (1993), which followed the two-step analysis......
  • O'GUIN v. Bingham County, No. 28210.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • June 18, 2003
    ...that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Gardner v. Evans, 110 Idaho 925, 719 P.2d 1185 (1986). The evidence must be construed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Thompson v. Pike, 125 I......
  • Mortensen v. Stewart Title Guar. Co., No. 35949.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 1, 2010
    ...3 (2009). The district court may only consider on summary judgment claims that were properly raised in the pleadings. Gardner v. Evans, 110 Idaho 925, 939, 719 P.2d 1185, 1199 (1986). “A complaint need only contain a concise statement of the facts constituting the cause of action and a dema......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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