Gibson v. Ada County

Decision Date09 February 2006
Docket NumberNo. 31553.,No. 29694.,No. 30976.,29694.,30976.,31553.
Citation142 Idaho 746,133 P.3d 1211
PartiesStacy A. GIBSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ADA COUNTY, a political subdivision of Idaho; Ada County Sheriff's Office; Vaughn Killeen, acting individually and in his official capacity under color of State Law as Ada County Sheriff; R. Monte Mac Connell, acting individually and in his official capacity under color of State Law as Legal Advisor to the Ada County Sheriff; Arville Glenn, acting individually and in his official capacity under color of State Law as a law enforcement official for Ada County Under the Sheriff; Scott Johnson, acting individually and in his official capacity under color of State Law as a law enforcement official for Ada County under the Sheriff; and Does I thru X, Defendants-Respondents. Stacy A. Gibson, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Ada County, a political subdivision and governmental agency of the State of Idaho, and the Ada County Sheriff's Office, Respondents.
CourtIdaho Supreme Court

Vernon K. Smith, Jr., Boise, for appellant.

Ada County Prosecuting Attorney, Boise, for respondents. Ray J. Chacko argued.

SCHROEDER, Chief Justice.

Three separate cases involving Stacy Gibson (Gibson) and Ada County, et al (Ada County) have been consolidated in this appeal.


Gibson was hired as a Records Technician II with the Ada County Sheriff's Department (ACSD) in 1997. She eventually became a tenured employee in this position, terminable only for cause.

Approximately one week prior to receiving a paycheck, Gibson signed a pay voucher stating:


In May of 1998 Gibson began participation in the ACSD's direct deposit program which authorized ACSD to deposit Gibson's monthly paychecks into her personal checking account and, "if necessary, debit entries and adjustments for any credit entries in error to [her] account...." Thereafter, Gibson's paychecks were directly deposited, but she continued to receive and sign pay vouchers approximately one week prior to each payday.

In the fall of 1998 Gibson was promoted to the position of Jail Technician II, which paid $1,550 per month plus overtime, a $50 per month increase over her former base salary. In the course of changing Gibson's pay rate an error occurred which combined Gibson's base pay as Jail Technician II with that of her former Records Technician II position. From November 1998 through June 1999, Gibson signed pay vouchers authorizing the ACSD to pay her $3,050, plus overtime equaling $100 to $700, per month. The ACSD paid the amounts shown on the pay vouchers, resulting in Gibson being paid for two positions instead of one.

In June or July of 1999 the ACSD discovered it had overpaid Gibson $8,500 over the course of eight months. The ACSD began an internal and criminal investigation into Gibson's actions regarding the overpayment of funds and concluded that she had knowingly signed pay vouchers indicating that her base salary was $3,050 when she knew her base salary was only $1,550. On August 2, 1999, Sheriff Vaughn Killeen (Killeen) sent Gibson a letter expressing his intent to terminate her on the grounds that she: (1) conducted herself in a "manner as to be detrimental to the good order and discipline of the department;" (2) "made a materially misleading statement in an official report;" and (3) "conducted [her]self in such a manner as to reflect unfavorably on th[e] department and [her]self." The letter stated that the facts giving rise to Gibson's termination were: (1) she knowingly accepted salary overpayments; and (2) she did nothing to correct the overpayments or repay the monies erroneously paid to her. The letter also advised Gibson of her right to appeal.

Gibson appealed. An Ada County personnel hearing officer (hearing officer) heard the matter on January 25 and 26, 2000, and on February 15, 2000, affirmed Killeen's decision to terminate Gibson. Gibson filed a petition for judicial review with the district court pursuant to Ada County Code § 1-7G-3(o). The district court addressed the matter under the standard of review set forth in the Idaho Administrative Procedure Act (IAPA) and I.C. §§ 67-5277, 67-5279, and affirmed the hearing officer's decision. Gibson appealed to this Court which vacated the decision of the district court and dismissed Gibson's claims without prejudice, finding that no statutory authority exists to grant judicial review of a county personnel hearing officer's findings of fact and conclusions of law. Gibson v. Ada County Sheriff's Dep't, 139 Idaho 5, 72 P.3d 845 (2003) [hereinafter Gibson I]. Gibson I noted that were the appeal from the Ada County Board of Commissioners (Board), the Supreme Court would have a right of review, and the appropriate standard would be based on IAPA.

A second action arose on July 19, 2002, when Gibson filed a complaint and demand for jury trial in district court alleging, among other things, civil rights violations on the part of the ACSD under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 and 1985(3). The district court dismissed the complaint, determining that the two-year statute of limitations had run, the complaint did not allege facts supporting a claim of racial discrimination, an essential element of a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and no notice of a tort claim had been filed which barred such actions insofar as any of Gibson's claims were for common law tort. Gibson appealed the district court's decision. That appeal is hereinafter referred to as Gibson II.

Following this Court's decision in Gibson I, Gibson submitted a petition to the Board for a review of the hearing officer's January 2000 decision. The Board denied Gibson's request on the grounds that the Idaho Constitution and Idaho case law suggest the decision to hire and fire deputies is left to the sole discretion of an elected official, which includes county sheriffs. On June 4, 2003, Gibson submitted a petition for hearing to the Board. The members of the Board sent a letter to counsel for Gibson dated July 2, 2003, which stated that the Board was unable to hold the requested hearing. Several motions were filed thereafter, including Gibson's Motion to Remand to Ada County Board of Commissioners for Creation of an Agency Record with an Evidentiary and Due Process Hearing, Pursuant to Idaho Code § 67-5242 and § 67-5249 and Rule 84, I.R.C.P. (Motion to Remand), her Petition for Judicial Review, and her Motion to Reconsider Interlocutory Order Conditionally Denying and Dismissing Petition for Judicial Review, with Leave to Amend the Pleadings to Include a Common Law Remedy.

On June 17, 2004, the district court entered an Order on Renewed Motion for Reconsideration and Final Order Denying Petition for Judicial Review, which denied her Petition for Judicial Review and her Renewed Motion to Reconsider the Interlocutory Order Conditionally Denying the Petition for Judicial Review (Motion to Reconsider). On appeal, Gibson raises issues regarding whether she is entitled to a declaratory judgment, whether the district court erred when denying her requests for judicial review, reconsideration, and a remand of the case to the Board. This appeal is hereinafter referred to as Gibson III.

Ada County filed a suit seeking repayment of $8,528.89 that had been overpaid to Gibson. Several motions were made among the parties, including a motion filed by Ada County for summary judgment. On December 6, 2004, the district court issued its Memorandum Decision and Order that granted Ada County's Motion for Summary Judgment, followed by a Judgment awarding Ada County $8,528.89, which is the basis of the appeal of Gibson IV.

All pending issues in the various actions have been consolidated in this appeal.


In reviewing the district court's order granting the motion to dismiss, the standard of review is the same as that used in summary judgment. Rim View Trout Co. v. Idaho Dep't of Water Res., 119 Idaho 676, 677, 809 P.2d 1155, 1156 (1991). The standard of review on appeal from an order granting summary judgment is the same standard that is used by the district court in ruling on the motion. Baxter v. Craney, 135 Idaho 166, 170, 16 P.3d 263, 267 (2000). Summary judgment is appropriate only when the pleadings, depositions, affidavits and admissions on file show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. I.R.C.P. 56(c); McCann v. McCann, 138 Idaho 228, 232, 61 P.3d 585, 589 (2002).

"This Court has free review over the construction of a statute, Waters Garbage v. Shoshone County, 138 Idaho 648, 650, 67 P.3d 1260, 1262 (2003), which includes whether a statute provides for judicial review, and the standard of review to be applied if judicial review is available." Hayden Lake Fire Protection Dist. v. Alcorn, 141 Idaho 388, 400, 111 P.3d 73, 85 (2005).

"Summary judgment is proper `if the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Samuel v. Hepworth, Nungester & Lezamiz, 134 Idaho 84, 87, 996 P.2d 303, 306 (2000) (internal citations omitted).


Prior to bringing a suit for tort against a political subdivision or their employee for any act or omission arising out of the scope of employment, a party must file a notice of the claim with the secretary or clerk of the political subdivision. I.C. §§ 6-906, 6-9...

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