Herman ex rel. Herman v. Herman, No. 26241.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtKIDWELL, Justice.
Citation136 Idaho 781,41 P.3d 209
PartiesMatthew Lee HERMAN, a minor, By and Through Rita HERMAN, his guardian ad litem, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Althea HERMAN, Defendant-Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 26241.
Decision Date18 January 2002

41 P.3d 209
136 Idaho 781

Matthew Lee HERMAN, a minor, By and Through Rita HERMAN, his guardian ad litem, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Althea HERMAN, Defendant-Respondent

No. 26241.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Lewiston, October 2001 Term.

January 18, 2002.


41 P.3d 211
Fitzgerald & Van Idour, Lewiston, for appellant

Dee, MacGregor, Fales & MacGregor, Grangeville, for respondent.

KIDWELL, Justice.

Matthew Herman (Matthew) brought an action against his mother, Althea Herman (Althea), to compel her to account for federal employee death benefits paid to her for the benefit and support of Matthew. The district court granted Althea's motion for summary judgment, finding that no resulting trust arose to support an order for an accounting. We affirm the district court's grant of Althea's motion for summary judgment.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Matthew Herman, born in 1981, is the son of Clifford and Althea Herman. Clifford died in 1992 in a work-related automobile accident while employed by the United States Forest Service. In June of 1992, as a result of Clifford's death, Althea was awarded $119,894.00 in death benefits under the federal Public Safety Officers' Benefit Act of 1976. In September of 1995, Matthew went to live with his Aunt Rita in South Carolina, and in October of 1997 a South Carolina court awarded Rita custody of Matthew. All of the federal benefits had been spent by the time Matthew, through Rita Herman, instituted this action against his mother in July of 1998, when Matthew was seventeen years old.

Matthew sought an accounting by Althea for the portion of the lump-sum Public Safety Officers' benefits she received, arguing that Althea was under a duty to spend a portion of the benefits for Matthew's benefit. He also sought an accounting for any other social security or "federal workmen's compensation" benefits Althea subsequently received for Matthew's care and support. Matthew sought to show that Althea had improperly spent or received some of the funds intended for his care and that he was entitled to an award of the amount improperly spent or received. The district court granted Althea's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case, finding that Althea owed no fiduciary duties to Matthew under the resulting trust theory and that there were no genuine issues of material fact to indicate that Althea had improperly spent the funds.

The South Carolina court that awarded custody to Rita also ordered that Althea pay to Rita any of Matthew's funds still in Althea's possession. In this case Matthew has not asked the district court or this Court to recognize or enforce the order of the South Carolina court.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

On appeal from the grant of a motion for summary judgment, this Court employs the same standard to be used by the district court originally ruling on the motion. Kelso v. Lance, 134 Idaho 373, 374-75, 3 P.3d 51, 52-53 (2000). 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." I.R.C.P. 56(c). As to issues of law, this Court exercises free review of the trial court's decision. Bouten Constr. Co. v. H.F. Magnuson Co., 133 Idaho 756, 760, 992 P.2d 751, 755 (1999).

III.

ANALYSIS

A. The District Court Properly Resolved Conflicting Inferences From The Evidence Available On Summary Judgment.

Generally, on a motion for summary judgment, a court liberally construes all disputed facts in favor of the non-moving party, and draws all reasonable inferences and conclusions supported by the record in favor of the non-moving party. Kelso, 134 Idaho at 375, 3 P.3d at 53. If reasonable people could reach different conclusions or draw conflicting

41 P.3d 212
inferences from the evidence, the motion must be denied. Id.

However, in its Opinion and Order Granting Defendant's Summary Judgment Motion, the district court determined that summary judgment was appropriate, despite the possibility of conflicting inferences, because the court alone was responsible for resolving the conflict between those inferences. Matthew argues that it was error for the district court to resolve conflicting inferences upon summary judgment.

This Court has held, as an exception to the rule that all inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party, that "where the evidentiary facts are undisputed and the trial court rather than a jury will be the trier of fact, summary judgment is appropriate, despite the possibility of conflicting inferences because the court alone will be responsible for resolving the conflict between those inferences." Killinger v. Twin Falls Highway Dist., 135 Idaho 322, 324, 17 P.3d 266, 268 (2000); see also Brown v. Perkins, 129 Idaho 189, 191, 923 P.2d 434, 436 (1996). Neither party requested a jury in this case. Based upon the pleadings and the sole affidavit in the case, there is no dispute that Matthew is the son of Clifford and Althea Herman; that Clifford died in 1992 in a work-related accident; that in June of 1992, Althea received $119,894.00 due to Clifford's death, $19,982.33 of which was for Matthew's benefit; that Matthew went to live with his Aunt Rita in September 1995; that Rita was awarded custody of Matthew in October 1997; and that all of the lump-sum benefits had been spent by the time Matthew instituted this action. The district court was free to resolve any conflicting inferences arising from those undisputed facts.

In his amended complaint, Matthew claimed that Althea received funds intended for his benefit between the 1992 receipt of the lump-sum death benefits and the 1997 custody order. He claimed that Althea either still holds, or that she improperly spent, some of those funds in an amount in excess of $10,000. In her answer and in her affidavit, Althea denied that she received any funds on Matthew's behalf other than the $19,982.33 lump-sum benefit, and she stated that she had spent all of that money for Matthew's care and education. Matthew has not offered anything other than the bare allegations in his complaint to contradict Althea's claim that she spent the money for his benefit. "The party opposing the motion [for summary judgment] may not merely rest on the allegations contained in the pleadings; rather, evidence by way of affidavit or deposition must be produced to contradict the assertions of the moving party." D.A.R., Inc. v. Sheffer, 134 Idaho 141, 144, 997 P.2d 602, 605 (2000). Consequently, these facts are undisputed as well, and the district court was free to resolve any conflicting inferences arising from them.

B. The District Court Properly Ruled That A Letter From The Justice Department Was Inadmissible Hearsay.

Matthew submitted a letter purporting to be written by...

To continue reading

Request your trial
6 practice notes
  • Hopkins v. Martinez (In re Espino), Bankruptcy 20-40528-JMM
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Idaho
    • December 6, 2022
    ...the intention of the parties as determined from the facts and circumstances existing at the time of the transaction." Herman v. Herman, 136 Idaho 781, 786, 41 P.3d 209, 214 (2002) (quoting Shurrum, 80 Idaho at 53, 324 P.2d at 385.)[13] As with a partially performed oral contract, a resultin......
  • White v. Mock, No. 29319.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 7, 2004
    ...grounds. This Court reviews challenges to a trial court's evidentiary rulings under an abuse of discretion standard. Herman v. Herman, 136 Idaho 781, 41 P.3d 209 (2002). Evidentiary rulings involving relevancy, however, are not discretionary matters, and as such are reviewed de novo. State ......
  • State v. Rawlings, No. 42697–2014.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • December 22, 2015
    ...served reasonably in advance of trial, it implicitly so held because it denied the motion in limine. See Herman ex rel. Herman v. Herman, 136 Idaho 781, 786, 41 P.3d 209, 214 (2002).In arguing the motion in limine on September 12, 2014, the defense asserted that the Prosecutor's 404(b) noti......
  • State v. Rawlings, 42697–2014.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • December 22, 2015
    ...served reasonably in advance of trial, it implicitly so held because it denied the motion in limine. See Herman ex rel. Herman v. Herman, 136 Idaho 781, 786, 41 P.3d 209, 214 (2002).In arguing the motion in limine on September 12, 2014, the defense asserted that the Prosecutor's 404(b) noti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Hopkins v. Martinez (In re Espino), Bankruptcy 20-40528-JMM
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Idaho
    • December 6, 2022
    ...the intention of the parties as determined from the facts and circumstances existing at the time of the transaction." Herman v. Herman, 136 Idaho 781, 786, 41 P.3d 209, 214 (2002) (quoting Shurrum, 80 Idaho at 53, 324 P.2d at 385.)[13] As with a partially performed oral contract, a resultin......
  • White v. Mock, No. 29319.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 7, 2004
    ...grounds. This Court reviews challenges to a trial court's evidentiary rulings under an abuse of discretion standard. Herman v. Herman, 136 Idaho 781, 41 P.3d 209 (2002). Evidentiary rulings involving relevancy, however, are not discretionary matters, and as such are reviewed de novo. State ......
  • State v. Rawlings, No. 42697–2014.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • December 22, 2015
    ...served reasonably in advance of trial, it implicitly so held because it denied the motion in limine. See Herman ex rel. Herman v. Herman, 136 Idaho 781, 786, 41 P.3d 209, 214 (2002).In arguing the motion in limine on September 12, 2014, the defense asserted that the Prosecutor's 404(b) noti......
  • State v. Rawlings, 42697–2014.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • December 22, 2015
    ...served reasonably in advance of trial, it implicitly so held because it denied the motion in limine. See Herman ex rel. Herman v. Herman, 136 Idaho 781, 786, 41 P.3d 209, 214 (2002).In arguing the motion in limine on September 12, 2014, the defense asserted that the Prosecutor's 404(b) noti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT