Hughes v. State, Idaho Dept. of Law Enforcement, No. 22162

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtTROUT; McDEVITT; SCHROEDER
Citation129 Idaho 558,929 P.2d 120
Docket NumberNo. 22162
Decision Date24 December 1996
PartiesLois A. HUGHES and Lois A. Hughes as natural guardian of Dawn M. Hughes, Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. STATE of Idaho, IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, Richard Cade, Director, Craig D. Peterson and John Doe, Defendants-Appellants. . Boise, September, 1996 Term

Page 120

929 P.2d 120
129 Idaho 558
Lois A. HUGHES and Lois A. Hughes as natural guardian of Dawn M. Hughes, Plaintiffs-Respondents,
v.
STATE of Idaho, IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, Richard Cade, Director, Craig D. Peterson and John Doe, Defendants-Appellants.
No. 22162.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
Boise, September, 1996 Term.
Dec. 24, 1996.

Page 122

McDevitt, Meyers & Thomsen, Pocatello, for appellants. Jerry R. Meyers argued.

John B. Kugler, Pocatello, for respondents.

TROUT, Justice.

I.

BACKGROUND AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

This appeal arose from a district court action for personal injury to Plaintiff-Respondent Dawn Hughes (Hughes). Hughes, an elementary school child, sustained injuries in September 1991 when a Chevrolet Blazer driven by Defendant-Appellant Craig Peterson (Peterson) struck her. Peterson was employed by the Department of Law Enforcement (Department), which owned the Blazer Peterson was driving at the time of the accident. According to Hughes' testimony, she was preparing to cross a residential street at the crosswalk when she crouched behind a Dodge Dart that was parked in a no parking zone and looked in the direction of oncoming traffic. Apparently, Hughes believed that no traffic was coming and stepped into the crosswalk. The right front corner of the Blazer struck Hughes when she was in the middle of the street. Hughes' mother filed suit against Peterson and the Department on Hughes' behalf.

A jury heard the case in March 1995 and found that the Department and Peterson were not in any way the proximate cause of the accident. After the trial, the Hugheses made a motion for new trial based on I.R.C.P. 59(a)(1), (2), (3), (6), and (7) and also made a motion for judgment NOV. The district court heard oral argument concerning the motions. The court denied the motion for judgment NOV but granted the motion for new trial, basing its reasons for granting the motion for new trial on three of the five grounds the Hugheses alleged. However, the district court did not rely in any way on the affidavit the Hugheses filed in support of their motion, nor did the court rely on the facts and particular grounds stated in the Hugheses' motion and affidavit. The Department appealed the district court's grant of a new trial, contending that the court abused its discretion.

Page 123

Because the district court based its grant of a new trial on entirely different factual bases than the Hugheses asserted in support of their motion, it is important at the outset to note what this Court is not ruling on. This Court is not ruling on the Hugheses' motion for new trial and supporting affidavit because the affidavit clearly is defective and would not support a motion for new trial. Consequently, this Court is assuming that the district court likewise concluded that it would ignore the motion and affidavit and, instead, would make its own ruling in granting a new trial. The district court is entitled to do that pursuant to I.R.C.P. 59(d), provided it bases its grant of a new trial on some or all of the reasons listed in I.R.C.P. 59(a). Smallwood v. Dick, 114 Idaho 860, 761 P.2d 1212 (1988). While the district court did not refer specifically to I.R.C.P. 59(d), this Court interprets the district court's ruling as grounded in I.R.C.P. 59(d). Therefore, this Court will review the district court's ruling based upon the grounds the district court articulated as its basis for granting the new trial.

II.

TRIAL ISSUES

A. Standard of Review

When considering an appeal from a district court's ruling on a motion for new trial, this Court applies the abuse of discretion standard. Bott v. Idaho State Building Authority, 122 Idaho 471, 835 P.2d 1282 (1992). This Court consistently has recognized the district court's wide discretion to grant or refuse to grant a new trial, and, on appeal, this Court will not disturb a district court ruling, absent a showing of manifest abuse of that discretion. First Realty & Investment Co. v. Rubert, 100 Idaho 493, 600 P.2d 1149 (1979). Although this Court necessarily must review the evidence, it primarily focuses on the process by which the district court reached its decision, not on the result of the district court's decision. Quick v. Crane, 111 Idaho 759, 727 P.2d 1187 (1986). Thus, the sequence of this Court's inquiry is:

(1) whether the district court correctly perceived the issue as one of discretion; (2) whether the district court acted within the outer boundaries of its discretion and consistently with the legal standards applicable to the specific choices available to it; and (3) whether the district court reached its decision by an exercise of reason.

Sun Valley Shopping Center v. Idaho Power, 119 Idaho 87, 94, 803 P.2d 993, 1000 (1991).

B. Jury Misconduct--I.R.C.P. 59(a)(2)

The Department contends that the district court abused its discretion when it granted a new trial based upon the court's determination that the jury failed to follow instructions. In the district court's order granting a new trial, the court indicated that a trial court sits as a thirteenth juror and further stated that, in the court's opinion, the jury's determination of the percentages of negligence was incorrect. Apparently, the district court concluded that the jury committed some type of misconduct because the jury did not rule as the district court would have ruled.

When a party alleges jury misconduct as grounds for a new trial, there must be a showing that prejudice reasonably could have occurred. Pacheco v. Safeco Insurance Company of America, 116 Idaho 794, 780 P.2d 116 (1989); Roll v. City of Middleton, 115 Idaho 833, 771 P.2d 54 (Ct.App.1989). A district court granting a motion for a new trial must set forth its findings of prejudice and "state its reasons with particularity unless it is obvious from the record itself." Quick, 111 Idaho at 773, 727 P.2d at 1201. This particularly is important when a district court grants a new trial pursuant to I.R.C.P. 59(d), as a ruling under 59(d) necessarily does not require a supporting affidavit.

The difficulty with the district court's ruling under I.R.C.P. 59(a)(2) is that the court did not specify in what way the jury failed to follow instructions nor why it was misconduct on the part of the jury to find that the Department and Peterson were not negligent. Furthermore, the district court's statements relating to a trial court sitting as a thirteenth juror and weighing...

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17 practice notes
  • Drennon v. Craven, No. 29205.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Idaho
    • August 20, 2004
    ...or pursued frivolously, reasonable attorney fees may be awarded under I.C. §§ 12-122, -123. See Hughes v. State Dept. of Law Enforcement, 129 Idaho 558, 563, 929 P.2d 120, 125 (1996); Dopp v. Idaho Comm'n of Pardons and Parole, 139 Idaho 657, 663, 84 P.3d 593, 599 (Ct.App.2004). Because Dre......
  • Rausch v. POCATELLO LUMBER COMPANY, INC., No. 24782.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Idaho
    • November 16, 2000
    ...one defendant for the share of damages allocable to the fault of another defendant or nonparty tortfeasor. See, e.g., Hughes v. State, 129 Idaho 558, 563, 929 P.2d 120, 125 (1996); Le'Gall v. Lewis County, 129 Idaho 182, 184-85, 923 P.2d 427, 429-30 A different subsection of the same statut......
  • Empire Lumber Co. v. Thermal-Dynamic Towers, Inc., THERMAL-DYNAMIC
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • November 30, 1998
    ...The cases cited by TDT, however, are cases in which the Court was determining liability under tort theories. Hughes v. State of Idaho, 129 Idaho 558, 929 P.2d 120 (1996); Vannoy v. Uniroyal Tire Co., 111 Idaho 536, 726 P.2d 648 (1986). We do not find these cases applicable. We agree that if......
  • Sheridan v. ST. LUKE'S REG. MED. CENTER, No. 25810.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • May 22, 2001
    ...available to it; and (3) whether the district court reached its decision by an exercise of reason. Hughes v. State of Id. Dept. of Law, 129 Idaho 558, 561, 929 P.2d 120, 123 (1996) (citing Sun Valley Shopping Center v. Idaho Power, 119 Idaho 87, 94, 803 P.2d 993, 1000 (1991)). This Court's ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Drennon v. Craven, No. 29205.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Idaho
    • August 20, 2004
    ...or pursued frivolously, reasonable attorney fees may be awarded under I.C. §§ 12-122, -123. See Hughes v. State Dept. of Law Enforcement, 129 Idaho 558, 563, 929 P.2d 120, 125 (1996); Dopp v. Idaho Comm'n of Pardons and Parole, 139 Idaho 657, 663, 84 P.3d 593, 599 (Ct.App.2004). Because Dre......
  • Rausch v. POCATELLO LUMBER COMPANY, INC., No. 24782.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Idaho
    • November 16, 2000
    ...one defendant for the share of damages allocable to the fault of another defendant or nonparty tortfeasor. See, e.g., Hughes v. State, 129 Idaho 558, 563, 929 P.2d 120, 125 (1996); Le'Gall v. Lewis County, 129 Idaho 182, 184-85, 923 P.2d 427, 429-30 A different subsection of the same statut......
  • Empire Lumber Co. v. Thermal-Dynamic Towers, Inc., THERMAL-DYNAMIC
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • November 30, 1998
    ...The cases cited by TDT, however, are cases in which the Court was determining liability under tort theories. Hughes v. State of Idaho, 129 Idaho 558, 929 P.2d 120 (1996); Vannoy v. Uniroyal Tire Co., 111 Idaho 536, 726 P.2d 648 (1986). We do not find these cases applicable. We agree that if......
  • Sheridan v. ST. LUKE'S REG. MED. CENTER, No. 25810.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • May 22, 2001
    ...available to it; and (3) whether the district court reached its decision by an exercise of reason. Hughes v. State of Id. Dept. of Law, 129 Idaho 558, 561, 929 P.2d 120, 123 (1996) (citing Sun Valley Shopping Center v. Idaho Power, 119 Idaho 87, 94, 803 P.2d 993, 1000 (1991)). This Court's ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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