State of Idaho v. Grathol, 2015 Opinion No. 17 (Feb. 11, 2015) provides guidance to appellate practitioners on when an award of attorney fees on appeal may be allowed under Idaho Code § 12-121. Grathol is an eminent domain case. An issue on appeal was whether the Idaho Transportation Department, as the condemnor, was entitled to attorney fees on appeal under Idaho Code § 12-121. In condemnation cases, condemnors can recover attorney fees only if three elements are met. One element that must be met is the standard controlling an award of fees under Idaho Code § 12-121: the claims must have been brought, pursued or defended frivolously, unreasonably or without foundation.

That standard usually sets a high hurdle for an award of attorney fees on appeal. But in Grathol, the Court found the condemnee’s appeal was unreasonable. Among other things, the Court noted that the condemnee’s arguments were false and misleading, did not conform to well-established Idaho law, did not show that the facts of the case warranted any extension of Idaho law, and asked the Court to simply reweigh the evidence. Grathol should apply outside of the condemnation context and offers guidance on the circumstances that justify attorney fees on appeal under the Idaho Code § 12-121.