Statutory Interpretation

On January 25, 2023, the Court issued a substitute opinion in Easterling v. HAL Pacific Properties. The decision, which was decided 3-2, provides insights into the Court’s views on statutory interpretation and construction. It also addresses actions that fall within Idaho’s catch-all statute of limitations, Idaho Code § 5-224.

The facts. The case concerns landlocked parcels owned by the Easterlings. The Easterlings sued an adjacent landowner, Hal Pacific Properties (“HAL”), claiming an easement by necessity over HAL’s property. The trial court mostly ruled in the Easterlings’ favor on summary judgment and at a bench trial. The trial court rejected HAL’s affirmative defense that the Easterlings’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations set forth in Idaho Code § 5-224, and held that the Easterlings were entitled to an easement by necessity over HAL’s property and set the location and width of the easement. HAL appealed.

The issues. The decision largely centered on whether the catch-all statute of limitations of Section 5-224 applies to an easement by necessity claim. Section 5-224 provides: “An action for relief not hereinbefore provided for must be commenced within four (4) years after the cause of action shall have accrued.” HAL argued that a plain reading of the statute requires its application to an easement by necessity claim, while the Easterlings argued the statute was inapplicable because the claim cannot be time barred. If Section 5-224 does apply to an easement by necessity claim, the issue turned to the accrual of the claim.Continue Reading Idaho Supreme Court Update: Idaho’s catch-all statute of limitations revokes any common law rule that a claim cannot be time barred

On January 6, 2023, the Idaho Supreme Court issued its decision in Katseanes v. Katseanes. The decision addresses the enforceability of a trial court’s oral rulings and appellate review of criminal sanctions for contempt of court.

The facts. As part of a property settlement in a divorce, Jeff agreed to pay spousal support, which

Angle v Board of Dentistry, No. A162472, decided by the Oregon Court of Appeals on October 17, 2018, is a statutory interpretation case about nonresponsive responses.

ORS 679.170(6) provides that no person shall “fail to respond” to a written request from the Board of Dentistry for information.  Does a “nonresponsive” reply count as a failure to respond?  In this case, the Oregon Court of Appeals decides that just saying something is not sufficient to comply with ORS 679.170(6).  Instead, responses must be responsive.  According to the court, telling the board to go fly a kite or writing a letter about the history of Rome will not pass muster.  However, a “curt and not overly helpful” response may work.Continue Reading Can an Orthodontist Tell the Oregon Board of Dentistry to Go Fly a Kite? Not Under ORS 679.170(6)

In Arzola v. Name Intelligence, Inc. (pdf), the Washington Court of Appeals concluded that payments due to employees under a stock right cancellation agreement did not constitute “wages” as that term is used in Washington’s wage-withholding statute (RCW 49.52.070) because the payments were not for the employees’ services but rather for relinquishment of shares.  It so held even though the underlying stock was expressly provided to the employees based on job performance.  The court’s holding allows employers to convert consideration paid to employees in lieu of cash wages into a separate and distinct contractual right and thereby avoid liability under the wage-withholding statute.
Continue Reading Wash. Ct. of Appeals: Employee Wages Do Not Include Contractual Rights to Company Stock