Idaho SC affirms arbitrator's decision

Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 6, 2010, 2:51pm


BOISE, Idaho (Legal Newsline) - The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld an arbitration award of more than $15,000, affirming a lower court decision in favor of a bank that claimed it was owed nearly as much by a delinquent cardholder.

The Court, in an opinion filed Monday, affirmed the judgment of a district court, awarding MBNA America Bank costs, but not attorneys fees, on appeal.

The cardholder, David F. Capps, entered into a credit card agreement with MBNA, now known as FIA Card Services.

Capps did not make payments due under the credit card agreement, forcing the bank to seek an award against him in the sum of $15,448.35.

Capps immediately took action against the bank, contending there was no agreement to arbitrate and that by obtaining the arbitration award the bank had committed fraud, negligence and a violation of his civil rights. He claimed that the bank's actions entitled him to damages in the sum of $25,000.

The bank answered and counterclaimed, seeking a judgment in the amount of the arbitration award. On May 19, 2008, the bank filed a motion for summary judgment on its damages claims. The bank claimed $12,459.74 was owed to them and that they had received no payments since Dec. 6, 2004.

The bank contended it was entitled to summary judgment for breach of contract under the original credit agreement and for breach of contract based on Capps' failure to object to the monthly credit statements.

In response, Capps filed a document listing various grounds upon which he opposed the bank's motion for summary judgment.

The cardholder also filed a motion to permit him to amend his discovery responses so that the bank's requests for admissions would not be deemed admitted due to his failure to respond.

The district court granted that motion, and Capps then filed responses to the discovery.

The bank's motion for summary judgment was heard on June 26, 2008. In its decision granting the motion for summary judgment, the district court held that the documents attached to the cardholder's affidavit were inadmissible and that his various defenses were therefore "unsupported by any evidence."

Months later, in August, Capps filed a motion for reconsideration. He also filed a motion for a continuance to obtain affidavits to establish his defenses. He also filed a supplemental motion to continue, a motion to admit a pooling agreement, and a motion to vacate the summary judgment.

The bank, meanwhile, had filed a motion to dismiss Capps' claims that were based upon the arbitration award. It contended "there was no need" to seek judicial confirmation of that award after the court had granted their motion for summary judgment and that the cardholder had not suffered any damages from the existence of the award because it could be enforced only if it was judicially confirmed.

The district court granted Capps' motion for reconsideration to the extent that its grant of the bank's motion for summary judgment was based upon the breach of an account stated. The district court denied Capps' motion for a continuance, holding that the motion was untimely because it was not made prior to the granting of the bank's motion for summary judgment. It also dismissed the cardholder's claims against the bank, holding that Capps had not suffered any injury from the arbitration award where it had not been judicially confirmed.

The court entered judgment in favor of the bank against Capps in the amount of $19,844.24 for damages, attorneys fees and court costs, and Capps appealed.

Chief Justice Daniel T. Eismann, who authored the Court's opinion, wrote that the district court did not err in granting the bank's motion for summary judgment.

"(The) cardholder does not point to any sworn statement creating a genuine issue of material fact as to the amount owing on his credit card account," Eismann wrote.

The Court said Capps did not show that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to hold the bank in contempt for "allegedly failing to provide adequate answers to the discovery ordered."

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