BOISE, Idaho (Legal Newsline) – On Jan. 19, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated a lower court's dismissal of a slip-and-fall lawsuit against Snake River Peterson Properties by Geralyn Gallagher.
case was filed in 2014 after Gallagher “sustained
injuries after she fell on a wet floor of the Best Western Cottontree Inn,” as
noted in the court's opinion, authored by Justice Joel Horton.
Gallagher filed her initial complaint against the owner of
the Best Western Cottontree Inn, which at the time she thought was L&L
Legacy Limited Partnership. She thought this partnership was the owner because
she completed a search through the Secretary of State’s database.
L&L was in fact not the owner, as Snake River had already purchased the
property and was in operation when Gallagher allegedly slipped. When she learned that information, she filed an amended complaint, adding Snake River as a defendant.
tried to serve L&L's Scott Eskelson; however, Eskelson
would not accept because
was no longer the owner.
River was introduced to the case on April 9, 2015, and in that same year on June
4, L&L was relieved from the case with prejudice.
defense, Snake River filed for summary judgment on statute-of-limitations grounds, and Gallagher appealed.
The Supreme Court recognized Gallagher’s amendment “did not
relate back to the date she filed her original complaint and that the statute
of limitations was not tolled due to Snake River’s failure to file a
certificate of assumed business name with the Secretary of State.”
Both parties involved did recognize that Snake
River did indeed neglect its business duties “to file a certificate
of assumed business name with the Secretary of State's office.”
Horton wrote, “The district court
found that because Gallagher's only search was of the Secretary of State's
database, Gallagher did not exercise reasonable diligence in ascertaining the
proper party.” Because of this, the Supreme Court “declined to toll the
statute of limitations.”
the court “found
that the amended complaint did not relate back under Idaho Rule of Civil
Procedure 15(c) because Snake River was unaware of the pendency of the lawsuit
at the time of the expiration of the statute of limitations.”
conclusion, the court ruled that Gallagher “could amend her complaint to assert
the statutory cause of action."