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Hopkins v. Troutner

134 Idaho 445 (2000)

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Hopkins v. Troutner

Idaho Supreme Court

134 Idaho 445 (2000)

Facts

Joseph Hopkins (plaintiff) sued alleging Arthur Troutner (defendant) physically and sexually abused Hopkins as a child. Attorney Brian Julian defended Troutner. After Hopkins’s attorneys withdrew from the case, Troutner’s representatives contacted Hopkins and gave him Julian’s telephone number. Hopkins called Julian several times trying to negotiate a settlement. Hopkins said he would settle for less than what Troutner offered other claimants who had filed similar cases against him. According to Julian’s affidavit, Hopkins then asked what Julian believed to be the value of the case, and Julian said that in his opinion, the case was worth $3,000 to $4,000. Hopkins nonetheless demanded $6,000. Julian said he needed to get authority to settle for that amount and called the next day offering $5,500, which Hopkins accepted in exchange for a release and stipulation to dismissal with prejudice. After Hopkins cashed the settlement, attorney Karl Shurtliff appeared on Hopkins’s behalf and filed a motion to set aside the release and stipulation for dismissal. The judge granted the motion on the basis of overreaching, specifically finding the two statements Julian made in his affidavit about Hopkins asking him to value the case and his response showed overreaching. The judge explained that if Julian had told Hopkins to form his own opinion of the value of his case or find someone else to give an opinion, the outcome would be different, but Hopkins had asked, “What’s this case worth?” The judge reasoned that under those circumstances, Julian should have believed Hopkins would rely on Julian’s answer. Troutner appealed. Meanwhile, Hopkins had not returned the $5,500 despite the judge ordering him to do so.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Trout, C.J.)

Dissent (Schroeder, J.)

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