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Sallaz v. Rice

384 P.3d 987 (2016)

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Sallaz v. Rice

Idaho Supreme Court

384 P.3d 987 (2016)

Facts

Dennis J. Sallaz (plaintiff) was an attorney who obtained what evidence indicated was a loan from his friend and client Eugene Rice (defendant) in 1991. Sallaz disputed that there was a loan, but he provided Rice with a lien on his 1954 Cadillac Eldorado, which was noted on the certificate of title for the car. There was no evidence that the agreement between the parties included any specific time for repayment or required a demand to be made before the underlying obligation became due. Further, there was no evidence that Sallaz ever repaid the loan. In 2011, Rice had the vehicle repossessed by his son Michael (defendant). Later that year, Sallaz filed suit against Rice, Rice’s wife, and Rice’s son, requesting possession of the Cadillac or $75,000 in damages for conversion. Conversion would mean that Rice improperly took Sallaz’s property, but if Rice had a valid right of repossession due to nonpayment, then Rice’s actions would not constitute conversion. Sallaz also argued that the debt was time-barred because of Idaho’s four-year statute of limitations for oral contracts. At trial, Sallaz moved for a directed verdict, but the trial court denied the motion and the jury returned a special verdict, finding that Sallaz had failed to prove his claim for conversion. Sallaz appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Eismann, J.)

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