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Judge dismisses lawsuit involving District 91, Rockwell Homes

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A lawsuit involving this plot of land west of Taylorview Middle School was dismissed in June 2020. | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

IDAHO FALLS — A lawsuit that claimed Idaho Falls School District 91 participated in an illegal land swap has been dismissed.

Local attorney Joshua Chandler filed the suit against the district, its school board, and developer Rockwell Homes in May 2019. It claimed the school district engaged in an illegal real estate transaction with Rockwell Homes by never putting the land it sold to the developer up for public bid.

RELATED: Lawsuit claims school district sold land illegally

District 91 sold land west of Taylorview Middle School to Rockwell Homes. In exchange, Rockwell gave the school district land near the intersection of South Holmes Avenue and 65th South along with $263,000. The transaction was approved by the school board in Jan. 2019.

In May 2019, Chandler said he and the others in the neighborhood did not know the land had been sold until some residents received a notice that Rockwell Homes had filed a plat proposal with the city of Idaho Falls.

A month later, Chandler filed a lawsuit claiming he wanted to buy the land and develop it for housing but didn’t get the opportunity.

District Judge Steven Boyce dismissed Chandler’s case in June 2020, saying that Chandler did not have the legal right to bring the case and made no claim that the court could adjudicate.

“Boyce also entered a judgment against Chandler, finding that the suit was filed frivolously and unreasonably, requiring that he reimburse District 91 and Rockwell Homes for a total of $107,495 in attorneys’ fees and costs,” according to a news release from Thomsen Holman Wheiler, a law firm representing Rockwell Homes.

Chandler disagreed with the judge’s decision and filed an appeal to the suit. Both parties eventually agreed to resolve the case in a separate settlement, the news release says. Chandler is paying Rockwell and District 91 an undisclosed amount of money and has agreed to never bring any legal action against Rockwell in the future.

Rockwell and the school district are now able to use the exchanged lands as they agreed to last year.

“We think Judge Boyce’s decision dismissing the case followed the law and was appropriate,” Scott Marotz, an attorney representing District 91, tells EastIdahoNews.com. “Having it fully resolved and not having an appeal is in the best interest of the district and all the parties.”

Chandler declined to comment on the lawsuit dismissal and settlement.

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