Judge dismisses $21 million lawsuit involving city of Pocatello - East Idaho News

Judge dismisses $21 million lawsuit involving city of Pocatello

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POCATELLO — District Judge Robert Naftz has ordered the dismissal of a $21 million lawsuit after a legal response from the plaintiff was filed late.

The Rupp Family Trust and Rupp Revocable Living Trust filed suit against the city of Pocatello and two development companies — Millennial Development Partners and Portneuf Builders — in 2022. The lawsuit involves access to land.

Court records show that the defendants — which included the city of Pocatello — requested a summary judgement on March 8. A hearing regarding that motion was set for April 17, meaning all responses from the plaintiffs had to be filed by April 3.

Because the plaintiffs — which include the Rupp Family Trust — did not file their response until April 12, Naftz took the defense’s motion as uncontested.

On May 24, Naftz ordered the case dismissed.

“… (T)his court determined that summary of judgement in favor of the defendants must be entered as the plaintiffs failed to meet their burden pursuant to Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure,” Naftz’s order reads.

RELATED | Local family files $21 million lawsuit against the city of Pocatello, others

What the lawsuit says

In their lawsuit, the Rupps claimed that the city of Pocatello, Millennial and Portneuf landlocked their 930-acre parcel of land — which surrounds Northgate Parkway — by refusing to provide access to the land on either side of Northgate Parkway. With no access to the land, Rupp family trustee Lavelle Rupp told EastIdahoNews.com that the trust has been unable to develop or sell land.

“The Rupp Family Trust planned to devote a portion of its legacy land, approximately 380 acres, toward commercial development along the interstate as well as to construct affordable housing,” a tort claim filed in advance of the lawsuit stated.

“This whole project up here, with the way it was done, has cost this community well over 3,000 jobs,” Rupp said.

“The city hasn’t stolen their land — it’s stolen their rights,” Rupp attorney Nathan Olsen told EastIdahoNews.com in October 2021. “The Rupps are simply trying to retake their rights to access the property.”

The Rupps sold a 150-foot wide strip of land connecting I-15 to Olympus Drive to Portneuf and Millennial. That strip of land became Northgate Parkway.

But part of the sales agreement, Rupp said, required an intersection giving the Rupps access to their land — which is on both sides of the parkway. That easement was never provided, Rupp said.

Even after the state ordered a 40-foot intersection be installed on both sides, Rupp continued, the city of Pocatello provided only a 25 foot-wide cutout in the curb.

Through the lawsuit, the Rupps were pursuing $21 million — the amount the lawsuit claimed the family lost when it became unable to sell the land.

Court proceedings

On March 8, attorneys for the defendants requested summary judgement — a determination made by the judge without the need for trial.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs opposed that request.

Naftz set April 17 as the date when he would file an order regarding the motion.

According to Idaho law, any response to the motion must be filed at least 14 days before the hearing date — which would have been April 3. But the response was not filed until April 12 — less than one week before the hearing.

With no legal response to the defendants’ motion, Naftz granted the motion for summary judgement. He then ordered the case dismissed.