SMALL LAWSUIT RESOLUTION ACT
7-1509. Evaluation decision — Trial de novo — Miscellaneous. (1) Within fourteen (14) days following the evaluation, the evaluator shall issue a written, signed decision. The evaluator shall determine all issues raised by the pleadings, including a determination of any damages. The evaluator shall apply the applicable law as it exists; however, neither findings of fact nor conclusions of law shall be required. The decision shall be served on the parties. The evaluator shall file a notice of issuance of the evaluator’s decision with the clerk of the court, together with proof of service of the notice and the decision on the parties. The decision shall not be filed with the clerk of the court. The evaluator’s decision shall not exceed thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000) in total damages to a party. The evaluator’s decision shall not include exemplary or punitive damages. An evaluator may, in addition, award costs and attorney’s fees under the terms of an applicable contract. All other costs and attorney’s fees to which a party is entitled by statute or court rule shall be awarded by the court.
(2) Within twenty-one (21) days after the notice of issuance of the evaluator’s decision has been filed with the clerk of the court, any party may file with the clerk a request for a trial de novo in the district court on all issues of law and fact.
(3) The trial de novo shall proceed as if the evaluation had not occurred. No reference to the evaluation or to the amount of the evaluation decision shall be made to the trial court or the jury during any part of the trial de novo. Discovery taken and recorded statements made during the evaluation process may be used at the trial de novo as provided in the Idaho rules of civil procedure and the Idaho rules of evidence; however, no reference shall be made to the fact that any statement was made in an evaluation proceeding. Any dollar amount sought, demanded or awarded during the evaluation, including the parties’ agreement that for the purposes of the evaluation the claim is limited to thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000), shall be treated as an offer of compromise pursuant to the Idaho rules of evidence and shall not be admissible at trial. Any examination made pursuant to the provisions of section 7-1507(1)(c), Idaho Code, shall be subject to rule 35 of the Idaho rules of civil procedure. Any violation of the provisions of this subsection by a party or its attorney shall be subject to appropriate sanctions by the trial court.
(4) The relief sought at trial shall not be limited by the evaluation; provided however, that judgment for damages of more than thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000), exclusive of costs and fees, may not be entered for a party who has agreed that its claim does not exceed thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000) for the purposes of initiating alternative dispute resolution under this chapter and shall be reduced by the court unless the claimant establishes the applicability of the factors of rule 60 of the Idaho rules of civil procedure. An evaluator may not be called as a witness at the trial de novo.
(5) The trial court shall assess costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and the entire amount of the evaluator’s fee against a party who requests a trial de novo and fails to improve its position at the trial de novo by at least fifteen percent (15%). For purposes of this subsection, "costs and reasonable attorney’s fees" means all attorney’s fees and costs as provided for by statute or court rule incurred after the filing of a request for a trial de novo. In addition, the court shall award all other expert witness fees and expenses in excess of those permitted by statute or rule if the court finds that they were reasonably incurred.
(6) Within twenty-one (21) days following the filing of the request for trial de novo, a party may serve upon the other party(ies) a written offer of compromise. If an offer of compromise is not accepted by the other party(ies) within fourteen (14) days after service thereof, the amount used for determining whether the party requesting the trial de novo has improved its position shall be the amount of the offer of compromise. Neither the evaluator’s decision nor the offer of compromise shall be submitted to the trial court until the verdict or judgment has been rendered in the trial de novo.
(7) The trial court may assess some or all costs and reasonable attorney’s fees against a party who withdraws its request for a trial de novo where the withdrawal is not in conjunction with the acceptance of an offer of compromise.
(8) If no request for trial de novo has been filed at the expiration of twenty-one (21) days following the filing of the evaluator’s notice of decision, a judgment may be presented to the court by any party accompanied by a copy of the evaluator’s decision. If the judgment is in conformity with the evaluator’s decision it shall be entered and shall have the same force and effect as any other judgment in a civil action but shall not be subject to appellate review and may only be set aside pursuant to the provisions of rule 60 of the Idaho rules of civil procedure. An accepted offer of compromise may also be presented to the court to be converted to a judgment.
(9) Except as provided in subsection (5) of this section, the provisions of this chapter do not affect or preclude the application of any other statute or rule regarding fees or costs including, but not limited to, those in title 7 or 12, Idaho Code, section 41-1839, Idaho Code, or the Idaho rules of civil procedure. Awards of damages and of attorney’s fees and costs, when made to opposing parties, shall be set off against one another and judgment shall be entered for the net amount to the party(ies) entitled thereto.
(10) An evaluator may obtain a judgment for his fees and costs in the pending litigation against any party that refuses to pay its share. Judgment shall be obtained by motion to the trial court which shall only be granted after the party failing to pay has had the opportunity to be heard and object.
[7-1509, added 2002, ch. 137, sec. 1, p. 387; am. 2003, ch. 29, sec. 7, p. 110; am. 2019, ch. 187, sec. 1, p. 594.]