APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Nineteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Lincoln, Cause No. DV 11-280 Honorable James B. Wheelis, Presiding Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Patricia Cotter
Submitted on Briefs: June 27, 2012
Decided: September 5, 2012
Justice Patricia O. Cotter delivered the Opinion of the Court.
¶1 Micheal Hicks appeals the Nineteenth Judicial District Court's order awarding damages in the amount of $616.33 plus costs to Anthony Varano. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
¶2 The dispute between Varano and Hicks arose following a snowmobiling trip in Lincoln County. Varano allowed Hicks to borrow his snowmobile. The parties dispute the events that occurred during their outing.
¶3 On March 29, 2011, Varano filed a complaint in Lincoln County Justice Court alleging that Hicks caused $2,681.58 in damage to his snowmobile. A bench trial was held on October 26, 2011. The Justice Court determined that Hicks agreed to pay Varano for the gasoline and oil he used. Since the snowmobile trip took place more than two years prior to the case being heard, and the only evidence of the alleged damage was an estimate for repairs dated a year after the incident in question, the Justice Court declined to award any sum to compensate Varano for damages to the snowmobile. The Justice Court awarded Varano the gasoline and oil costs and his court costs. Varano appealed the Justice Court's decision.
¶4 The Nineteenth Judicial District Court held a bench trial on December 28, 2011. Both parties represented themselves at trial. Both parties testified and were questioned by the judge. Varano testified that when Hicks borrowed his snowmobile, Hicks agreed to fix any damage he caused while using it. Varano further testified that Hicks drove the snowmobile off the road and hit a tree. Following the accident, Varano requested $500 to cover the damages. According to Varano, Hicks agreed to pay the $500, but then left town and avoided payment. Hicks testified that he only agreed to pay Varano $25 to cover gasoline, but Varano demanded more and more money when no payment was made. Hicks eventually took out a restraining order to prevent Varano from approaching him and demanding payment.
¶5 On January 4, 2012, the District Court entered its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order. The District Court determined that Varano had loaned his snowmobile to Hicks on the condition that Hicks would pay for the cost of gasoline and would be responsible for any potential costs of repair. The District Court found that Hicks damaged the snowmobile by running it off an embankment. The District Court concluded that after agreeing to the sum of $500 for the repairs, Hicks failed to pay the agreed-upon amount and had not paid for gasoline or oil. Neither party presented testimony by a qualified mechanic that would have allowed the District Court to determine the amount of damages or the cause of the damages. Based on its findings, the District Court ordered Hicks to pay the $500 pursuant to the oral contract, $116.33 as the reasonable cost of gasoline and oil consumed during the outing, and the costs of the lawsuit. Hicks appeals.
¶6 A restatement of the issue on appeal is whether the District Court's decision on the judgment amount and the existence of an enforceable contract between ...