It is quite common for a trial court to base a ruling on alternative, independent grounds. It is also quite common for the Idaho Supreme Court to affirm the trial court’s ruling because the appellant fails to challenge one of the alternative grounds. That was the situation in La Bella Vita, LLC v. Shuler et al., 2015 Opinion No. 65 (July 13, 2015). There, the trial court struck supplemental briefing on two independent grounds: first, based on procedure, and second, based on a court order. But on appeal the appellant only challenged the first ground.
The Supreme Court refused to reach the issue: “[T]he Court has repeatedly held that ‘an appellant’s failure to address an independent ground for a grant of summary judgment is fatal to the appeal.’” The Court also explained: “‘[T]he fact that one of the grounds may be in error is of no consequence and may be disregarded if the judgment can be sustained upon one of the other grounds.’”
As noted, it is not uncommon for the Idaho Supreme Court to affirm a trial court on that basis. The Court cited two cases—Weisel v. Beaver Springs Owners Ass’n, Inc., 152 Idaho 519, 525–26, 272 P.3d 491, 497–98 (2012), and Andersen v. Prof’l Escrow Servs., Inc., 141 Idaho 743, 746, 118 P.3d 75, 78 (2005)—in support of its holding, but there are numerous other Idaho decisions that illustrate the absolute importance of challenging each basis of a ruling that is made on alternative, independent grounds.