Archive | June, 2015

Montana Health Network, Inc. v. Great Falls Orthopedic Associates

Montana Health Network, Inc. v. Great Falls Orthopedic Associates, 2015 MT 186 (June 30, 2015) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the Plan was ambiguous and therefore was properly interpreted against the drafter, MHN; and (2) whether GFOA is entitled to attorneys’ fees on appeal.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) yes.

Summary judgment for GFOA affirmed

Facts: Montana Health Network (MHN) was the sole drafter of a health plan and trust (the Plan), of which it was also the sponsor and trustee. Great Falls Orthopedic Associates (GFOA) and MHN executed an agreement under which GFOA adopted the Plan for purposes of obtaining coverage for its employees. MHN drafted the agreement, which by its terms incorporated the Plan.

The initial term was three years, with automatic two-year renewals.…

Bottrell Family Investments Ltd. Partnership v. Diversified Financial, Inc.

Bottrell Family Investments Ltd. Partnership v. Diversified Financial, Inc., 2015 MT 185 (June 30, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the election of remedies doctrine bars Bottrell’s claim for damages; and (2) whether Bottrell’s action is barred by laches.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) no.

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in Bottrell’s favor and a determination of damages

Facts: In 2006, Defendants were developing software programs for auto dealerships. They entered into an operating agreement with Bottrell to form an LLC that would own and operate the two programs. Bottrell owned 50% of the company and the remaining 50% was split among the Defendants. The agreement had a doomsday clause under which a partner could tell another partner that within 90 days it must elect to sell its interests or buy the invoking partner’s interest for a specified price.…

State v. Pulst

State v. Pulst, 2015 MT 184 (June 30, 2015) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether trial court abused its discretion by admitting evidence of uncharged sexual assault; (2) whether trial court abused its discretion by excluding evidence that victim’s mother observed and photographed bruises on victim several years after sexual assaults; and (3) whether trial court’s written sentence conformed to oral sentence.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; and (3) no, requiring remand for correction.

Affirmed in part and reversed in part

Facts: AB, born in 1988, frequently visited family in Chester when she was a child. Pulst, AB’s uncle, would take AB on drives between the time she was 7 and 11 years old, and sexually assault her.…

Beebe v. Bridger Creek Subdivision

Beebe v. Bridger Creek Subdivision, 2015 MT 183 (June 30, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly granted judgment to Beebe, and (2) whether the district court properly awarded costs and fees to Beebe.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) no.

Judgment affirmed, attorneys’ fees and costs reversed

Facts: Beebe is a member of the subdivision Community Association. He sued for declaratory judgment, alleging the Association bypassed an approval procedure laid out in the covenants and bylaws when it used maintenance funds for constructing a trail adjacent to the subdivision. Beebe argued the project was a capital improvement subject to a special assessment, not a maintenance assessment, and that the Association did not follow the procedure for special assessments.…

Estate of Harris

Estate of Harris, 2015 MT 182 (June 30, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly allowed probate of Dorothea Harris’s estate, and (2) whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to Harris on Contestants’ objections.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, overruling Estate of Taylor, and (2) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Dorothea Harris’s surviving adult children (Contestants) challenge the informal probate initiated by their stepfather, Lincoln Harris, as well as the validity of a will devising to Harris all of the mineral rights from their mother’s estate. Dorothea married Lincoln in 1965 after the death of her first husband, who was the natural father of the three Contestants as well as a fourth child, Theodore, who died in 1997.…

Muir v. Bilderback

Muir v. Bilderback, 2015 MT 181 (June 30, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly dismissed Marie Felton’s objection to civil forfeiture of a Hummer that she co-owned with her son.

Short Answer: No. The police were required to personally serve the summons and petition for forfeiture on Felton.

Reversed and remanded to vacate the forfeiture order with respect to Felton

Facts: Bobby Bilderback is Marie Felton’s son. See 2015 MT 180. Missoula police found Bilderback in Missoula after being contacted by law enforcement in Washington. They executed a search warrant for a Hummer owned by Bilderback and Felton, and found $36,000 in cash and a plastic bag with methamphetamine residue. The Missoula chief of police instituted forfeiture proceedings against the Hummer, the cash, and other items found in the search, alleging they were involved with unlawful drug transactions.…

Muir v. Bilderback

Muir v. Bilderback, 2015 MT 180 (June 30, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d) 

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly denied Bilderback’s motion to suppress; (2) whether the district court properly denied Bilderback’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal service; and (3) whether the district court properly denied Bilderback’s motion for summary judgment.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) yes, and (3) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Washington law enforcement contracted Missoula police in March 2013 for help in finding Bobby Bilderback, who was wanted in Washington in connection with a homicide. Missoula police found and arrested Bilderback and seized his Hummer. Missoula Detective Curtis applied for and received a search warrant for the Hummer, based on an affidavit that incorporated an affidavit from a Washington detective.…

In the Matter of ADT

In the Matter of ADT, 2015 MT 178 (June 30, 2015) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court improperly applied new probationary conditions prior to finding ADT violated the terms of his youth court disposition; and (2) whether the district court properly determined that ADT violated conditions of his youth court disposition.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: ADT was adjudicated a delinquent youth and juvenile offender in February 2012, upon his admission to one count each of sexual assault and sexual intercourse without consent. The most suitable place for ADT to receive sex offender treatment was Pine Hills. However, because ADT was 10 months away from turning 18, and the program normally takes 17-24 months, Youth Court services was concerned he would not be able to complete the program.…

State v. Pingree

State v. Pingree, 2015 MT 187 (June 30, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.; Baker, J., dissenting) (4-2, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in admitting testimony given by Pingree’s wife at an earlier civil order of protection, and (2) whether the error was harmless.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) no.

Reversed

Facts: In September 2012, the Ravalli County Attorney charged Pingree with felony assault with a weapon and misdemeanor partner/family-member assault, alleging Pingree pointed a gun at his wife and fired it to the left of her head. In October 2012, Pingree’s wife, Caroline, sought an order of protection in Butte, where the parties’ dissolution had been filed. Pingree was at the hearing, although without counsel. He testified but did not contest the order.…

State v. McKeever

State v. McKeever, 2015 MT 177 (June 24, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.; McKinnon, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether district court properly denied McKeever’s motion to suppress.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: In December 2012 a police officer stopped McKeever’s car after recognizing him as a person with a suspended driver’s license. The officer noted that McKeever was nervous, trembling, and swallowing frequently. After confirming McKeever’s license was suspended, the officer placed McKeever under arrest. McKeever consented to a search of his vehicle, and a second officer arrived and conducted a pat-down search, which revealed a prescription medication bottle for a drug called Alprazolam in the cuff of McKeever’s pants leg. The label indicated the prescription was for someone else.

One or both of the officers opened the bottle and saw that it contained tissue paper over a few pills.…