Archive | April, 2016

State v. Crawford

State v. Crawford, 2016 MT 96 (April 26, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Crawford’s motion to suppress; (2) whether Crawford received ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) whether the district court improperly denied Crawford’s third discovery request; (4) whether the district court erred by denying Crawford’s post-trial motion to dismiss; and (5) whether the district court adequately addressed Crawford’s complaints about his assigned counsel.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; (3) no; (4) no; and (5) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Crawford was released on parole in December 2010 after incarceration at Montana State Prison for multiple drug-related felony convictions. As a condition of his parole, he was required to obtain written permission from his parole officer before traveling outside of Silver Bow, Beaverhead, Jefferson or Deer Lodge counties.…

In re Eldorado Coop Canal Co.

In re Eldorado Coop Canal Co., 2016 MT 94 (April 26, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the Water Court correctly concluded that the cumulative volume of water Eldorado may divert from the Teton River for the Eldorado, Truchot, Dennis, and Beattie rights is no more than 15,000 acre-feet per year; (2) whether the Water Court erred in choosing not to assign separate volume limits for each of Eldorado’s four sets of combined irrigation and stockwater rights for the Eldorado, Truchot, Dennis, and Beattie rights; and (3) whether the Water Court erred in limiting the flow rate of the Truchot right to 300 miner’s inches rather than 225 miner’s inches.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) no; and (3) no.…

Ray v. Connell

Ray v. Connell, 2016 MT 95 (April 26, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in granting Connell summary judgment on Ray’s defamation claim based on a conversation between Connell and Ronquillo; (2) whether the district court erred in granting Connell summary judgment on Ray’s defamation claim based on comments Connell made at two Billings City Council meetings; and (3) whether the district court erred in granting Connell summary judgment on Ray’s claims of tortious interference and general damages based on Connell’s alleged defamation of Ray’s character.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; and (3) no.

Affirmed

Facts: Ray and Connell are real estate agents who own land in the East Billings Urban Revitalization District (EBURD).…

In re the Parenting of CJ

In re the Parenting of CJ, 2016 MT 93 (April 20, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the evidence supported the district court’s finding that mother did not interfere with father’s relationship with child, and (2) whether the district court erred in holding that father had a “heavy burden” to show that his proposed restriction on mother’s relocation to Vermont was consistent with the best interests of their child.

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

Affirmed

Facts: CJ was born to Matthew and Stevi in 2012. Stevi is married to Tom, and the couple has a minor child. Matthew lives in Livingston with his partner, who was pregnant with the couple’s child at the time of the final parenting plan hearing.…

Employers Mutual Casualty Co. v. Fisher Builders, Inc.

Employers Mutual Casualty Co. v. Fisher Builders, Inc., 2016 MT 91 (April 19, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Did the district court err in concluding the alleged acts and their consequences were not an “occurrence” under the policy; and (2) whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Employers Mutual Casualty (EMC).

Short Answer: (1) Yes, clarifying previous precedent; and (2) yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Jerry and Karen Slack have owned a vacation home on Flathead Lake since 1969. In 2007, the Slacks hired Fisher Builders to build a remodeled home that would serve as the Slacks’ year-round residence. In order to maintain the home’s status as an acceptable non-conforming property use under Lake County zoning laws, the remodeled home had to incorporate the existing structure.…

Asarco, LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Co.

Asarco, LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 2016 MT 90 (April 12, 216) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court correctly held that claim preclusion bars Asarco’s claims.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Atlantic Richfield (AR) sold a zinc fuming plant and related property in East Helena to Asarco in 1972. In the sales agreement, AR agreed to indemnify Asarco for liabilities arising out of AR’s operations at the site, and to deliver all relevant documents to Asarco. It also represented and warranted that it had delivered all information required by the disclosure clause.

In 1984, the property and surrounding area were designated a Superfund site under CERCLA. The EPA identified both AR and Asarco as potentially responsible parties, ultimately determining that Asarco was obligated to pay for the cleanup.…

Mashek v. Dept. of Public Health & Human Svcs.

Mashek v. Dept. of Public Health & Human Svcs., 2016 MT 86 (April 12, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the hearing officer and district court erred in holding that the statutory Broadband Pay Plan factors preempt the collective bargaining process.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed

Facts: Plaintiffs are compliance specialists for the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) of DPHHS, pay band 6, employed by the state and belonging to MEA-MFT Local 4573. The collective bargaining agreements to which 4573 and the state are parties have two-year terms beginning on July 1 of odd years and ending on June 30 two years later. In May 2011, while Local 4573 was negotiating for the 2011-2013 contract period, plaintiffs filed a complaint against the department alleging that their pay was not “internally equitable” in comparison with pay band 6 compliance specialists in other state agencies, in violation of § 2-18-301(4), MCA.…

In re the Parenting of MMK

In re the Parenting of MMK, 2016 MT 81 (April 5, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly concluded that Montana is an inconvenient forum for determining whether Ambrose has a parental interest in MMK under § 40-7-108, MCA.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: MMK was born in Great Falls in 2011. Her father has not been involved in her life. When MMK was one, her mother, Kutil, executed a six-month power of attorney in favor of Ambrose, and gave MMK to Ambrose for temporary care. When the power of attorney expired, Kutil and Ambrose disagreed about who should have custody of MMK, and Ambrose refused to return the child. In June 2013 Kutil regained physical custody of MMK from Ambrose with the help of volunteer attorneys, law enforcement, and DPHHS.…

Fenwick v. State Dept. of Military Affairs

Fenwick v. State Dept. of Military Affairs, Disaster & Emerg. Svcs. Div., 2016 MT 80 (April 5, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly held the severance agreement was lawful; (2) whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment when Fenwick claims her consent to the severance agreement was given under duress, undue influence, etc.; (3) whether the district court properly held that the consideration for the agreement did not fail; (4) whether the district court properly dismissed Fenwick’s constitutional claims; and (5) whether the district court properly denied summary judgment to the department on Fenwick’s claims for intentional interference and bad faith.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) this issue was not raised below and is waived; (3) yes; (4) the Court does not reach this issue as any error would be harmless; and (5) having failed to file across-appeal, the department has waived appellate review of this issue.…