Archive | July, 2016

Estate of Woody v. Big Horn County

Estate of Woody v. Big Horn County, 2016 MT 180 (July 26, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in holding that the estate’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Kenneth Woody IV was killed on December 16, 2011 after the vehicle in which he was a passenger crashed, following a high-speed chase by a Big Horn County sheriff’s deputy. On September 11, 2014, Woody’s estate submitted a claim letter to the county, seeking $750,000 for wrongful death and survivorship damages. The letter informed the county it had 120 days to resolve the claim without litigation. The county commissioners acknowledged receipt on September 15, 2014, but never responded.…

Kelly v. Teton Prairie, LLC

Kelly v. Teton Prairie, LLC, 2016 MT 179 (July 26, 2016) (Wheat, J.; Rice, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court correctly applied the prior appropriation doctrine; (2) whether the district court correctly found that Teton Prairie failed to establish the elements of the futile call doctrine; and (3) whether the district court erred in issuing an injunction.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Each of the Kelly appellees (“Kelly”) owns property in Choteau County, where they have farms and ranches. Teton Prairie owns property in Teton County, upstream of Kelly on the Teton River. Kelly’s water rights are primarily for stockwater, with some for domestic use. Teton Prairie’s water rights are for irrigation, and are junior to all of Kelly’s rights.…

State v. Brave

State v. Brave, 2016 MT 178 (July 26, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in ordering Brave to pay $25,000 in restitution, and (2) whether the district court erred in imposing several probation conditions.

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

Affirmed (1) and reversed (2)

Facts: The state charged Brave with sexual intercourse without consent on the basis of his having committed the offense with AC, who then became pregnant and gave birth to twins. At the time of the offense, Brave was 18 and AC was 14. In May 2014, Brave pled guilty to an amended charge of criminal endangerment, a felony.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The district court held a restitution hearing in September 2014, and a sentencing hearing in November 2014, after which it issued a restitution order ordering Brave to pay $35,667.36 to AC’s mother, DC, which included $25,000 for DC’s lost wages during a 10-week FLA leave of absence that she took after the twins were born.…

State v. Kline

State v. Kline, 2016 MT 177 (July 19, 2016) (McKinnon, J.; Baker, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in concluding SK was not legally accountable for Kline’s incest, and (2) whether sufficient evidence corroborated SK’s testimony.

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

Affirmed

Facts: The state charged Kline with criminal distribution of drugs, endangering the welfare of children, and incest, all felonies, in December 2013. According to the information, Kline committed these offenses by giving methamphetamine to SK, his daughter, allowing SK to ingest meth while in his care, and having sexual intercourse or sexual contact with SK.…

In re the Marriage of Wagenman

In re the Marriage of Wagenman, 2016 MT 176 (July 19, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Tammy’s Rule 60(b) motion to amend the final decree of dissolution, and (2) whether the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to Matt.

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

Reversed and remanded 

Facts: Matt and Tammy Wagenman married in 1996, and jointly petitioned for dissolution in 2012, each appearing pro se. They have no children, and used the self-help dissolution forms approved by the Court. In the “real property” section of the petition, they indicated they own their marital home in Shepherd. In another section of the petition, they stated the real property should be distributed as described in Exhibit A, which was attached to the petition.…

Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip

Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip, 2016 MT 175 (July 19, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Colstrip’s motion for judgment as a matter of law when Reinlasoder did not dispute that he had sexually harassed an employee.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment for Colstrip

Facts: Colstrip discharged Reinlasoder from his position as Colstrip’s chief of police in May 2012, a position he had held since May 2004. Reinlasoder sued Colstrip for wrongful discharge, and Colstrip answered that it had fired him for good cause. Colstrip alleged numerous instances of misconduct, including pornographic emails, lying on his job application, insubordinate conduct, intimidating a female dispatcher, and sexually harassing a female dispatcher.…

In the Matter of CC

In the Matter of CC, 2016 MT 174 (July 19, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in failing to provide a detailed statement of facts justifying CC’s involuntary commitment.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: In September 2014, the Lincoln County Attorney petitioned the district court for an order of involuntary commitment, alleging CC suffered from a mental disorder requiring commitment. A mental health professional form the Western Montana Mental Health Center requested the petition be filed, asserting that CC posed an imminent danger to herself and others. The district court issued an order finding probable cause and appointing an attorney, a statutory friend, and a professional person. Upon request by her attorney, CC was examined by a professional person of her own choosing.…

Parker v. Safeco Insurance Co.

Parker v. Safeco Insurance Co., 2016 MT 173 (July 19, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in construing Parker’s insurance policy as excluding coverage for damage caused by a large rock falling down a hillside into Parker’s cabin. 

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed 

Facts: In March 2014, a large boulder dislodged from a hillside and fell down the hill into Parker’s unoccupied cabin, causing substantial damage. Parker submitted a claim to his insurer, Safeco.…

State v. Rickett

State v. Rickett, 2016 MT 168 (July 12, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion by requiring Rickett to wear a leg brace during trial.

Short Answer: Yes, but it was not a structural error, and there was no reasonable possibility the defendant was prejudiced.

Affirmed

Facts: In July 2012 the state charged Rickett with aggravated kidnapping, burglary, intimidation, and escape based on its contention that he escaped a pre-release center, and kidnapped his former foster mother to gain access to the safe at a Bozeman restaurant where she worked as a bookkeeper.

The district court held a trial over three days in February 2014. Rickett appeared in person wearing street clothes with a leg brace on his right leg underneath his pants.…

Low v. Reick

Low v. Reick, 2016 MT 167 (July 12, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that Reicks’ lot is encumbered by a single easement, the existing road, measured 10 feet from each side of the road’s centerline; (2) whether the district court erred by holding Low lacked authority to sign an application for a permit to improve Reicks’ lakeshore property; (3) whether the district court erred by concluding the maintenance agreement is unenforceable against Reicks for lack of consideration; (4) whether the district court erred in holding that Reicks did not breach the maintenance agreement; (5) whether the district court erred by concluding Low breached the road detour agreement, and awarding damages to Reicks; (6) whether the district court erred by concluding Reicks did not convert Low’s fill material; and (7) whether the district court erred in ordering Low to pay Reicks’ attorney’s fees and costs arising from their counterclaim.…