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Pearson v. McPhillips

Pearson v. McPhillips, 2016 MT 257 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Shea, J.; Cotter, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in finding McPhillips and Raulston were not joint venturers, and (2) whether the district court erred in finding that the use of a cutting torch is not an inherently dangerous activity.

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

Affirmed

Facts: James Raulston started a scrap metal business in 2012, which involved him collecting scrap metal from landowners in Toole County and selling it. In February 2012, Raulston approached Scott O’Brien, McPhillips’ son-in-law who helps McPhillips manage her property, and asked if he could remove scrap metal from McPhillips’ property and sell it. O’Brien gave Raulston permission on the condition that Raulston give O’Brien 35% of the proceeds.…

Citizens for a Better Flathead v. Bd. of County Comm’rs

Citizens for a Better Flathead v. Bd. of County Comm’rs, 2016 MT 256 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in striking Citizens’ expert report; (2) whether the district court erred in determining that the Commission substantially complied with the growth policy; (3) whether the district court erred in determining the Commission allowed meaningful public participation; (4) whether the district court erred in determining the Commission adequately incorporated public comments into its decision-making process; and (5) whether the final clause in part 6 of the revised growth policy survives constitutional scrutiny.

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

Affirmed

Facts: The Flathead County Commission adopted the original Flathead County Growth Policy in March 2007.…

Schweitzer v. City of Whitefish

Schweitzer v. City of Whitefish, 2016 MT 254 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by granting summary judgment on the basis of claim preclusion.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Warren Schweitzer and Ingela Schnittger (Owners) own two lots in a Whitefish subdivision adjacent to Whitefish Lake, which the city of Whitefish has annexed. Owners have owned the property for several years. In 2005, Owners decided to tear their home down and build a new house. Their plans called for replacing the existing septic tank and drain field. Owners were advised they could hook up to the city water and sewer if their property was annexed into Whitefish. Owners successfully petitioned to be annexed in 2005.…

State v. Spottedbear

State v. Spottedbear, 2016 MT 243 (Oct. 4, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the improper influence statute is unconstitutionally overbroad; (2) whether the state presented sufficient evidence of improper influence; (3) whether the state presented sufficient evidence to convict Spottedbear of criminal trespass; (4) whether the district court properly admitted evidence of Spottedbear’s prior incident with Officer Walker; and (5) whether trial counsel was ineffective.

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

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: In late February 2014, Officer Walker responded to a disturbance between Spottedbear and another customer at Wal-Mart. After speaking to a staff person at the store, Walker told Spottedbear to leave the store.…

Talbot v. WMK-Davis, LLC

Talbot v. WMK-Davis, LLC, 2016 MT 247 (Oct. 4, 2016) (Cotter, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in determining that Montana courts will not conduct a choice of law analysis when determining the validity of a workers’ compensation subrogation lien under Oberson v. Federated Mutual Insur. Co.; and (2) whether the district court erred in grating summary judgment to Talbot.

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

Affirmed

State v. Colburn

State v. Colburn, 2016 MT 246 (Oct. 4, 2016) (Rice, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (5-2, aff’d)

Issue: Whether sufficient evidence supported Colburn’s convictions of attempted sexual abuse of children.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Colburn was a houseguest of his supervisor at the youth center/video store where he volunteered, staying in her converted garage. His supervisor noticed that someone had entered the term “preteen pussy” into a search engine on the video store computer. She texted Colburn to ask if she could use his person computer in the converted garage. He consented, and she found similar terms on that computer. She reported her findings to the police chief, who obtained and executed a search warrant of the garage, removing Colburn’s computer.…

Great Falls Clinic v. Mont. Eighth Jud. Dist. Court

Great Falls Clinic v. Mont. Eighth Jud. Dist. Court, 2016 MT 245 (Oct. 4, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (7-0, petition granted, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act (WDEA) applies to the parties’ relationship.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Lisa Warrington was offered a job at Great Falls Clinic on October 7, 2014, while she was employed by Benefis Hospital. Warrington accepted the offer and gave two weeks’ notice to Benefis. Warrington signed a written employment contract on October 10, with both parties agreeing her employment would begin October 27, 2014. On October 24, Warrington’s last day at Benefis, the clinic called and told Warrington it would not employ her after all.

Warrington sued the clinic for breach of contract, promissory estoppel and bad faith.…

McColl v. Lang

McColl v. Lang, 2016 MT 255 (Oct. 11, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in granting Lang’s motion to exclude certain evidence, and (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in denying McColl’s motion to exclude the testimony of Lang’s expert witness.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Lang is a licensed naturopathic physician. McColl saw Lang in 2012 and discussed a blemish on her nose that she wished to remove. A month later, McColl returned to Lang’s office where he applied black salve, an escharotic agent, to the blemish on McColl’s nose. Lang sent her home with instructions to return. A few days later, McColl returned and Lang reapplied black salve.…

Matter of Estate of McClure

Matter of Estate of McClure, 2016 MT 253 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether widow has an interest in the trust assets, and (2) whether McClure’s children forfeited their interest in the trust.

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

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: Jack McClure and his wife, Dixie, established a revocable living trust in 1993, using a form they obtained from an out-of-state company, which also provided Jack and Dixie with a binder of documents. The trust agreement stated that the trust’s primary purpose was to provide for Jack and Dixie during their lifetimes. It further provided that upon the death of either Jack or Dixie, the living spouse was to divide the trust estate into two more separate trusts – a survivor’s trust, which would continue to be revocable, and a decedent’s trust, which would be irrevocable.…

Wreszien v. State

Wreszien v. State, 2016 MT 242 (Sept. 28, 2016) (Shea, J.) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court correctly concluded that the participants of three public employee retirement plans were not similarly situated; and (2) whether the district court correctly concluded that employer contributions to the DB Trust do not violate substantive due process.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Plaintiffs are state university employees, and must participate in one of three Montana Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) plans: the DB plan, the DC plan, or the University plan. All covered employees participate in the DB plan unless, within one year of hire, they choose to join the DC plan or, if applicable, the University plan.…