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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.…

Martinell v. Bd. of County Comm’rs of Carbon County

Martinell v. Bd. of County Comm’rs of Carbon County, 2016 MT 136 (June 7, 2016) (Rice, J.; Cotter, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by holding that the Carbon County commissioners acted arbitrarily in waiving compliance with county resolution zoning requirements; (2) whether the protest provision in the Part 1 zoning statute, § 76-2-101(5), MCA, is unconstitutional; and (3) whether the Carbon County commissioners’ reliance on the Part 1 protest provision render their decision unlawful. 

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) the Court declines to reach this issue; and (3) the Court declines to reach this issue.

Affirmed

Facts: Appellants are a group of private landowners (“Landowners”) in Carbon County who initiated a petition to establish a Part 1 zoning district pursuant to § 76-2-101, MCA.…

Wicklund v. Sundheim

Wicklund v. Sundheim, 2016 MT 62 (March 9, 2016) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly admitted the testimony of an English professor interpreting the language of the warranty deed’s royalty interest reservation; (2) whether the district court erred by resolving the ambiguity in the 1953 warrant deed in favor of Sundheims; and (3) whether the district court improperly applied the doctrine of laches to deny Teisingers’ claim to the 3/5 royalty interest.

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

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in Teisingers’ favor

Facts: In 1953, Teisingers conveyed several sections of real property to Sundheims by warranty deed, and included language reserving “three-fifths (3/5ths) of Land owners [sic] oil, gas and mineral royalties and three-fifths (3/5ths) of any and all delay rentals on present and existing oil and gas leases now of record against the lands herein described,” subject to “such oil and gas leases” and any assignments of record.…

State v. Kant

State v. Kant, 2016 MT 42 (Feb. 23, 2016) (Cotter, J., for the majority; Shea, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Kant’s motion to suppress and dismiss.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Bradley Kant and his wife, Crystal, had registered caregiver’s licenses under the Montana Marijuana Act allowing them to grow and distribute marijuana in accordance with the law. Upon expiration of their licenses they did not renew them, but continued growing and distributing marijuana.…

Conservatorship of JS, KS, & RS

Conservatorship of JS, KS, & RS, 2015 MT 335 (Dec. 3, 2015) (Cotter, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion in appointing a GAL to determine whether litigation of the minor children’s claims against their father and their father’s business from a car accident that kicked their mother is in the children’s best interests.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Jennifer Soule was killed in 2012 when she and Michael were driving on the interstate, their car rolled, and both were ejected. Michael was charged with vehicular homicide while under the influence, but does not remember who was driving. The charges were eventually dropped due to police misconduct, loss or destruction of evidence, and violations of Michael’s constitutional rights.…

Reis v. Luckett

Reis v. Luckett, 2015 MT 337 (Dec. 2, 2015) (Cotter, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in granting Reis’s motion for a new trial.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Scott Reis and Austin Luckett were in a serious three-car accident in February 2010. Luckett admitted liability. Later that day, Reis claimed he began to experience neck and back pain as well as pain in his left hand little finger. Over the next several months, Reis sought treatment from a family nurse practitioner as well as a chiropractor, pain specialist, and orthopedist.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The district court held a jury trial in December 2014 and the jury found Luckett’s negligence did not cause Reis’s injuries.…

Roose v. Lincoln County Employee Group Health Plan

Roose v. Lincoln County Employee Group Health Plan, 2015 MT 324 (Nov. 17, 2015) (Wheat, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in certifying the proposed class; and (2) if the class was properly certified, whether the district court abused its discretion by defining the class over broadly.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Kent Roose was severely injured in a car accident in October 2007. The other driver, Stearns, was killed in the accident; his negligence is undisputed. Stearns’ liability insurance carrier tendered the limit of its coverage to Roose, and Stearns’ estate also paid Roose; however, these payments did not cover Roose’s $320,000 medical bill from Kalispell Regional Hospital.…

In re Vaughn School Transfer Petition

In re Vaughn School Transfer Petition, 2015 MT 313 (Nov 3, 2015) (Rice, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by affirming a panel of county school superintendents’ decision to dismiss a school territory transfer petition.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: The Hillcrest Hutterite Colony Attendance Center in Cascade County was formed after several colony members petitioned the Vaughn School District’s Board of Trustees in February 2013. The school district and the colony entered into a contract under which the school district agreed to provide educational services in exchange for use of a colony facility. The parties agreed that the school would be operated as a public school of the Vaughn School District. The district employs a full-time teacher and a teacher’s aide at the center, and provides books, equipment and teaching supplies.…

Public Land/Water Access Assoc., Inc. v. Jones

Public Land/Water Access Assoc., Inc. v. Jones, 2015 MT 299 (Oct. 15, 2015) (Cotter, J.; Rice, J., concurring & dissenting) (4-1, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in awarding money damages as supplemental declaratory relief; (2) whether the district court erred in failing to consider ownership of the railroad car bridge or its suitability as a bridge in violation of PLWA IV; and on cross-appeal, (3) whether the district court erred by not awarding PLWA reasonable attorney fees and costs.

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

Affirmed (1 & 2), reversed (3) and remanded for attorney fees

Facts: Roger Jones bought Boadle Ranch in 2000, a 4,900-acre ranch in Teton County. Since then, he has prohibited public use of the two main roads transecting the ranch, Boadle Road and Canal Road.…

State v. Thompson

State v. Thompson, 2015 MT 279 (Sept. 18, 2015) (McKinnon, J.; Wheat, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the justice court had good cause to conduct Thompson’s trial after the six-month deadline provided by statute.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: The state charged Thompson with DUI on Oct. 11, 2011, and that same day he pled not guilty in justice court. He appeared with counsel at the omnibus hearing Dec. 27, 2011, and requested a jury trial. The justice court set trial for March 22, 2012, with a pretrial conference March 16, 2012. The notice stated the defendant was required to personally attend the pretrial conference, and if he failed to do so he would be deemed to have waived his right to a jury trial, and jus trial date would be vacated and reset for a bench trial at the next available time.…