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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.…

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.…

Carbon County Resource Council v. Mont. Bd. of Oil & Gas Conservation

Carbon County Resource Council v. Mont. Bd. of Oil & Gas Conservation, 2016 MT 240 (Sept. 27, 2016) (Baker, J.; McGrath, C.J., concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether Plaintiffs’ claims were ripe for judicial review.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed. 

Facts: In October 2013, Energy Corporation of America announced plans to develop oil and gas leases in the Beartooth Mountains. Energy Corp. filed an application with the Board for a permit to drill an exploratory oil and gas well in Carbon County, the Hunt Creek 1–H well. Carbon County Resource Council and Northern Plains Resource Council objected to the permit. The Board held a hearing, after which it approved the permit, stating that Energy Corp. did not propose hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at the site.…

Estate of Kurth

Estate of Kurth, 2016 MT 188 (Aug. 9, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in granting Barstis’s motion to amend, denying Puryers’ motion to amend, and concluding that Kurth died intestate; and (2) whether the district court erred in awarding costs to Barstis.

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

Affirmed 

Facts: Paul Kurth died in January 2000 at age 82 in Missoula. He had never married and had no children. Before his death, he lived for several years with his niece and her husband, Sinda and Marty Puryer, in Kalispell. In February 1998, Marty hand wrote a document entitled the last will and testament of Paul Kurth. Marty claims that Kurth dictated the contents of the document to him and signed it in his presence and the presence of one other person.…

Arnone v. City of Bozeman

Arnone v. City of Bozeman, 2016 MT 184 (Aug. 2, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Arnone’s motion for summary judgment and dismissing their complaint; and (2) whether the district court erred in denying Arnone’s motion for reconsideration.

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

Affirmed

Facts: The Bozeman City Commissioner adopted a nondiscrimination ordinance in June 2014 that prohibits discrimination by landlords, providers of public accommodations, or parties engaged in real estate transactions on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It creates a private cause of action for an aggrieved party claiming a violation of one of its provisions, and authorizes the Bozeman Municipal Court to fashion civil remedies, including injunctive relief.…

State v. Allen

State v. Allen, 2016 MT 185 (Aug. 2, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court by denying Allen’s motion to dismiss multiple charges of violating an order of protection pursuant to § 46-11-410(2); and (2) whether the district court by denying Allen’s motion to dismiss multiple charges of violating an order of protection on double jeopardy grounds.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) this issue was not preserved for appeal.

Affirmed

Facts: Allen sent 35 messages to his ex-girlfriend, BD, in a two-hour period on day in September 2014. BD had an order of protection against Allen, and alerted the police to the messages.…

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.…