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City of Libby v. Hubbard

City of Libby v. Hubbard, 2018 MT 2 (Jan. 2, 2018) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether Hubbard’s conviction should be reversed because of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Hubbard and her cousin went to a Libby casino to gamble. Hubbard presented a fake ID to obtain a gambling coupon. An employee recognized her and called police. Upon investigation, the officers confirmed that Hubbard had no outstanding warrants, but that her Oregon driver’s license was suspended. She was not cited for using the fake identification.

Shortly after, the officers were on patrol when they saw Hubbard driving. Knowing her license was suspended, they initiated a traffic stop, and arrested her.…

Moreau v. Transportation Insur. Co.

Moreau v. Transportation Insur. Co., 2018 MT 1 (Jan. 2, 2018) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the Workers’ Compensation Court erred in granting summary judgment to Transportation Insurance Company.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Moreau’s husband, Edwin, worked for W.R. Grace in Libby from 1963-1992. In 2009, Edwin died from asbestos-related lung cancer.

In 2000, Grace established the Libby Medical Plan to pay medical expenses for employees injured by asbestos. The Plan paid about $95,000 of Edwin’s medical expenses. In September 2012, as part of Grace’s bankruptcy, certain rights and duties of the Plan were transferred to the Libby Medical Plan Trust. Grace remained responsible for the Plan’s ongoing obligations incurred before that time.

In 2010, Moreau, as PR of Edwin’s estate, filed a work comp claim for occupational disease benefits.…

State v. Nelson

State v. Nelson, 2017 MT 237 (Sept. 26, 2017) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Nelson’s motion to suppress.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: In July 2015, a waitress and a coworker called 911 to report a drunk person driving away from the restaurant where they worked. MHP Officer Burson was on patrol when he received the report from dispatch. Eleven minutes after the initial report, he located the vehicle in a hotel parking lot, where he observed it drive from the check-in area to a parking spot. The officer activated his lights and made contact with the driver, Nelson. After conducting a DUI investigation, he arrested Nelson for DUI.…

Marriage of Broesder

Marriage of Broesder, 2017 MT 223 (Sept. 12, 2017) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by failing to consider the tax consequences of the distribution of the marital estate, resulting in an inequitable distribution.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Donald and Sandra married in 1976, and lived and worked on Donald’s family ranch for about 35 years. They own the ranch in a close corporation with their sons, Seth and Shane, and their daughter-in-law, Sarah. The corporation has restrictions on the sale of stock.…

Moore v. Goran, LLC

Moore v. Goran, LLC, 2017 MT 208 (Aug. 22, 2017) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1)Whether the crushed aggregate material is a “good” under the Uniform Commercial Code, and (2) whether the weight of the material as determined at the seller’s gravel pit formed the basis of payment under the sales contract.

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

Summary judgment for seller affirmed

Facts: Mark Moore owns a gravel pit north of Red Lodge. Goran, LLC is a Utah company contracted by the Montana DOPT to build the Red Lodge Tied projects. Moore and Goran entered into a contract under which Moore agreed to provide Goran with crushed aggregate material. The parties used Goran’s form contract.…

Ally Financial, Inc. v. Stevenson

Ally Financial, Inc. v. Stevenson, 2017 MT 190 (Aug. 8, 2017) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in determining it had subject matter jurisdiction, and (2) whether venue was proper in Chouteau County under § 30-14-133(1), MCA.

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


Facts: Stevenson bought a fifth wheel trailer from Big Sky RV, Inc. in 2014 for $72,595. She traded in her previous trailer for $8,000, provided a down payment of $21,773, and financed the remainder through Ally Bank. Big Sky delivered the new trailer to Stevenson’s home in Chouteau County in August 2014, and picked up her trade-in the same day.…

Clark Fork Coalition v. Tubbs

Clark Fork Coalition v. Tubbs, 2017 MT 184 (July 25, 2017) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., specially concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the Coalition was entitled to attorney fees under the private attorney general doctrine following it successful challenge to the DNRC’s exempt-well rule.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: The Clark Fork Coalition and other plaintiffs challenged a DNRC rule regarding groundwater appropriations exempt from permitting requirements (the exempt-well rule). The district court invalidated the rule and this Court affirmed. Clark Fork I, 2016 MT 229.

Prior to this Court’s decision in Clark Fork I, the Coalition had moved for fees under the PAG doctrine and the district court had granted the motion. The court held that the DNRC’s promulgation of the 1993 rule was not a quasi0judicial function, and reasoning that the litigation implicated constitutional interests.…

Draggin’ Y Cattle Co., Inc. v. Junkermeier, Clark, Campanella, Stevens, P.C.

Draggin’ Y Cattle Co., Inc. v. Junkermeier, Clark, Campanella, Stevens, P.C., 2017 MT 125 (May 30, 2017) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that Judge Huss should have been disqualified and (2) whether the district court erred in vacating Judge Huss’s order issued after he should have disqualified himself.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: On remand following reversal of summary judgment for Junkermeier, Judge Huss assumed jurisdiction. Peters and Junkermeier entered into a settlement agreement and stipulated for entry of judgment without New York Marine’s participation or authorization in November 2014. New York Marine moved to intervene in December 2014 to oppose the settlement, and requested additional discovery and a stay of the scheduled reasonableness hearing.…

Matter of the Estate of Engellant

Matter of the Estate of Engellant, 2017 MT 100 (May 2, 2017) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the District Court erred in granting summary judgment to Kenneth and dismissing the petition for lack of standing.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Petitioners Daren and Kevin Engellant are the sons of Respondent Kenneth Engellant, and nephews of Gregory Engellant. Gregory was permanently disabled in 1982, and Kenneth has been the appointed conservator since 1985. Gregory executed a will in 1978, before his accident, and a second will in 2012. Daren and Kevin and devisees under both wills.…

Belanus v. Potter

Belanus v. Potter, 2017 MT 95 (April 26, 2017) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court correctly concluded that Belanus’s claim is barred by the statute of limitations; (2) whether the district court correctly concluded that Belanus’s claim is barred by res judicata; and (3) whether the district court abused its discretion in finding Belanus to be a vexatious litigant and issuing a pre-filing order against him.

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


Facts: Belanus was convicted in June 2009 of aggravated kidnapping and sexual intercourse without consent of his then-girlfriend, TC. A key piece of evidence was a taped telephone conversation that occurred a few months before the assault in which a drunken Belanus threatened TC with death and bodily injury.…