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Watters v. City of Billings

Watters v. City of Billings, 2017 MT 211 (Aug. 28, 2017) (Rice, J.; Wheat, J., dissenting) (5-2, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by holding the CBAs were unambiguous and excluding extrinsic evidence concerning their interpretation.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Officers are current and retired police officers and members of the union, which collectively bargains with the city. The central dispute in this case is the correct interpretation of the longevity pay provisions in the 2000-2003, 2003-2006, and 2006-2009 CBAs.…

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.…

Brunette v. State

Brunette v. State, 2016 MT 128 (May 31, 2016) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (5-2, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Brunette’s petition to reinstate his driver’s license. 

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: In April 2015, Officer Brotnov was on patrol in Cut Bank. Police department dispatch received a call form an unknown officer to run a license plat check on Burnette’s vehicle, parked on Central Avenue. Sometime later, Officer Brotnov drove past Brunett’e vehicle, at which point Brotnov turned around and drove in the opposite direction. Brotnov and another officer continued to patrol the area, discussing Brunette’s whereabouts. After observing Brunette pull over and change directions twice, officer Brotnov began to follow Brunette, saw him make a right-hand turn without using his turn signal, and initiated a traffic stop.…

In the Matter of SGR

In the Matter of SGR, 2016 MT 70 (March 22, 2016) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, dissenting) (5-2, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court’s order met the statutory requirements for extending commitments under §§ 53-21-127 and -128, MCA.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: SGR is 76 years old, with a long history of severe alcoholism, mental health issues and multiple periods of institutionalization. He is in a wheelchair. Before his initial commitment in 2014, SGR had a pattern of receiving his social security check on the first of the month, staying at a hotel, and drinking until his money ran out. He would then check in to the Community Crisis Center in Billings for the rest of the month. At the Community Crisis Center in 2014, he suffered a seizure as a result of alcohol withdrawal and was hospitalized.…

Russell v. State

Russell v. State, 2016 MT 69 (March 22, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.; Cotter, J., dissenting) (5-2, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Russell received effective assistance of counsel at trial, and (2) whether Russell received effective assistance of counsel on appeal.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Russell and Spotted Wolf assaulted two men in an alley one night after drinking all day. One of the men died, and the other was seriously and permanently injured. Russell was charged with felony murder, aggravated assault, and accountability for Spotted Wolf’s robbery and aggravated assault. Russell was convicted by a jury in May 2005, and sentenced. Russell appealed and the Court reversed the conviction for aggravated assault against one victim, as it was an included offense of the felony murder conviction.…

Global Client Solutions, LLC v. Ossello

Global Client Solutions, LLC v. Ossello, 2016 MT 50 (March 2, 2016) (McGrath C.J.; Wheat, J., concurring; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (5-2, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in reserving to itself the determination of arbitrability; and (2) whether the district court erred in determining that the arbitration provision was unconscionable and therefore not enforceable.

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

Denial of motion to dismiss and to compel arbitration affirmed

Facts: Ossello had more than $40,000 in unsecured debt in 2012 when she received an unsolicited mailing from World Law, advertising that it could provide debt relief services. Ossello called and spoke to a sale agent. Ossello and the agent reviewed several form agreements, which Ossello electronically signed, including a Client Services Agreement with World Law and a Dedicated Account Agreement (DAA) with Global Client Solutions.…

State v. Strong

State v. Strong, 2015 MT 251 (Aug. 25, 2015) (Baker, J.; Cotter, J., dissenting) (5-2, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Strong’s motion to dismiss based on its determination that Strong’s conduct could give rise to multiple offenses.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: In August 2012, Strong was charged with four counts of partner/family member assault against his wife, Jessica, and their minor child. He pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges of PFMA and one felony charge of PFMA. He was jailed pending sentencing. On August 10, Jessica obtained an order of protection prohibiting all contract between Strong and Jessica, effective for one year. Strong did not oppose the order.

On Nov. 6, 2012,Strong called Jessica four times from jail.…

Marble v. State

Marble v. State, 2015 MT 242 (Aug. 14, 2015) (Cotter, J.; Rice, J., concurring & dissenting; McKinnon, J., concurring & dissenting) (5-2, rev’d) (Judge Michael Hayworth sitting for Chief Justice McGrath)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in predicating its decision denying Marble’s petition for postconviction relief on the concurring opinion in Beach II; and (2) what test a district court must use in reviewing a petition for postconviction relief predicated on newly discovered evidence and filed within one year of discovering such evidence.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) The district court shall determine whether the new evidence “if proved and viewed in light of the evidence as a whole would establish that the petitioner did not engage in the criminal conduct for which he or she was convicted.”

Reversed

Facts: In 2002, 17-year-old Cody Marble spent several weeks in Pod C of the Missoula County detention center (MCDC) with seven boys aged 13-18.…

Montana Dept. of Revenue v. Priceline.com, Inc.

Montana Dept. of Revenue v. Priceline.com, Inc., 2015 MT 241 (Aug. 12, 2015) (Shea, J.; McKinnon, J. concurring & dissenting) (5-2, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in determining online travel companies are not required to collect and remit taxes on OTC fees under the Lodging Facility Use Tax; (2) whether the district court erred in determining OTCs are not required to collect and remit taxes on OTC fees under the sale tax on accommodations and campgrounds; (3) whether the district court erred in determining OTCs are not required to collect and remit taxes on OTC fees under the sales tax on rental vehicles; and (4) whether this decision should be applied retroactively.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) yes; (3) yes; and (4) yes, to the date the department filed this action.…

Estate of Gleason v. Central United Life Insurance Co.

Estate of Gleason v. Central United Life Insurance Co., 2015 MT 140 (May 20, 2015) (Wheat, J.; McKinnon, J., concurring & dissenting; Rice, J., concurring & dissenting) (5-2, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) whether the district erred in applying the notice-prejudice rule; (2) whether the district court erred when it instructed the jury that it must first find UTPA damages other than damages for failure to pay benefits before considering punitive damages; (3) whether the district court erred by failing to direct a verdict against Central United for violating the UTPA; (4) whether the district erred in not dismissing the UTPA claim because Central United had a reasonable basis in law for denying the claims; (5) whether the district court erred in determining the date from which the statute of limitations was applied; (6) whether the district court erred in allowing the parties to present evidence of other cases in and out of Montana; (7) whether the district court properly awarded trial costs to Central United; (8) whether the district court erred in awarding attorneys’ fees to the estate.…