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Cleveland v. Ward

Cleveland v. Ward, 2016 MT 10 (Jan. 12, 2016) (Shea, J.; Cotter, J., concurring) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court improperly excluded trial testimony of Cleveland’s treating physician; (2) whether the district court improperly excluded trial testimony of Cleveland’s physical therapist; (3) whether the district court erred in granting a directed verdict on Cleveland’s claim that her rotator cuff tear and shoulder arthritis were caused by the collision; and (4) whether the district court erred in concluding that Cleveland could not recover damages incurred by Shelby House.

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

Affirmed

Rose v. Rose

Rose v. Rose, 2016 MT 7 (Jan. 12, 2016) (Baker, J.) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in allocating delinquent tax liability equally between the parties after taxing authorities determined one party was an “innocent spouse.”

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Sherri and Michael married in 1994 and have three children. They lived in Billings for most of their marriage, separating in late 2012. Sherri petitioned for dissolution in March 2013, and the district court held a bench trial in April 2014.…

Kulko v. Davail, Inc.

Kulko v. Davail, Inc., 2015 MT 340 (Dec. 8, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (7-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in concluding that corporate dissolution is an exclusive remedy under § 35-1-939, MCA; and (2) whether the district court erred in dismissing Kulko’s claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the basis that the corporate dissolution eliminated any case or controversy.

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

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Alex and Sharon Horn incorporated Davail, Inc. in Montana in 1982 for estate planning purposes. Their children – David Kulko, Ilsa Kaye, and Michael Horn – are Davail’s sole shareholders, officers, and directors. Kulko owns 46% of the shares and is a director and vice-president; Kaye owns 46% and is a director and president; and Horn owns the remaining 8%.…

In re Golz

In re Golz, 2015 MT 318 (Nov. 10, 2015) (Shea, J.) (7-0, cert. ques. answered)

Issue: Whether a bankruptcy debtor may claim an exemption in an inherited Individual Retirement Account under § 25-13-608(1)(e), MCA.

Short Answer: No.

Certified question from U.S. Bankruptcy Court answered

Facts: Christopher Golz filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in December 2014. Golz is 40 years old and employed by Simms Fishing Products. Golz’s spouse did not file bankruptcy with him.

Golz inherited an ORA account from his mother upon her death, the value of which was listed by Golz as $6,905.65. Golz claimed the IRA as exempt property, and the trustee objected. Golz has not contributed to the account and cannot invest additional money in the account.…

Mlekush v. Farmers Insur. Exchange

Mlekush v. Farmers Insur. Exchange, 2015 MT 302 (Oct. 20, 2015) (Shea, J.) (7-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in determining Mlekush could not recover attorney fees and costs from Farmers.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Mlekush was in a car accident with another driver, Shaunaugh McGoldrick, in January 2011. McGoldrick admitted liability and Mlekush recovered McGoldrick’s $50,000 policy limits for bodily injuries. At the time, Mlekush was insured with Farmers Insurance under a policy that included underinsured motorist coverage with a $200,000 policy limit. Mlekush entered into a contingency fee agreement with Doubek, Pyfer & Fox, LLP to represent her on her UIM claim. In August 2012, Mlekush’s attorneys sent Farmers a letter of representation and asked Farmers to open a medical payments claim.…

State v. Given

State v. Given, 2015 MT 273 (Sept. 15, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in permitting AU to testify about prior sexual abuse by Given; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion when it limited the defense examination of witnesses regarding specific instances of conduct; and (3) whether the district court abused its discretion in admitting testimony from the state’s expert, Wendy Dutton.

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

Affirmed

Facts: In April 2011, Detective Kevin Cunningham responded to a report of sexual abuse of KF, a 10-year-old boy. Cunningham interviewed KF, who disclosed three incidents in which his neighbor, Given, had touched him inappropriately over the past year.…

State v. Northcutt

State v. Northcutt, 2015 MT 267 (Sept. 8, 2015) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., concurring) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court violated Northcutt’s right to be present and right to a public trial by asking the jury about the status of its deliberations without the defendant and the public present.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: The state charged Northcutt with three counts of assaulting a peace officer and one count of aggravated animal cruelty. On the third day of trial, the jury began deliberating around 4:30 p.m. At around 5:30 p.m., the jury sent a note to the court asking to see one of the demonstrative exhibits, which the court and the parties agreed to supply. The jury sent a second note around 7:30 p.m.…

Estate of Mills

Estate of Mills, 2015 MT 245 (Aug. 18, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.; Rice, J. concurring) (7-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion in denying David’s motion to set aside his default.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed

Facts: Howard Mills (“Father”) died June 21, 2014, leaving three sons – Howard W., John, and David. On August 21, 2014 Howard W. petitioned for formal probate of Father’s will, determination of heirs, and appointment of a PR. The district court scheduled a hearing for Sept. 22, 2014. On Aug. 28, 2014. Howard W. sent notices of the hearing to all interested parties, including his brothers, and filed proof of mailing the notices the same day.

David Mills filed a detailed letter in response to the petition on Sept.…

McClue v. Safeco Insurance Co.

McClue v. Safeco Insurance Co., 2015 MT 222 (Aug. 4, 2015) (Baker, J.) (7-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court improperly excluded causation testimony from Dr. Sabow; and (2) whether the district court properly excluded causation testimony from Dr. Jimmeh-Fletcher.

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

Affirmed and reversed, and remanded for further proceedings

Facts: Carol McClue was involved in a serious accident in January 2009. In 2011, Dr. Sherry Reid and Dr. Decontee Jimmeh-Fletcher diagnosed Carol with bulbar ALS, of which Carol died in 2013.

At the time of the accident, Carol had Underinsured Motorists Coverage through Safeco. After her diagnosis in 2011, she submitted claims to Safeco for damages associated with the ALS.…

Commissioner of Political Practices v. Bannan

Commissioner of Political Practices v. Bannan, 2015 MT 220 (Aug. 4, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (7-0, appeal dismissed)

Issue: Whether the Lewis & Clark County District Court had subject matter jurisdiction over the commissioner’s enforcement action against Bannan.

Short Answer: Yes, the district court had subject matter jurisdiction. The real issue on appeal is an issue of statutory interpretation, and this appeal is premature.

Appeal dismissed

Facts: Terry Bannan was an unsuccessful candidate for the Montana Legislature in the 2010 primary. Commissioner Motl issued a decision in January 2014, concluding there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate Bannan had violated various campaign practices and finance law warranting civil adjudication.

The commissioner forwarded his decision to the Lewis and Clark county attorney for consideration of pursuing an action against Bannan.…