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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.…

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.…

State v. Brave

State v. Brave, 2016 MT 178 (July 26, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in ordering Brave to pay $25,000 in restitution, and (2) whether the district court erred in imposing several probation conditions.

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

Affirmed (1) and reversed (2)

Facts: The state charged Brave with sexual intercourse without consent on the basis of his having committed the offense with AC, who then became pregnant and gave birth to twins. At the time of the offense, Brave was 18 and AC was 14. In May 2014, Brave pled guilty to an amended charge of criminal endangerment, a felony.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The district court held a restitution hearing in September 2014, and a sentencing hearing in November 2014, after which it issued a restitution order ordering Brave to pay $35,667.36 to AC’s mother, DC, which included $25,000 for DC’s lost wages during a 10-week FLA leave of absence that she took after the twins were born.…

Low v. Reick

Low v. Reick, 2016 MT 167 (July 12, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that Reicks’ lot is encumbered by a single easement, the existing road, measured 10 feet from each side of the road’s centerline; (2) whether the district court erred by holding Low lacked authority to sign an application for a permit to improve Reicks’ lakeshore property; (3) whether the district court erred by concluding the maintenance agreement is unenforceable against Reicks for lack of consideration; (4) whether the district court erred in holding that Reicks did not breach the maintenance agreement; (5) whether the district court erred by concluding Low breached the road detour agreement, and awarding damages to Reicks; (6) whether the district court erred by concluding Reicks did not convert Low’s fill material; and (7) whether the district court erred in ordering Low to pay Reicks’ attorney’s fees and costs arising from their counterclaim.…

Rimrock Chrysler, Inc. v. State

Rimrock Chrysler, Inc. v. State, 2016 MT 165 (July 12, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by assuming subject matter jurisdiction to review Lithia Motors’ administrative protest; and (2) whether the district court erred by dismissing Rimrock’s petition for judicial review on the grounds of mootness.

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

Affirmed (1), reversed (2), and remanded

Facts: Lithia Motors bought a Dodge franchise in Billings in 2003. At the time, Dodge was a division of Chrysler, LLC (Old Chrysler). Old Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in April 2009. AS part of its restructuring, Old Chrysler rejected 789 existing dealer agreements, including Rimrock’s in May 2009. Most of Old Chrysler’s assets were sold to Chrysler Group, LLC (New Chrysler.…

Tyrrell v. BNSF Railway Co.

Tyrrell v. BNSF Railway Co., 2016 MT 126 (May 31, 2016) (Shea, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, aff’d & rev’d) (consolidated appeals)

Issue: (1) Whether Montana courts have personal jurisdiction over BNSF under FELA, and (2) whether Montana courts have personal jurisdiction over BNSF under Montana law.

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

Affirmed (denial of BNSF’s motion to dismiss) and reversed (granting BNSF’s motion to dismiss)

Facts: In March 2011, Nelson, a North Dakota resident, sued BNSF in Montana to recover damages for injuries sustained in his employment with BNSF. BNSF is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Texas. Nelson does not allege that he ever worked in Montana or was injured in Montana.…

Denturist Assoc. of Montana v. State Dept. of Labor & Industry

Denturist Assoc. of Montana v. State Dept. of Labor & Industry, 2016 MT 119 (May 24, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in concluding Brisendine’s claims were barred by res judicata.

Short Answer: No, as to Counts II and III, but yes as to Count I.

Affirmed in part and reversed in part

Facts: The Denturist Association of Montana, on behalf of denturist Carl Brisendine, filed suit against the Board of Dentistry, challenging the validity of A.R.M. 24.138.2302(1)(j) (Rule J). the parties have been in dispute since 1991 in a series of cases. Brisendine’s complaint alleged three counts: discriminatory restraint of trade (Count I), and conflict with various statutes (Counts II and III).…

Pacific Hide & Fur Depot v. Emineth Custom Homes, Inc.

Pacific Hide & Fur Depot v. Emineth Custom Homes, Inc., 2016 MT 114 (May 17, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly entered judgment following the jury’s verdict. 

Short Answer: No. It erred in assuming Pacific was entitled to a refund of its down payment.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

Facts: Pacific put a warehouse construction and office/shop remodeling project out for bid in 2011, and awarded the contract to Emineth as the low bidder. An unsuccessful bidder threatened to cancel a rail siding lease if Emineth were allowed to proceed, and Pacific revoked the contract with Emineth. Shortly thereafter Pacfici entered into two contracts with Emineth, one for renovating the office/shop and one to build employee housing.…

Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance v. Bullock

Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance v. Bullock, 2016 MT 104 (May 10, 2016) (Cotter, J.; Baker, J., concurring) (7-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that MIJA has standing to challenge LR 121; (2) whether the district court erred in concluding that LR 121 is preempted by federal law; and (3) whether the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to MIJA.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no, except for its holding that one section of the law was not preempted; and (3) yes.

Affirmed in part and reversed in part

Facts: During the 2011 legislative session, the Montana Legislature passed House Bill 638, denying certain state-funded services to “illegal aliens,” and submitted the act to Montana voters as a legislative referendum.…

Curry v. Pondera County Canal & Reservoir Co.

Curry v. Pondera County Canal & Reservoir Co., 2016 MT 77 (March 29, 2016) (Wheat, J.; Baker, J. concurring; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the water court erred in holding that the water rights of an entity developed under the Carey Land Act for the purpose of sale or rental are not limited by the stockholders’ actual historic water use; (2) whether the water court erred in granting Pondera a “service area” rather than a place of use based on historically irrigated land; (3) whether the water court erred by ruling Pondera’s storage rights were beneficially used on the Birch Creek Flats before 1973; (4) whether the water court improperly increased the flow rate for the Gray right and improperly reversed the water master’s dismissal of a claim it found was duplicative; and (5) whether the water court’s tabulation for the Curry claim and the Pondera claim without volume measurements was an abuse of discretion.…