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In re the Marriage of Wagenman

In re the Marriage of Wagenman, 2016 MT 176 (July 19, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Tammy’s Rule 60(b) motion to amend the final decree of dissolution, and (2) whether the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to Matt.

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

Reversed and remanded 

Facts: Matt and Tammy Wagenman married in 1996, and jointly petitioned for dissolution in 2012, each appearing pro se. They have no children, and used the self-help dissolution forms approved by the Court. In the “real property” section of the petition, they indicated they own their marital home in Shepherd. In another section of the petition, they stated the real property should be distributed as described in Exhibit A, which was attached to the petition.…

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.…

In the Matter of Parenting ZDL-B

In the Matter of Parenting ZDL-B, 2016 MT 164 (July 12, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by modifying the parenting plan because changed circumstances did not exist; (2) whether the district court’s findings regarding the child’s best interests were clearly erroneous; and (3) whether the district court erred in denying mother’s request for attorney fees and costs.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Z was born in 2003 to Jessica and Daniel, both of whom were in high school. Jessica was Z’s primary provider, with help from Daniel and their families. Jessica and Daniel did not marry, and parented Z without significant court intervention. Jessica petitioned for a parenting plan in 2005, and the court adopted a stipulated plan.…

Petaja v. Montana Public Employees’ Association (MPEA)

Petaja v. Montana Public Employees’ Association (MPEA), 2016 MT 143 (June 8, 2016) (Rice, J.; McGrath, C.J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether substantial evidence supported the jury verdict finding MPEA breached its duty of fair representation; (2) whether the jury verdict was contrary to the instructions and the law; (3) whether Petaja’s claim was barred by res judicata; and (4) whether the district court had authority to award attorney fees. 

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) no; (3) this claim was waived for purposes of appellate review; and (4) no.

Affirmed

Facts: Petaja was terminated from her position with Lewis and Clark County as the clinic coordinator of the WIC program. The county claimed Petaja was terminated due to reorganization; she claims she was terminated because of her age, 59.…

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.…

Jacobson v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC

Jacobson v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC, 2016 MT 101 (May 4, 2016) (Wheat, J.; Rice, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that Bayview violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act; (2) whether the district court erred in holding that Bayview violated the Montana Consumer Protection Act; (3) whether the district court erred in awarding damages to the Jacobsons; and (4) whether the Jacobsons should be awarded costs and fees on appeal.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Jacobsons borrowed money and bought a home in October 2007, executing a promissory note and trust indenture for $391,400 as security. The original lender was CitiMortgage, Inc. and the “nominee” beneficiary of the trust indenture was Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.…

Bergum v. Musselshell County

Bergum v. Musselshell County, 2016 MT 47 (March 1, 2016) (McKinnon, J.; Baker, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in concluding the statute of limitations in § 2214, RCM (1935) barred Bergum’s quiet title action, and (2) whether the district court erred in denying Musselshell County its attorney fees under § 25-7-105, MCA.

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

Affirmed

Facts: This case involves the disputed ownership of subsurface mineral rights to 320.58 acres of coal-rich land in Musselshell County. In 1908, Lincoln and Annie Westcott received patents for adjacent parcels of 160 and 160.58 acres, for which they paid $1,600 and $1,605.80 respectively. Lincoln then conveyed his patented 160 acres to Annie.…

Shockley v. Cascade County

Shockley v. Cascade County, 2016 MT 34 (Feb. 16, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly denied Shockley’s motion for attorney fees under § 2-3-221, MCA.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Shockley sought disclosure of a settlement agreement between a Cascade County detention office, Jason Carroll, Cascade County, and Carroll’s collective bargaining unit, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 2. In 2014 MT 281, this Court held that Shockley had standing to assert a claim against the county for disclosure of the documents. The county had no objection to disclosure, and the district court entered Carroll’s default. The only party opposing disclosure was the union, which relied on the confidentiality provision of the settlement agreement, to which it was a party.…

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.…

Bardsley v. Pluger

Bardsley v. Pluger, 2015 MT 301 (Oct. 20, 2015) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion by issuing an amended order of protection; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion by denying the Plaintiffs’ motion to amend their complaint; (3) whether the district court erred by granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment; and (4) whether the district court abused its discretion by awarding Defendants attorney’s fees.

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

Affirmed (2, 3, 4) and reversed (1)

Facts: Scott Bardsley owns property in Troy where he lives with his partner, Dora. Defendants Earnest Anderson and Lizann Pluger live on the adjacent property, owned by Lizann’s uncle, Edwin Pluger.…