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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.…

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.…

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%.…

Public Land/Water Access Assoc., Inc. v. Jones

Public Land/Water Access Assoc., Inc. v. Jones, 2015 MT 299 (Oct. 15, 2015) (Cotter, J.; Rice, J., concurring & dissenting) (4-1, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in awarding money damages as supplemental declaratory relief; (2) whether the district court erred in failing to consider ownership of the railroad car bridge or its suitability as a bridge in violation of PLWA IV; and on cross-appeal, (3) whether the district court erred by not awarding PLWA reasonable attorney fees and costs.

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

Affirmed (1 & 2), reversed (3) and remanded for attorney fees

Facts: Roger Jones bought Boadle Ranch in 2000, a 4,900-acre ranch in Teton County. Since then, he has prohibited public use of the two main roads transecting the ranch, Boadle Road and Canal Road.…

O’Connor v. George

O’Connor v. George, 2015 MT 274 (Sept. 15, 2015) (Cotter, J.; Baker, J., dissenting) (4-1, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court manifestly abused its discretion in denying O’Connor’s motion for a new trial based on defense counsel’s failure to disclose that some of George’s photographic evidence depicted damage from another accident.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded for new trial

Facts: In September 0211, O’Connor was rear-ended by George while stopped at a railroad crossing in Helena. Both vehicles sustained minor damage; the property damage claim was resolved. O’Connor claimed she was injured in the accident. George admitted liability but disputed the extent of O’Connor’s injuries.

O’Connor sued George in May 2013. State Farm, George’s insurer, investigated and provided O’Connor with its investigative materials.…

Locke v. Estate of Davis

Locke v. Estate of Davis, 2015 MT 141 (May 26, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly denied the estate’s motion to alter or amend the judgment; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion by making findings and conclusions that effectively bind Safeco to a judgment when Safeco was not a named party and did not appear.

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

Affirmed in part, vacated and remanded

Facts: In May 2011, Marian Davis lost control of her car and struck Amy Locke’s car. Davis died several hours later. Locke suffered multiple physical and emotional injuries.

Davis was insured by Safeco under a policy with $100,000 per person coverage. In August 2012, Locke filed a claim for damages against Davis’s estate.…

Meek v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court

Meek v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, 2015 MT 130 (May 13, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, supervisory control granted)

Issue: Whether the district court properly granted a defense motion in limine to restrict the medical damages evidence admissible at trial, and properly granted summary judgment against Meek on that issue.

Short Answer: No.

Writ of supervisory control granted

Facts: Judy Meek died in January 2012 after a fall at a business in November 2011. Sharon Meek, the PR of Judy’s estate, brought suit against the business where the fall happened, seeking damages for survival and wrongful death.

Between the time of the fall and Judy’s death, Judy’s medical providers billed $197,154 for her care. Judy had Medicare coverage, with supplemental coverage through BC/BS.…

Victory Insurance Co., Inc. v. Montana State Fund

Victory Insurance Co., Inc. v. Montana State Fund, 2015 MT 82 (March 17, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in dismissing Victory’s common law UTPA claim, and granting summary judgment to the State Fund on Victory’s claim for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.

Short Answer: Yes, as Victory’s inability to establish damages is fatal to both claims.

Affirmed

Facts: Plaintiffs and defendants are competitors in the workers compensation industry. Victory is a Montana corporation in Miles City, and began operating in 2007. It sells work comp insurance directly to employers without using insurance agencies for sales or claims adjustment. Defendant State Fund sells work comp insurance though in-house and out-of-house agents. Defendants Liberty Northwest, Payne Financial Group, and Western States Insurance also sell work comp insurance, including State Fund policies.…