Archive | Declaratory judgment

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Schweitzer v. City of Whitefish

Schweitzer v. City of Whitefish, 2016 MT 254 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by granting summary judgment on the basis of claim preclusion.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Warren Schweitzer and Ingela Schnittger (Owners) own two lots in a Whitefish subdivision adjacent to Whitefish Lake, which the city of Whitefish has annexed. Owners have owned the property for several years. In 2005, Owners decided to tear their home down and build a new house. Their plans called for replacing the existing septic tank and drain field. Owners were advised they could hook up to the city water and sewer if their property was annexed into Whitefish. Owners successfully petitioned to be annexed in 2005.…

Fire Insurance Exchange v. Weitzel

Fire Insurance Exchange v. Weitzel, 2016 MT 113 (May 17, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by concluding Fire Insurance Exchange (FIE) had a duty to defend Weitzel under the terms of the insurance policy.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in FIE’s favor

Facts: The estate of Ronny Groff brought suit against Jake Weitzel, alleging that Weitzel gained the trust of Groff, an elderly man, and then absconded with Groff’s property and assets over a number of years. Groff’s children hired Weitzel in 2010 to provide in-home care services to Groff and his wife, who died in 2011. Weitzel provided services until Ronny died in July 2013.

The estate’s complaint alleges that after Ronny’s wife died, Weitzel began to wrongfully exert control over Ronny and exploit him to her financial gain.  …

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.…

Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co. v. Keller Transport, Inc.

Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co. v. Keller Transport, Inc., 2016 MT 6 (Jan. 12, 2016) (Rice, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in determining Westchester’s excess policy provided an additional $4 million in coverage under the “general aggregate” limit; and (2) whether the district court erred in holding Westchester breached its duty to defend.

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

Affirmed and reversed

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.…

Murray v. Motl

Murray v. Motl, 2015 MT 216 (July 28, 2015) (Cotter, J.; McKinnon, J., concurring) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in dismissing Murray’s declaratory relief action for lacking a justiciable controversy.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Murray was an unsuccessful candidate for the Montana Legislature in the June 2010 primary. On Dec. 18, 2013, the Commissioner of Political Practices issued a decision finding sufficient evidence Murray had violated Montana’s campaign practice laws and that civil adjudication was warranted. The commissioner forwarded the decision to the Lewis & Clark county attorney for consideration, and the county attorney waived his right to participate.

In January 2014, Murray filed an action for declaratory relief in Gallatin County, where he resides, seeking a determination that the commissioner violated § 13-37-124, MCA, when he referred the sufficiency decision to the Lewis & Clark county attorney rather than the Gallatin county attorney.…