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Cox v. Magers

Cox v. Magers, 2018 MT 21 (Feb. 13, 2018) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Coxes failed to comply with the judicial process; and (2) whether the district court’s discovery sanctions were overly severe.

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


Facts: Magers was driving in downtown Kalispell when he rear-ended Cox’s car. Magers admitted he was not paying attention. Coxes filed suit against Magers almost three years later, and served the complaint almost three years after that. Ten days after service, Magers mailed discovery requests to the Coxes at their address of record, a post office box in Plains. The next day Magers filed his answer and a motion to change venue, serving both at the same P.O.…

Hanson v. State

Hanson v. State, 2016 MT 152 (June 21, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion in dismissing Hanson’s petition for postconviction relief as a sanction for failing to comply with discovery.

Short Answer:  No.


Facts: Hanson was convicted of sexual assault and deviate sexual conduct for offenses involving a young boy. His conviction was affirmed in 1997. He filed a petition for postconviction relief, which the district court denied for insufficiency in form. This Court affirmed in 1999. Hanson petitioned for habeas corpus, and his petition was demised as procedurally defaulted. Hanson appealed and the Ninth Circuit affirmed in 2003.…

Sharbono v. Cole

Sharbono v. Cole, 2015 MT 257 (Sept. 1, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.; Baker, J., concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly granted Coles’ motion in limine to exclude Sharbonos’ expert witnesses; and (2) whether the district court properly granted judgment to Coles and awarded them attorney fees.

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

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Sharbonos and Coles own adjoining parcels of land adjacent to Rock Creek in Carbon County. Sharbonos have a senior right to use water that arises on Coles’ property and flows or seeps into a pond on Sharbonos’ property. In 1994, Coles obtained a water use permit for a pond on their property, and in subsequent years engaged in development and construction activities, which Sharbonos contend greatly reduced or eliminated the flow of water onto their land.…

Tempel v. Benson

Tempel v. Benson, 2015 MT 84 (April 21, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Tempel waived her right to appeal the jury verdict by accepting the benefits of the judgment; and (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in determining that Benson’s conduct did not warrant discovery sanctions.

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


Facts: Tempel sued Benson for negligence after the two were in a car accident. During discovery, Tempel sent Benson a request to admit violating certain traffic laws, and Benson denied the request. Tempel moved for summary judgment on negligence, and the district court granted her motion. Tempel also moved for Rule 37 sanctions for Benson’s failure to admit violating traffic laws; the district court denied the motion.…