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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.…

In re Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, Inc.

In re Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, Inc., 2016 MT 121 (May 24, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether objector Laura Fortune waived her right on appeal to object to the settlement; (2) whether objector Kevin Budd has standing to object to the settlement agreement; (3) whether the district court abused its discretion in certifying this matter as a class action; (4) whether the district court abused its discretion in approving the settlement agreement; and (5) whether the district court erred by allowing individual settlements.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) no; (3) no; (4) no; and (5) no.

Affirmed

Facts: Claimants assert that while they were insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield (now Caring for Montanans, Inc.) or Montana Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA), they submitted claims that the insurers denied based on policy exclusions that were subsequently disapproved by the Montana Commissioner of Insurance.…

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.…

Draggin’ Y Cattle Company, Inc. v. Addink

Draggin’ Y Cattle Company, Inc. v. Addink, 2016 MT 98 (May 3, 2016) (Baker, J.; Rice, J., concurring; McKinnon, J., concurring & dissenting; McGrath, C.J. & Wheat, J., recused themselves) (5-0, appeal dismissed)

Issue: Whether New York Marine timely raised its disqualification claim, and if so, whether the claim should be considered on the merits given that the judge did not disclose circumstances that could cause the judge’s impartiality to be reasonably questioned.

Short Answer: Under these circumstances, the claim is not waived. The Court holds Judge Huss had a duty to disclose but declines to determine whether Judge Huss should have been disqualified for cause. It remands for determination of the disqualification issue by a district judge it will assign.…

Fenwick v. State Dept. of Military Affairs

Fenwick v. State Dept. of Military Affairs, Disaster & Emerg. Svcs. Div., 2016 MT 80 (April 5, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly held the severance agreement was lawful; (2) whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment when Fenwick claims her consent to the severance agreement was given under duress, undue influence, etc.; (3) whether the district court properly held that the consideration for the agreement did not fail; (4) whether the district court properly dismissed Fenwick’s constitutional claims; and (5) whether the district court properly denied summary judgment to the department on Fenwick’s claims for intentional interference and bad faith.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) this issue was not raised below and is waived; (3) yes; (4) the Court does not reach this issue as any error would be harmless; and (5) having failed to file across-appeal, the department has waived appellate review of this issue.…

In the Matter of JB, Jr.

In the Matter of JB, Jr., 2016 MT 68 (March 22, 2016) (Rice, J.; McKinnon, J, concurring; Baker, J., dissenting) (5-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that the treatment plan was appropriate, and (2) whether the district court abuse its discretion in terminating Father’s parental rights.

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

Affirmed

Facts: When JB was just a few weeks old, his parents took him shoplifting. Father was on probation and had two outstanding felony warrants for his arrest. The Department investigated and petitioned for protective services, adjudication of JB as a youth in need of care, and temporary legal custody. JB was placed in foster care with his sibling, EB, and Father was sentenced to 10 years suspended on each of the two outstanding felonies, to run concurrently with another unspecified sentence he was serving.…

Wicklund v. Sundheim

Wicklund v. Sundheim, 2016 MT 62 (March 9, 2016) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly admitted the testimony of an English professor interpreting the language of the warranty deed’s royalty interest reservation; (2) whether the district court erred by resolving the ambiguity in the 1953 warrant deed in favor of Sundheims; and (3) whether the district court improperly applied the doctrine of laches to deny Teisingers’ claim to the 3/5 royalty interest.

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

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in Teisingers’ favor

Facts: In 1953, Teisingers conveyed several sections of real property to Sundheims by warranty deed, and included language reserving “three-fifths (3/5ths) of Land owners [sic] oil, gas and mineral royalties and three-fifths (3/5ths) of any and all delay rentals on present and existing oil and gas leases now of record against the lands herein described,” subject to “such oil and gas leases” and any assignments of record.…

In the Matter of JH

In the Matter of JH, 2016 MT 35 (Feb. 16, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by finding the Department made reasonable efforts to reunify JH with his father; (2) whether the district court erred by finding that JH’s best interests were served by living with his aunt, EJ, and not his father; and (3) whether the district court erred by approving a permanency plan without first holding an age-appropriate consultation with JH.

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

Affirmed

Facts: JH, seven years old, is the child of AH (mother) and CL (father). Mother and father never married, no custody order or parenting plan was ever entered, and JH saw his father only occasionally.…