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State v. Ailer

State v. Ailer, 2018 MT 18 (Feb. 6, 2018) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Ailer’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim; (2) whether evidence of Ailer’s wages being garnished is a “bad act” and inadmissible character evidence; and (3) whether substantial evidence supported the district court’s restitution order.

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

Affirmed

Facts: A few weeks after being released to full-duty employment after a car accident, Matthew Ailer filed a work comp claim, reporting that a heavy floor burnisher fell on him as he was lifting it into his work truck. A coworker, Russell, and Ailer’s fiancée were with Ailer when the accident occurred, and took him to the hospital.…

Hudson v. Irwin

Hudson v. Irwin, 2018 MT 8 (Jan. 8, 2018) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in concluding Hudsons were not entitled to access an easement on the Irwin property; (2) whether the owner of real property who is establishing a general plan development can create an easement upon the owner’s own parcel; and (3) whether the prevailing party award of attorney fees should be vacated.

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

Affirmed and remanded for determination of fees on appeal

Facts: Hudsons and Irwin own real property adjacent to one another. Before being subdivided by a previous owner, the properties were one parcel. A privately owned public airport is on the Irwin property.…

Moreau v. Transportation Insur. Co.

Moreau v. Transportation Insur. Co., 2018 MT 1 (Jan. 2, 2018) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the Workers’ Compensation Court erred in granting summary judgment to Transportation Insurance Company.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Moreau’s husband, Edwin, worked for W.R. Grace in Libby from 1963-1992. In 2009, Edwin died from asbestos-related lung cancer.

In 2000, Grace established the Libby Medical Plan to pay medical expenses for employees injured by asbestos. The Plan paid about $95,000 of Edwin’s medical expenses. In September 2012, as part of Grace’s bankruptcy, certain rights and duties of the Plan were transferred to the Libby Medical Plan Trust. Grace remained responsible for the Plan’s ongoing obligations incurred before that time.

In 2010, Moreau, as PR of Edwin’s estate, filed a work comp claim for occupational disease benefits.…

Moore v. Goran, LLC

Moore v. Goran, LLC, 2017 MT 208 (Aug. 22, 2017) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1)Whether the crushed aggregate material is a “good” under the Uniform Commercial Code, and (2) whether the weight of the material as determined at the seller’s gravel pit formed the basis of payment under the sales contract.

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

Summary judgment for seller affirmed

Facts: Mark Moore owns a gravel pit north of Red Lodge. Goran, LLC is a Utah company contracted by the Montana DOPT to build the Red Lodge Tied projects. Moore and Goran entered into a contract under which Moore agreed to provide Goran with crushed aggregate material. The parties used Goran’s form contract.…

Matter of the Estate of Engellant

Matter of the Estate of Engellant, 2017 MT 100 (May 2, 2017) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the District Court erred in granting summary judgment to Kenneth and dismissing the petition for lack of standing.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Petitioners Daren and Kevin Engellant are the sons of Respondent Kenneth Engellant, and nephews of Gregory Engellant. Gregory was permanently disabled in 1982, and Kenneth has been the appointed conservator since 1985. Gregory executed a will in 1978, before his accident, and a second will in 2012. Daren and Kevin and devisees under both wills.…

Great Falls Clinic v. Mont. Eighth Jud. Dist. Court

Great Falls Clinic v. Mont. Eighth Jud. Dist. Court, 2016 MT 245 (Oct. 4, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (7-0, petition granted, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act (WDEA) applies to the parties’ relationship.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Lisa Warrington was offered a job at Great Falls Clinic on October 7, 2014, while she was employed by Benefis Hospital. Warrington accepted the offer and gave two weeks’ notice to Benefis. Warrington signed a written employment contract on October 10, with both parties agreeing her employment would begin October 27, 2014. On October 24, Warrington’s last day at Benefis, the clinic called and told Warrington it would not employ her after all.

Warrington sued the clinic for breach of contract, promissory estoppel and bad faith.…

McColl v. Lang

McColl v. Lang, 2016 MT 255 (Oct. 11, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in granting Lang’s motion to exclude certain evidence, and (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in denying McColl’s motion to exclude the testimony of Lang’s expert witness.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Lang is a licensed naturopathic physician. McColl saw Lang in 2012 and discussed a blemish on her nose that she wished to remove. A month later, McColl returned to Lang’s office where he applied black salve, an escharotic agent, to the blemish on McColl’s nose. Lang sent her home with instructions to return. A few days later, McColl returned and Lang reapplied black salve.…

Parker v. Safeco Insurance Co.

Parker v. Safeco Insurance Co., 2016 MT 173 (July 19, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in construing Parker’s insurance policy as excluding coverage for damage caused by a large rock falling down a hillside into Parker’s cabin. 

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed 

Facts: In March 2014, a large boulder dislodged from a hillside and fell down the hill into Parker’s unoccupied cabin, causing substantial damage. Parker submitted a claim to his insurer, Safeco.…

State v. Kasparek

State v. Kasparek, 2016 MT 163 (July 12, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Kasparek’s motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant, and (2) whether the district court erred in denying Kasparek’s motion to suppress statements he made while in custody.

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

Affirmed

Facts: In August 2013, Deputy Sheriff Stokes responded to a report of a burglary at a residence in Browning. The owner, Judy Como, had been at work from 7 pm-7 am, and told the officer her house had been burglarized while she was gone. Several items were missing, including her estranged husband Spencer Atchley’s drug test results. The front door showed signs of forced entry.…

State v. Charlo-Whitworth

State v. Charlo-Whitworth, 2016 MT 157 (June 28, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in not giving the defendant’s proposed jury instruction on accomplice liability.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed 

Facts: Riley Charlo-Whitworth and Alexis Paul lived together with Paul’s 2-year-old child, MP. One evening in January 2013, Whitworth drove Paul to work around 7 pm, then returned home with MP. He put MP to bed around 8:30 pm, but the child awoke crying around 10 pm. Whitworth grew frustrated and shoved the child into a wall, spanked him and hit him. Because MP was bleeding, Whitworth gave him a bath.…