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Carbon County Resource Council v. Mont. Bd. of Oil & Gas Conservation

Carbon County Resource Council v. Mont. Bd. of Oil & Gas Conservation, 2016 MT 240 (Sept. 27, 2016) (Baker, J.; McGrath, C.J., concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether Plaintiffs’ claims were ripe for judicial review.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed. 

Facts: In October 2013, Energy Corporation of America announced plans to develop oil and gas leases in the Beartooth Mountains. Energy Corp. filed an application with the Board for a permit to drill an exploratory oil and gas well in Carbon County, the Hunt Creek 1–H well. Carbon County Resource Council and Northern Plains Resource Council objected to the permit. The Board held a hearing, after which it approved the permit, stating that Energy Corp. did not propose hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at the site.…

Estate of Woody v. Big Horn County

Estate of Woody v. Big Horn County, 2016 MT 180 (July 26, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in holding that the estate’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Kenneth Woody IV was killed on December 16, 2011 after the vehicle in which he was a passenger crashed, following a high-speed chase by a Big Horn County sheriff’s deputy. On September 11, 2014, Woody’s estate submitted a claim letter to the county, seeking $750,000 for wrongful death and survivorship damages. The letter informed the county it had 120 days to resolve the claim without litigation. The county commissioners acknowledged receipt on September 15, 2014, but never responded.…

In re the Marriage of Wagenman

In re the Marriage of Wagenman, 2016 MT 176 (July 19, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Tammy’s Rule 60(b) motion to amend the final decree of dissolution, and (2) whether the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to Matt.

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

Reversed and remanded 

Facts: Matt and Tammy Wagenman married in 1996, and jointly petitioned for dissolution in 2012, each appearing pro se. They have no children, and used the self-help dissolution forms approved by the Court. In the “real property” section of the petition, they indicated they own their marital home in Shepherd. In another section of the petition, they stated the real property should be distributed as described in Exhibit A, which was attached to the petition.…

Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip

Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip, 2016 MT 175 (July 19, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Colstrip’s motion for judgment as a matter of law when Reinlasoder did not dispute that he had sexually harassed an employee.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment for Colstrip

Facts: Colstrip discharged Reinlasoder from his position as Colstrip’s chief of police in May 2012, a position he had held since May 2004. Reinlasoder sued Colstrip for wrongful discharge, and Colstrip answered that it had fired him for good cause. Colstrip alleged numerous instances of misconduct, including pornographic emails, lying on his job application, insubordinate conduct, intimidating a female dispatcher, and sexually harassing a female dispatcher.…

In the Matter of CC

In the Matter of CC, 2016 MT 174 (July 19, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in failing to provide a detailed statement of facts justifying CC’s involuntary commitment.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: In September 2014, the Lincoln County Attorney petitioned the district court for an order of involuntary commitment, alleging CC suffered from a mental disorder requiring commitment. A mental health professional form the Western Montana Mental Health Center requested the petition be filed, asserting that CC posed an imminent danger to herself and others. The district court issued an order finding probable cause and appointing an attorney, a statutory friend, and a professional person. Upon request by her attorney, CC was examined by a professional person of her own choosing.…

State v. Weber

State v. Weber, 2016 MT 138 (June 7, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion by refusing to admit the inventory list offered by defense counsel; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion by limiting defense counsel’s examination of defense investigator Peck; and (3) whether defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to admit the evidence.

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

Reversed and remanded for a new trial

Facts: Weber was a janitor at Sydney High School. He was working the night a tool used to cut metal and steel went missing from the high school shop classroom. The principal later identified Weber on surveillance video on the shop the night the plasma cutter disappeared.…

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.  …

Peretti v. State Dept. of Revenue

Peretti v. State Dept. of Revenue, 2016 MT 105 (May 10, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in reversing the State Tax Appeal Board’s valuation order; (2) whether the district court erred in awarding administrative trial costs to the taxpayers; and (3) whether the district court erred in ordering DOR to return all taxes paid under protest. 

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) yes; and (3) yes.

Reversed with instructions to reinstate the STAB valuation order

Facts: Perettis own Flathead Lake property with lake frontage. DOR appraised the property in 2012, based on market value in July 2008, and Perettis appealed to the county board. The county board reduced the appraised values from $1,356,201 to $1,192,500 for the land, and $166,980 to $125,000 for the improvements.…

Employers Mutual Casualty Co. v. Fisher Builders, Inc.

Employers Mutual Casualty Co. v. Fisher Builders, Inc., 2016 MT 91 (April 19, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Did the district court err in concluding the alleged acts and their consequences were not an “occurrence” under the policy; and (2) whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Employers Mutual Casualty (EMC).

Short Answer: (1) Yes, clarifying previous precedent; and (2) yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Jerry and Karen Slack have owned a vacation home on Flathead Lake since 1969. In 2007, the Slacks hired Fisher Builders to build a remodeled home that would serve as the Slacks’ year-round residence. In order to maintain the home’s status as an acceptable non-conforming property use under Lake County zoning laws, the remodeled home had to incorporate the existing structure.…

Mashek v. Dept. of Public Health & Human Svcs.

Mashek v. Dept. of Public Health & Human Svcs., 2016 MT 86 (April 12, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the hearing officer and district court erred in holding that the statutory Broadband Pay Plan factors preempt the collective bargaining process.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed

Facts: Plaintiffs are compliance specialists for the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) of DPHHS, pay band 6, employed by the state and belonging to MEA-MFT Local 4573. The collective bargaining agreements to which 4573 and the state are parties have two-year terms beginning on July 1 of odd years and ending on June 30 two years later. In May 2011, while Local 4573 was negotiating for the 2011-2013 contract period, plaintiffs filed a complaint against the department alleging that their pay was not “internally equitable” in comparison with pay band 6 compliance specialists in other state agencies, in violation of § 2-18-301(4), MCA.…