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Stafford v. Fockaert

Stafford v. Fockaert, 2016 MT 28 (Feb. 9, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion by entering default judgment for Stafford as a sanction for Fockaert’s failure to comply with the court’s order requiring mediation, and (2) whether the district court properly awarded prejudgment interest.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Stafford sued Fockaert in 2012, alleging he defrauded her of $100,000. The parties agree that Stafford transferred $100,000 to Fockaert in July 2010 for him to invest, and that he refused to return the money when she asked him to a month later.…

Spotted Horse v. BNSF R.R. Co.

Spotted Horse v. BNSF R.R. Co., 2015 MT 148 (May 29, 2015) (Cotter, J.; Wheat, J., concurring; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in declining to grant plaintiff’s motion for default judgment based on spoliation of evidence; and (2) whether the district court abused its discretion when instructing the jury as to BNSF’s duty of care.

Short Answer: (1) No, but the sanction it imposed was an abuse of discretion; and (2) yes.

Reversed and remanded for a new trial

Facts: Mark Spotted Horse, a BNSF Railway machinist, claimed that he suffered a disabling injury when his co-worker inadvertently lowered a locomotive engine compartment hatch in his head. Spotted Horse reported the incident and was immediately taken to the hospital.…

Serrania v. LPH, Inc.

Serrania v. LPH, Inc., 2015 MT 113 (April 28, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the appeal is justiciable; (2) whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to LPH on Serrania’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) claim; (3) whether the district court abused its discretion in sanctioning Serrania’s attorney, Terry Wallace.

Short Answer: (1) Serrania’s sanction and contract judgment appeals are moot, but her FDCPA claim appeal is live, and Wallace’s appeal is live; (2) yes; and (3) some sanctions are affirmed and some are reversed.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

Facts: Karrie Lynn Serrania went to Discovery Dental Group, PLLC (DDG) in 2009. She signed a contract agreeing to pay for treatment, services, and all collection and legal fees if necessary.…