Archive | Shea, J.

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Pearson v. McPhillips

Pearson v. McPhillips, 2016 MT 257 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Shea, J.; Cotter, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in finding McPhillips and Raulston were not joint venturers, and (2) whether the district court erred in finding that the use of a cutting torch is not an inherently dangerous activity.

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

Affirmed

Facts: James Raulston started a scrap metal business in 2012, which involved him collecting scrap metal from landowners in Toole County and selling it. In February 2012, Raulston approached Scott O’Brien, McPhillips’ son-in-law who helps McPhillips manage her property, and asked if he could remove scrap metal from McPhillips’ property and sell it. O’Brien gave Raulston permission on the condition that Raulston give O’Brien 35% of the proceeds.…

Wreszien v. State

Wreszien v. State, 2016 MT 242 (Sept. 28, 2016) (Shea, J.) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court correctly concluded that the participants of three public employee retirement plans were not similarly situated; and (2) whether the district court correctly concluded that employer contributions to the DB Trust do not violate substantive due process.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Plaintiffs are state university employees, and must participate in one of three Montana Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) plans: the DB plan, the DC plan, or the University plan. All covered employees participate in the DB plan unless, within one year of hire, they choose to join the DC plan or, if applicable, the University plan.…

Arnone v. City of Bozeman

Arnone v. City of Bozeman, 2016 MT 184 (Aug. 2, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Arnone’s motion for summary judgment and dismissing their complaint; and (2) whether the district court erred in denying Arnone’s motion for reconsideration.

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

Affirmed

Facts: The Bozeman City Commissioner adopted a nondiscrimination ordinance in June 2014 that prohibits discrimination by landlords, providers of public accommodations, or parties engaged in real estate transactions on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It creates a private cause of action for an aggrieved party claiming a violation of one of its provisions, and authorizes the Bozeman Municipal Court to fashion civil remedies, including injunctive relief.…

State v. Brave

State v. Brave, 2016 MT 178 (July 26, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in ordering Brave to pay $25,000 in restitution, and (2) whether the district court erred in imposing several probation conditions.

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

Affirmed (1) and reversed (2)

Facts: The state charged Brave with sexual intercourse without consent on the basis of his having committed the offense with AC, who then became pregnant and gave birth to twins. At the time of the offense, Brave was 18 and AC was 14. In May 2014, Brave pled guilty to an amended charge of criminal endangerment, a felony.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The district court held a restitution hearing in September 2014, and a sentencing hearing in November 2014, after which it issued a restitution order ordering Brave to pay $35,667.36 to AC’s mother, DC, which included $25,000 for DC’s lost wages during a 10-week FLA leave of absence that she took after the twins were born.…

State v. Rickett

State v. Rickett, 2016 MT 168 (July 12, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion by requiring Rickett to wear a leg brace during trial.

Short Answer: Yes, but it was not a structural error, and there was no reasonable possibility the defendant was prejudiced.

Affirmed

Facts: In July 2012 the state charged Rickett with aggravated kidnapping, burglary, intimidation, and escape based on its contention that he escaped a pre-release center, and kidnapped his former foster mother to gain access to the safe at a Bozeman restaurant where she worked as a bookkeeper.

The district court held a trial over three days in February 2014. Rickett appeared in person wearing street clothes with a leg brace on his right leg underneath his pants.…

Algee v. Hren

Algee v. Hren, 2016 MT 166 (July 12, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly applied the doctrine of laches to bar all of Algee’s claims not already barred by statutes of limitation.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Algee and Hrens own adjoining properties. Hren have an easement through Algee’s land, including a creek embankment. In August 2010, Hrens began to build a road on their easement to access their property. Algee filed a complaint with the Cascade Conservation District, and the CCD issued a stop work order. Hrens stopped work, changed their plans, and submitted them to the CCD, which further modified them before issuing a 210 permit to continue road construction. In September 2010, Algee received a letter informing him of the approved plan and the issued permit.…

City of Missoula v. Tye

City of Missoula v. Tye, 2016 MT 153 (June 21, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in affirming the municipal court’s order denying Tye’s motion so suppress.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: A man called 911 at 1:37 am one night in May 2014 to report a drunk driver. He told the dispatcher where he was driving, what the car looked like, and what the driver was doing. He could not describe the driver because of the car’s tinted windows, and could not see the license plate. He gave his name and phone number, and said he could be contacted. He said he would possibly sign a complaint if necessary.

A Missoula police officer responded to the report, and passed a vehicle in the vicinity of the report that fit the description given.…

Tyrrell v. BNSF Railway Co.

Tyrrell v. BNSF Railway Co., 2016 MT 126 (May 31, 2016) (Shea, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, aff’d & rev’d) (consolidated appeals)

Issue: (1) Whether Montana courts have personal jurisdiction over BNSF under FELA, and (2) whether Montana courts have personal jurisdiction over BNSF under Montana law.

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

Affirmed (denial of BNSF’s motion to dismiss) and reversed (granting BNSF’s motion to dismiss)

Facts: In March 2011, Nelson, a North Dakota resident, sued BNSF in Montana to recover damages for injuries sustained in his employment with BNSF. BNSF is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Texas. Nelson does not allege that he ever worked in Montana or was injured in Montana.…

Marriage of Bliss

Marriage of Bliss, 2016 MT 51 (March 8, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in finding the prenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable; and (2) whether the district court properly determined that more than 150 firearms belonged to Bliss.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Creed Evans and Dava Bliss married in 1996, and divorced in 2015. One day before their marriage, they executed a notarized prenuptial agreement providing that all property held individually by a party before and during the marriage remains that party’s property upon dissolution. Before signing the agreement, Evans met with an attorney to obtain independent legal advice.

During the dissolution proceedings, Bliss moved for a declaratory judgment that the agreement governed the distribution of marital property and debt.…

JAS, Inc. v. Eisele

JAS, Inc. v. Eisele, 2016 MT 33 (Feb. 16, 2016) (Shea, J.; Baker, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Bank of America’s notice of the trustee’s sale precludes it from objecting to the sale because it did not strictly comply with the Small Tract Financing Act of Montana; (2) whether Bank of America was entitled to notice of the trustee’s sale when it did not have a recorded interest in the property at the time of the sale; (3) whether JAS in entitled to repayment of funds it paid to OneWest Bank for the property purchased at the trustee’s sale.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) the Court will not address this issue because it was not raised below; and (3) the Court will not address this issue because it was not raised below.…