Archive | Shea, J.

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State v. Schowengerdt

State v. Schowengerdt, 2018 MT 7 (Jan. 16, 2018) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in ruling Schowengerdt was not entitled to substitution of counsel, and (2) whether Schowengerdt was denied effective assistance of counsel.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Schowengerdt killed his wife by repeatedly stabbing her in their home in December 2012. He drove to the police station the next day and confessed in a recorded statement. Schowengerdt’s attorney filed notice in January 2013 that he might assert a defense of justificable use of force. In April 2013, Schowengerdt decided to plead guilty to deliberate homicide. The district court proceeded through a detailed colloquy during which Schowengerdt indicated the plea was knowing and voluntary, he was satisfied with his attorney’s services, and that he could not “handle” a trial.…

Buckles v. Continental Resources, Inc.

Buckles v. Continental Resources, Inc., 2017 MT 235 (Sept. 21, 2017) (Shea, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by dismissing Buckles’ Complaint on the grounds that Continental Resources is not subject to personal jurisdiction in Montana.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed & remanded for an evidentiary hearing on jurisdiction

Facts: On April 28, 2014, Zachary died in North Dakota of exposure to high levels of hydrocarbon vapors while manually gauging crude oil production tanks on Continental’s Columbus Federal 2-16H well site near Alexander, North Dakota. Continental oversees operation of the Columbus Federal 2-16H well site from its corporate office in Sidney, Montana.…

Asurion Svcs., LLC v. Mont. Insur. Guaranty Assoc.

Asurion Svcs., LLC v. Mont. Insur. Guaranty Assoc., 2017 MT 140 (June 13, 2017) (Shea, J.; Sandefur, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in granting SJ to Asurion based on work comp exclusivity.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: While employed by Asurion, Harris filed industrial injury claims for two different incidents, occurring on May 5, 2002, and September 4, 2002. Asurion was insured by Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Company as a Plan 2 employer. Lumbermens accepted and adjusted Harris’s workers’ compensation claims until it was declared insolvent in May 2013. When Lumbermens went into liquidation, the MIGA assumed handling of Harris’s claims pursuant to the Montana Insurance Guaranty Association Act (Guaranty Act), § 33-10-101, et seq., MCA.…

Deschner v. State, Dept. of Highways

Deschner v. State, Dept. of Highways, 2017 MT 37 (Feb. 28, 2017) (Shea, J.) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly instructed the jury on inverse condemnation.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: On October 9, 2010, a sandstone slab fell from the Rims that weighed roughly two million pounds and measured approximately sixty feet long, thirty feet wide, and eight feet deep. It fell on Deschner and Lodge’s home and rendered it uninhabitable.

At trial, Deschner and Lodge contended that the State’s construction and placement of Highway 3 and Culvert 239 caused an unnatural increase in the amount of water that ran off the highway onto the rockfall site, ultimately causing the slab to fall onto their home. Deschner and Lodge called two experts who concluded that Culvert 239 increased the amount of water at the fall site, causing the slab to fall.…

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.…