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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.…

Citizens for a Better Flathead v. Bd. of County Comm’rs

Citizens for a Better Flathead v. Bd. of County Comm’rs, 2016 MT 256 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in striking Citizens’ expert report; (2) whether the district court erred in determining that the Commission substantially complied with the growth policy; (3) whether the district court erred in determining the Commission allowed meaningful public participation; (4) whether the district court erred in determining the Commission adequately incorporated public comments into its decision-making process; and (5) whether the final clause in part 6 of the revised growth policy survives constitutional scrutiny.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; (3) no; (4) no; and (5) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: The Flathead County Commission adopted the original Flathead County Growth Policy in March 2007.…

Talbot v. WMK-Davis, LLC

Talbot v. WMK-Davis, LLC, 2016 MT 247 (Oct. 4, 2016) (Cotter, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in determining that Montana courts will not conduct a choice of law analysis when determining the validity of a workers’ compensation subrogation lien under Oberson v. Federated Mutual Insur. Co.; and (2) whether the district court erred in grating summary judgment to Talbot.

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

Affirmed

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.…

Matter of Estate of McClure

Matter of Estate of McClure, 2016 MT 253 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether widow has an interest in the trust assets, and (2) whether McClure’s children forfeited their interest in the trust.

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

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: Jack McClure and his wife, Dixie, established a revocable living trust in 1993, using a form they obtained from an out-of-state company, which also provided Jack and Dixie with a binder of documents. The trust agreement stated that the trust’s primary purpose was to provide for Jack and Dixie during their lifetimes. It further provided that upon the death of either Jack or Dixie, the living spouse was to divide the trust estate into two more separate trusts – a survivor’s trust, which would continue to be revocable, and a decedent’s trust, which would be irrevocable.…

Estate of Kurth

Estate of Kurth, 2016 MT 188 (Aug. 9, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in granting Barstis’s motion to amend, denying Puryers’ motion to amend, and concluding that Kurth died intestate; and (2) whether the district court erred in awarding costs to Barstis.

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

Affirmed 

Facts: Paul Kurth died in January 2000 at age 82 in Missoula. He had never married and had no children. Before his death, he lived for several years with his niece and her husband, Sinda and Marty Puryer, in Kalispell. In February 1998, Marty hand wrote a document entitled the last will and testament of Paul Kurth. Marty claims that Kurth dictated the contents of the document to him and signed it in his presence and the presence of one other person.…

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.…

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.…

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.…

Denturist Assoc. of Montana v. State Dept. of Labor & Industry

Denturist Assoc. of Montana v. State Dept. of Labor & Industry, 2016 MT 119 (May 24, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in concluding Brisendine’s claims were barred by res judicata.

Short Answer: No, as to Counts II and III, but yes as to Count I.

Affirmed in part and reversed in part

Facts: The Denturist Association of Montana, on behalf of denturist Carl Brisendine, filed suit against the Board of Dentistry, challenging the validity of A.R.M. 24.138.2302(1)(j) (Rule J). the parties have been in dispute since 1991 in a series of cases. Brisendine’s complaint alleged three counts: discriminatory restraint of trade (Count I), and conflict with various statutes (Counts II and III).…