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State v. Favel

State v. Favel, 2015 MT 336 (Dec. 2, 2015) (McKinnon, J.; McKinnon, J., specially concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the prosecution improperly commented on the statutory inference of intoxication under § 61-8-404(2) and asserted that Favel was responsible for establishing her innocence, thereby denying Favel her right to a fair and impartial trial.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Havre police officer Sgt. Poulos stopped a car and identified Favel as the driver. Favel’s eyes were red and glassy, she was slurring her speech, and the officer smelled alcohol on her breath. Favel failed standard field sobriety tests, and refused a breath test. Eventually Poulos obtained a search warrant for Favel’s blood, which revealed a BAC of .13 percent.

The state charged Favel with felony DUI, fourth or subsequent offense.…

WLW Realty Partners v. Continental Partners

WLW Realty Partners, LLC v. Continental Partners VIII, LLC, 2015 MT 312 (Nov. 3, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Continental preserved its argument about the legal requirements of negligent misrepresentation by raising it in a reply brief supporting a motion in limine; (2) whether the district court erred by imposing liability on Continental for negligent misrepresentation; and (3) whether the district court erred by finding Continental violated the Montana Consumer Protection Act.

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

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment for Continental

Facts: Continental bought a lot with two building parcels from Yellowstone Development in 2004. In the buy-sell, the parties agreed that Yellowstone Development would provide the lots with ski-in and ski-out access.…

Siebken v. Voderberg

Siebken v. Voderberg, 2015 MT 296 (Oct. 13, 2015) (Baker, J.; Cotter, J., concurring) (6-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Siebken is entitled to a new trial based on the district court’s admission of a letter regarding Siebken’s medical history and diagnosis; (2) whether Siebken is entitled to a new trial because the district court erroneously instructed the jury on the statute of limitations; and (3) whether substantial evidence supported the jury verdict.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) the Court declines to review this issue because Siebken did not preserve the issue for appeal; and (3) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: In Siebken I, this Court reversed summary judgment for Voderberg on statute of limitations grounds. On remand, the primary factual dispute at trial was when the three-year statute began to run on Siebken’s negligence claim.…

In re Poplar Elem. v. Froid Elem.

In re Poplar Elem. v. Froid Elem., 2015 MT 278 (Sept. 17, 2015) (Rice. J.; Shea, J., dissenting) (4-1, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in holding the county superintendent abused his discretion by receiving unsworn statements as evidence in the territory transfer hearing.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: In March 2013, Froid’s board of trustees and a group of Roosevelt County electors petitioned the Roosevelt County school superintendent to transfer territory from the Poplar school district to the Froid school district. Poplar opposed the transfer. By statute, the county superintendent was required to hold a hearing on the petition. She appointed Paul Huber to act as deputy superintendent to hold the hearing and decide the petition.…

Marriage of Clark

Marriage of Clark, 2015 MT 263 (Sept. 8, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in ordering Gordon to make an equalization payment within 120 days or be forced to sell or transfer the ranch; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in failing to consider tax liabilities associated with selling the ranch; and (3) whether the district court erred in its valuation of the ranch.

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

Affirmed (1 & 3) and reversed (2) and remanded

Facts: Gordon and Nancy married in 1996 and separated in 2012. No children were born to the marriage. Nancy entered the marriage with property on the Stillwater River (the river house) and Gordon entered the marriage with ranch property.…

In the Matter of the Guardianship of AMM

In the Matter of the Guardianship of AMM, 2015 MT 250 (Aug. 24, 2015) (Shea, J.; Rice, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in denying Timothy’s motion to vacate the March 24, 2014 FOF/COLs and Judgment; (2) whether the district court erred in striking Timothy’s reply brief; (3) whether the district court abused its discretion by limiting the powers of the joint conservators and not allowing them to act in AMM’s elected corporate roles; (4) whether the district court abused its discretion in awarding attorney fees to Wold; (5) whether the district court abused its discretion in ordering Timothy to personally pay attorney fees to Emerson as part of a Rule 11 sanction; and (6) whether Timothy can allege violations of the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct in this appeal.…

Hansen Trust v. Ward

Hansen Trust v. Ward, 2015 MT 131 (May 19, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly granted summary judgment and declared the tax deed void; (2) whether the district court properly directed payment of Hansen Trust’s tax lien; and (3) whether the district court properly denied Hansen Trust’s post-judgment motions.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Dale Tarbet sold two lots in Anaconda to Michael Ward in 2007. Ward executed a promissory note to Tarbet and secured the transaction with a Montana Trust Indenture, which was recorded in April 2007. Under the Trust Indenture, Ward was the owner and taxpayer, Tarbet was the beneficiary, and Montana Abstract & Title was the trustee.…

State v. Dunsmore

State v. Dunsmore, 2015 MT 108 (April 21, 2015) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court’s failure to recuse himself violated Dunsmore’s right to a fair tribunal.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Dunsmore was charged with failure to register as a sex offender and theft, both felonies. Dunsmore entered into a plea agreement that recommended a 10-year sentence to the DOC with all 10 years suspended. The presentence investigation (PSI) concluded Dunsmore was not fit for community supervision and recommended a sentence of 10 years in MSP with five years suspended. Judge Robert Allison presided over the case. Prior to becoming a judge, Allison represented Dunsmore’s daughter in a case in which Dunsmore was accused of incest with the daughter Allison represented.…