Archive | Wheat, J.

RSS feed for this section

Kelly v. Teton Prairie, LLC

Kelly v. Teton Prairie, LLC, 2016 MT 179 (July 26, 2016) (Wheat, J.; Rice, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court correctly applied the prior appropriation doctrine; (2) whether the district court correctly found that Teton Prairie failed to establish the elements of the futile call doctrine; and (3) whether the district court erred in issuing an injunction.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Each of the Kelly appellees (“Kelly”) owns property in Choteau County, where they have farms and ranches. Teton Prairie owns property in Teton County, upstream of Kelly on the Teton River. Kelly’s water rights are primarily for stockwater, with some for domestic use. Teton Prairie’s water rights are for irrigation, and are junior to all of Kelly’s rights.…

In re the Marriage of Wagenman

In re the Marriage of Wagenman, 2016 MT 176 (July 19, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Tammy’s Rule 60(b) motion to amend the final decree of dissolution, and (2) whether the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to Matt.

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

Reversed and remanded 

Facts: Matt and Tammy Wagenman married in 1996, and jointly petitioned for dissolution in 2012, each appearing pro se. They have no children, and used the self-help dissolution forms approved by the Court. In the “real property” section of the petition, they indicated they own their marital home in Shepherd. In another section of the petition, they stated the real property should be distributed as described in Exhibit A, which was attached to the petition.…

State v. Weber

State v. Weber, 2016 MT 138 (June 7, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion by refusing to admit the inventory list offered by defense counsel; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion by limiting defense counsel’s examination of defense investigator Peck; and (3) whether defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to admit the evidence.

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

Reversed and remanded for a new trial

Facts: Weber was a janitor at Sydney High School. He was working the night a tool used to cut metal and steel went missing from the high school shop classroom. The principal later identified Weber on surveillance video on the shop the night the plasma cutter disappeared.…

Keuffer v. O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.

Keuffer v. O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., 2016 MT 127 (May 31, 2016) (Wheat, J.; Baker, J., dissenting; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-3, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion in disqualifying Mossberg’s out-of-state and local counsel for violation of Rule 1.20 of the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Luke and Stephanie Keuffer were hunting in Montana in October 2008. Stephanie was using a .308 Mossberg model 800 rifle. The Keuffers allege that the Mossberg rifle fell and struck Luke’s rifle, which discharged and shot Luke in the face, causing serious and permanent injury.

In August 2010, Luke called Tarlow & Stonecipher, PLLC and spoke to attorney Margaret Weamer regarding a possible claim against a gun manufacturer for injuries sustained in a hunting accident.…

Friedman v. Lasco

Friedman v. Lasco, 2016 MT 115 (May 17, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion in granting the Friedmans’ application for a preliminary injunction.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Lascos owned Spirit Quest Archery, Inc., a professional retail archery business in Kalispell. In April 2013, they executed a buy-sell with Friedmans for the store. Friedmans paid Lascos more than $600,000 for the business, business assets, and real estate.

At the time of the sale, Lascos told Friedman they would no longer be involved in the archery business, as they intended to pursue a legal career. Lascos entered into a covenant not to compete that was incorporated into and attached to the buy-sell. It prohibited Lascos from owning an archery business that provides archery services or archery related sales, or being affiliated with any other archery sale or services provider within a 100-mile radius of the purchased property for a period of five years.…

Jacobson v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC

Jacobson v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC, 2016 MT 101 (May 4, 2016) (Wheat, J.; Rice, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that Bayview violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act; (2) whether the district court erred in holding that Bayview violated the Montana Consumer Protection Act; (3) whether the district court erred in awarding damages to the Jacobsons; and (4) whether the Jacobsons should be awarded costs and fees on appeal.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Jacobsons borrowed money and bought a home in October 2007, executing a promissory note and trust indenture for $391,400 as security. The original lender was CitiMortgage, Inc. and the “nominee” beneficiary of the trust indenture was Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.…

In re Eldorado Coop Canal Co.

In re Eldorado Coop Canal Co., 2016 MT 94 (April 26, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the Water Court correctly concluded that the cumulative volume of water Eldorado may divert from the Teton River for the Eldorado, Truchot, Dennis, and Beattie rights is no more than 15,000 acre-feet per year; (2) whether the Water Court erred in choosing not to assign separate volume limits for each of Eldorado’s four sets of combined irrigation and stockwater rights for the Eldorado, Truchot, Dennis, and Beattie rights; and (3) whether the Water Court erred in limiting the flow rate of the Truchot right to 300 miner’s inches rather than 225 miner’s inches.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) no; and (3) no.…

Curry v. Pondera County Canal & Reservoir Co.

Curry v. Pondera County Canal & Reservoir Co., 2016 MT 77 (March 29, 2016) (Wheat, J.; Baker, J. concurring; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the water court erred in holding that the water rights of an entity developed under the Carey Land Act for the purpose of sale or rental are not limited by the stockholders’ actual historic water use; (2) whether the water court erred in granting Pondera a “service area” rather than a place of use based on historically irrigated land; (3) whether the water court erred by ruling Pondera’s storage rights were beneficially used on the Birch Creek Flats before 1973; (4) whether the water court improperly increased the flow rate for the Gray right and improperly reversed the water master’s dismissal of a claim it found was duplicative; and (5) whether the water court’s tabulation for the Curry claim and the Pondera claim without volume measurements was an abuse of discretion.…

City of Kalispell v. Omyer

City of Kalispell v. Omyer, 2016 MT 63 (March 15, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether § 61-5-212, MCA imposes absolute liability for driving with a suspended license; and (2) whether letters from the Motor Vehicle Department informing each appellant that their drivers’ licenses were suspended were improperly admitted testimonial hearsay or properly admitted copies of public records.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) the letters were properly admitted as copies of public records under Rules 803(8) and 902(4).

Affirmed

Facts: In this consolidated appeal, three defendants were charged with various traffic violations, including driving with a suspended license. In each of the three bench trials, the state introduced letters sent from the MVD to the defendant notifying him or her of the suspension.…

Volk v. Goeser

Volk v. Goeser, 2016 MT 61 (March 8, 2016) (Wheat, J.; Rice, J., concurring; Shea, J., concurring; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to Valerie and denied the imposition of a constructive trust on life insurance proceeds in favor of RBV, a minor child.

Short Answer: No.

Summary judgment reversed, remanded to fashion constructive trust

Facts: Roy and Pamela Volk married in April 1996, and had a son, RBV, in 2000. In June 2010, Roy filed for divorce and the district court issued the statutorily mandated summons and TRO. The dissolution decree was entered in December 2011.

Roy and Pamela entered into a marital settlement agreement (MSA) the day before the final decree of dissolution.…