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State v. Porter

State v. Porter, 2018 MT 16 (Feb. 6, 2018) (Baker, J.; Sandefur, J., specially concurring) (6-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the testimony from an emergency room physician regarding the victim’s statements made during her examination violated Porter’s rights under the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in determining the ER physician’s testimony was an exception to hearsay under M.R.Evid. 803(4), as statements made for medical diagnosis or treatment.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) no.


Facts: Belgrade police took Michelle Allen to the emergency room in August 2014 after she reported being assaulted the night before by Porter. She had a black eye and bruises on her neck, face, and arms. At the hospital, Allen signed a medical release form authorizing the hospital to release her health information to the police.…

Ibsen v. Caring for Montanans, Inc.

Ibsen v. Caring for Montanans, Inc., 2016 MT 111 (May 11, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (6-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that the UTPA does not create a private right of action, and (2) whether the district court erred in holding that Ibsen’s claims could not be maintained as common law claims.

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


Facts: Ibsen owns and operates the Urgent Care Plus clinic in Helena. He bought health insurance for clinic employees from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) through a Chamber of Commerce program, “Chamber Choices.” In July 2013, Health Care Service Corporation bought BCBSMT’s health insurance business and BCBSMT changed its name to Caring for Montanans, Inc.…

Stonehocker v. Gulf Insur. Co.

Stonehocker v. Gulf Insur. Co., 2016 MT 78 (March 29, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (6-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Travelers on the basis that Stonehocker was not a named insured under the uninsured provision of the policy, and (2) whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Travelers because at the time of Stonehocker’s injury her personal pickup was not a “temporary substitute auto” under the policy.

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

Affirmed (issue #1) & reversed (issue #2), and remanded for entry of judgment for Stonehocker on coverage 

Facts: Marilyn Stonehocker was a camp cook for Bear Creek Outfitters, a guest ranch near East Glacier.…

Whitefish Credit Union v. Prindiville

Whitefish Credit Union v. Prindiville, 2015 MT 328 (Nov. 24, 2015) (Rice, J.) (6-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by holding that a hearing was required as a matter of law to determine the fair market value of the foreclosed property; (2) whether the district court’s valuation of the foreclosed property was supported by credible evidence; and (3) whether the district court erred by improperly admitting evidence at the hearing.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) the Court does not reach this issue because (3) yes, the district court abused its for a rehearing.

Affirmed & reversed & remanded

Facts: Defendants Prindivilles, Shinns, and Rothschild acquired more than 600 acres of land on Patrick Creek Road with a loan from Whitefish Credit Union for $2.237 million.…

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.


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.…

Watterud v. Gilbraith

Watterud v. Gilbraith, 2015 MT 288 (Oct. 6, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (6-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment to sellers’ real estate agent on the basis that the buyers’ negligence claim is premised on duties to inspect and discover, which do no exist under the statute.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Gilbraiths retained Amber Uhren to sell their home in September 2013. The GIlbraiths disclosed in the listing contract that the property had not been tested for mold nor treated or mitigated for mold.

Two days later, the Watteruds entered into a buy-sell with the Gilbraiths, and both couples signed a property disclosure statement and a mold disclosure form. The Gilbraiths disclosed that there had been leakage, flooding, moisture or evidence of water in the basement in 2005, and that the “issue has been handled & taken care of.”…

City of Missoula v. Sharp

City of Missoula v. Sharp, 2015 MT 289 (Oct. 6, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (6-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the officer had sufficient objective data to form particularized suspicion to justify the investigatory stop of Sharp.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: Officer Lloyd was parked in downtown Missoula one November night when he observed several vehicles stop at a stoplight, one of which was sharp’s pickup. The speed limit there is 25 mph. When the light turned green, Lloyd heard Sharp rev the engine and speed across the intersection, leaving the other cars behind. Lloyd turned into traffic and followed Sharp with his lights activated. Sharp stopped after a few blocks. Lloyd noticed Sharp slurring his speech, and was eventually charged with DUI after refusing to submit to a breath or alcohol test.…

State v. Emerson

State v. Emerson, 2015 MT 254 (Aug. 26, 2015) (Shea, J.) (6-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Emerson’s motion to suppress because her consent to a search was the fruit of an illegal seizure.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: Deputy Robins stopped a vehicle near Shelby because he recognized the driver, Joseph Bentley, and knew there was a felony warrant out for his arrest. Emerson was a passenger in Bentley’s car. Bentley was arrested and the car was released to Emerson.

About an hour later, Emerson went to the Toole County sheriff’s office to request a gas card, but it didn’t have any. Emerson left the buildlng. A few min utes later, the sheriff’s office received a teletype from the Great Falls police department with an attempt to locate the car Emerson was driving.…

Finn v. Dakota Fire Insurance Co.

Finn v. Dakota Fire Insurance Co., 2015 MT 253 (Aug. 26, 2015) (Rice, J.) (6-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Dakota Fire on the grounds that it had properly cancelled an insurance policy for nonpayment of a renewal premium.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Dakota Fire Insurance Co. issued an insurance policy to David Finn for his 2007 Silverado pickup truck, effective May 1, 2011-May 1, 2012. On March 16, 2012, Finn received letter from EMC Insurance (Dakota Fire’s parent company) advising him he would be receiving a renewal invoice soon, and that failure to pay the premium would result in cancellation. On March 28, 2012, Finn requested that his new GMC Sierra be substituted on the policy, and EMC made the change.…