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Johnson v. Wayne S. Hansen Trust

Johnson v. Wayne S. Hansen Trust, 2016 MT 46 (March 1, 2016), amended and superseded on rehearing (May 3, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by granting summary judgment to Johnson and declaring the tax deeds void; and (2) whether the district court erred in determining the final amount due to the Trust as purchaser of the tax liens.

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


Facts: Johnson owned three parcels of real property in Powell County, valued collectively for tax purposes at $260,478. After Johnson failed to pay the property taxes over several years, the Trust purchased tax deeds to the properties in December 2012. The Trust filed quiet title actions for the three properties in March 2013, and Johnson responded by filing his own quiet title actions, alleging the tax deeds issued to the Trust violated statutory procedures and should be set aside.…

Bergum v. Musselshell County

Bergum v. Musselshell County, 2016 MT 47 (March 1, 2016) (McKinnon, J.; Baker, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in concluding the statute of limitations in § 2214, RCM (1935) barred Bergum’s quiet title action, and (2) whether the district court erred in denying Musselshell County its attorney fees under § 25-7-105, MCA.

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


Facts: This case involves the disputed ownership of subsurface mineral rights to 320.58 acres of coal-rich land in Musselshell County. In 1908, Lincoln and Annie Westcott received patents for adjacent parcels of 160 and 160.58 acres, for which they paid $1,600 and $1,605.80 respectively. Lincoln then conveyed his patented 160 acres to Annie.…

Zinvest, LLC v. Anderson

Zinvest, LLC v. Anderson, 2015 MT 204 (July 21, 2015) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether Carbon County properly complied with the procedural requirements of the tax statutes.

Short Answer: No. The procedural requirements in the tax deed statutes must be strictly observed. The documents in this transaction contain several errors that violated the statutes.


Facts: After Donna Anderson failed to pay taxes on her property in Carbon County, the county conducted a tax lien sale in July 2009 and acquired the property. On Aug. 30, 2011 Zinvest mailed a notice to Anderson informing her of its intent to buy the lien from the county if the taxes were not paid within two weeks. Anderson did not pay, and Zinvest bought the lien.…

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.


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.…