Mines Management, Inc. v. Fus

Mines Management, Inc. v. Fus, 2014 MT 256 (Sept. 23, 2014) (5-0) Rice, J.

Issue: Whether a party is entitled to substitute a district judge following remand instructions to vacate an injunction and conduct further proceedings.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Mines Management, Inc. (MMI) sued several defendants in 2007, challenging the validity of their unpatented mining claims in Lincoln County and asserting various tort claims. MMI holds patented mining claims on federal land in Lincoln County and intends to access the ore via an existing tunnel and construct new tunnels as well. The new tunnels would go under and through the Defendants’ unpatented mining claims.

In January 2012m two Defendants and MMC filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court granted one Defendant’s motion, which requested an injunction. MMC appealed, and the Supreme Court reversed and remanded with instructions to vacate the injunction and conduct further proceedings.

Procedural Posture & Holding: On remand, MMC moved to substitute the district judge pursuant to § 3-1-804(12), MCA. The district court denied the motion, ruling that the substitution statute was inapplicable. MMC appeals and the Supreme Court affirms.

Reasoning: Under § 3-1-804(12), MCA, each adverse party in a civil action is entitled to move for substitution of a district judge after a judgment or order has been reversed or modified on appeal, or when summary judgment or dismissal is reversed and the cause is remanded. The motion must be filed within 20 days of remittitur from the Supreme Court, and the statute sates, “there is no other right of substitution in cases remanded by the supreme court.” MMI reasons that because the request for an injunction was in Lindsey’s motion for summary judgment, vacating the injunction necessarily reversed the summary judgment. Defendants argue and the Court agrees that the remand from the Court addressed the injunction only, as the summary judgment was not ripe for review on an interlocutory appeal.