Archive | Ambiguity

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Watters v. City of Billings

Watters v. City of Billings, 2017 MT 211 (Aug. 28, 2017) (Rice, J.; Wheat, J., dissenting) (5-2, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by holding the CBAs were unambiguous and excluding extrinsic evidence concerning their interpretation.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Officers are current and retired police officers and members of the union, which collectively bargains with the city. The central dispute in this case is the correct interpretation of the longevity pay provisions in the 2000-2003, 2003-2006, and 2006-2009 CBAs.…

Matter of Estate of McClure

Matter of Estate of McClure, 2016 MT 253 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether widow has an interest in the trust assets, and (2) whether McClure’s children forfeited their interest in the trust.

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

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: Jack McClure and his wife, Dixie, established a revocable living trust in 1993, using a form they obtained from an out-of-state company, which also provided Jack and Dixie with a binder of documents. The trust agreement stated that the trust’s primary purpose was to provide for Jack and Dixie during their lifetimes. It further provided that upon the death of either Jack or Dixie, the living spouse was to divide the trust estate into two more separate trusts – a survivor’s trust, which would continue to be revocable, and a decedent’s trust, which would be irrevocable.…

State v. Langley

State v. Langley, 2016 MT 67 (March 22, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Langley’s motion to withdraw his no contest plea.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: In February 2014 the state charged Langley with one count of arson, a felony. Langley entered a plea agreement with the state under which he agreed to plead nolo contendre and the state agreed to recommend that sentencing be deferred for six years. The agreement further provided that Langley would be allowed to withdraw his plea if the state failed to perform its obligations under the plea agreement.

At the sentencing hearing, the court indicated it was not inclined to impose a deferred sentence.…

Wicklund v. Sundheim

Wicklund v. Sundheim, 2016 MT 62 (March 9, 2016) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly admitted the testimony of an English professor interpreting the language of the warranty deed’s royalty interest reservation; (2) whether the district court erred by resolving the ambiguity in the 1953 warrant deed in favor of Sundheims; and (3) whether the district court improperly applied the doctrine of laches to deny Teisingers’ claim to the 3/5 royalty interest.

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

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in Teisingers’ favor

Facts: In 1953, Teisingers conveyed several sections of real property to Sundheims by warranty deed, and included language reserving “three-fifths (3/5ths) of Land owners [sic] oil, gas and mineral royalties and three-fifths (3/5ths) of any and all delay rentals on present and existing oil and gas leases now of record against the lands herein described,” subject to “such oil and gas leases” and any assignments of record.…