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Cox v. Magers

Cox v. Magers, 2018 MT 21 (Feb. 13, 2018) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Coxes failed to comply with the judicial process; and (2) whether the district court’s discovery sanctions were overly severe.

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


Facts: Magers was driving in downtown Kalispell when he rear-ended Cox’s car. Magers admitted he was not paying attention. Coxes filed suit against Magers almost three years later, and served the complaint almost three years after that. Ten days after service, Magers mailed discovery requests to the Coxes at their address of record, a post office box in Plains. The next day Magers filed his answer and a motion to change venue, serving both at the same P.O.…

Teton Coop Canal Co. v. Teton Coop Reservoir Co.

Teton Coop Canal Co. v. Teton Coop Reservoir Co., 2018 MT 20 (Feb. 13, 2018) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the water court erred by (1) apportioning volume limits for Teton Canal’s 1890 water right claims and the junior 1936 Eureka Reservoir claims; (2) removing Eureka Reservoir as storage under the 1890 Notice but allowing Glendora Reservoir’s storage capacity to be added; (3) permitting Teton Canal to store its 1890 direct flow water in the Eureka Reservoir during irrigation season; and (4) allowing Teton Canal a year-round period of diversion for the 1890 Notice.

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


Facts: In Teton Canal I, the Court held that (1) the 1890 Notice was specific to the Glendora Canal and Glendora Reservoir; (2) Teton Canal could not claim the Eureka Reservoir under the 1890 Notice; and (3) the Eureka Reservoir could not relate back to the 1921 Notice.…

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.…

Borges v. Missoula County Sheriff’s Office

Borges v. Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, 2018 MT 14 (Jan. 30, 2018) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in declining to consider facts that arose after Borges filed his October 31, 2014 HRB complaint; and (2) whether the district court erred in granting the county summary judgment on Borges’ claim that the county failed to engage in an interactive dialogue or to provide a reasonable accommodation.

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


Facts: Borges began working at the detention facility in November 2006, and in 2010 was named outstanding employee of the year. His duties included supervising staff and overseeing juvenile offenders. In April 2014, Borges was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, manifesting as an extreme sensitivity to fragrances.…

State v. Lerman

State v. Lerman, 2018 MT 5 (Jan. 9, 2018) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the state presented sufficient evidence to prove the elements of penetration and force in conviction for sexual intercourse without consent.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: Kelsey Stoker went to Randall Lerman, a licensed massage therapist in Dillon, for four appointments to help alleviate lower back pain. During her appointments, Stoker left on her undergarments, which included a cap-sleeved undershirt and spandex shorts that went almost to her knees.

At the fourth appointment, Lerman pulled her shorts down to her knees, and pulled her top down, exposing her breasts. He massaged her breasts and nipples, her buttocks, the back of her thighs, and her groin. He then inserted his fingers into Stoker’s vagina, at which point she told him to stop.…

Clark Fork Coalition v. Tubbs

Clark Fork Coalition v. Tubbs, 2017 MT 184 (July 25, 2017) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., specially concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the Coalition was entitled to attorney fees under the private attorney general doctrine following it successful challenge to the DNRC’s exempt-well rule.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: The Clark Fork Coalition and other plaintiffs challenged a DNRC rule regarding groundwater appropriations exempt from permitting requirements (the exempt-well rule). The district court invalidated the rule and this Court affirmed. Clark Fork I, 2016 MT 229.

Prior to this Court’s decision in Clark Fork I, the Coalition had moved for fees under the PAG doctrine and the district court had granted the motion. The court held that the DNRC’s promulgation of the 1993 rule was not a quasi0judicial function, and reasoning that the litigation implicated constitutional interests.…

Draggin’ Y Cattle Co., Inc. v. Junkermeier, Clark, Campanella, Stevens, P.C.

Draggin’ Y Cattle Co., Inc. v. Junkermeier, Clark, Campanella, Stevens, P.C., 2017 MT 125 (May 30, 2017) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that Judge Huss should have been disqualified and (2) whether the district court erred in vacating Judge Huss’s order issued after he should have disqualified himself.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: On remand following reversal of summary judgment for Junkermeier, Judge Huss assumed jurisdiction. Peters and Junkermeier entered into a settlement agreement and stipulated for entry of judgment without New York Marine’s participation or authorization in November 2014. New York Marine moved to intervene in December 2014 to oppose the settlement, and requested additional discovery and a stay of the scheduled reasonableness hearing.…

Matter of Estate of Edwards, 2017 MT 93 (April 25, 2017) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in appointing a neutral personal representative; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in evidentiary rulings at trial; (3) whether substantial credible evidence supported the jury’s findings that the 2012 will and the 2012 trust were procured by undue influence, fraud, or duress; (4) whether the district court erred in refusing to admit the 2010 will to probate or to enforce the 2010 trust after the jury’s verdict; and (5) whether the district court erred in refusing to award Verone attorney fees and certain costs.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; (3) yes; (4) yes; and (5) yes.…

Blaine County v. Stricker

Blaine County v. Stricker, 2017 MT 80 (April 11, 2017) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d and rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Judge Sherlock correctly concluded that the commission improperly modified the hearing officer’s findings; and (2) whether Judge Reynolds correctly concluded that Judge Sherlock erred.

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

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: Allen Longsoldier, Jr., an 18-year-old Native American, died from delirium tremens while in custody at the Hill County Detention Center. Longsoldier’s estate brought this case from the Human rights Bureau, alleging discrimination on the basis of race and disability. The hearing officer concluded the counties had not discriminated against Longsoldier. The estate appealed to the Human Rights Commission, which found clear error in the findings and concluded the counties had discriminated and remanded to the hearing officer to determine the appropriate relief.…

Hill County High School v. Dick Anderson Construction, Inc.

Hill County High School v. Dick Anderson Construction, Inc., 2017 MT 20 (March 21, 2017) (Baker, J.; Wheat, J., dissenting) (5-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court correctly held that the statute of repose barred the school district’s claims; (2) whether the district court correctly held that the period of repose could not be tolled; and (3) whether the district court properly awarded Springer attorney fees under the contract.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) yes; and (3) yes.


Facts: The school district entered into a contract with Springer in 1996 to design a new roof for the Havre High School, and contracted with Anderson to build the roof in 1997. A final walk through was held in January 1998, the school was in full use by April 1998, and the school district issued final payment around that time.…