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State v. Hoover

State v. Hoover, 2017 MT 236 (Sept. 21, 2017) (Sandefur, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (4-1, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the Justice Court erred in denying Hoover’s motion to suppress.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: On a warm summer night in 2013. Steven Hoover and an adult female acquaintance drove into an ungated, 24-hour private mini-storage complex near Kalispell, and parked in a secluded spot near the back to engage in consensual intimacy. A deputy sheriff patrolling the adjacent automobile dealership noticed the truck parked in the dark. He stopped and turned off his lights, and saw the silhouettes of two people in the truck. Based on his experience, he suspected a storage unit break-in and summoned other law enforcement officers to assist him.…

Buckles v. Continental Resources, Inc.

Buckles v. Continental Resources, Inc., 2017 MT 235 (Sept. 21, 2017) (Shea, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by dismissing Buckles’ Complaint on the grounds that Continental Resources is not subject to personal jurisdiction in Montana.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed & remanded for an evidentiary hearing on jurisdiction

Facts: On April 28, 2014, Zachary died in North Dakota of exposure to high levels of hydrocarbon vapors while manually gauging crude oil production tanks on Continental’s Columbus Federal 2-16H well site near Alexander, North Dakota. Continental oversees operation of the Columbus Federal 2-16H well site from its corporate office in Sidney, Montana.…

Marriage of Broesder

Marriage of Broesder, 2017 MT 223 (Sept. 12, 2017) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by failing to consider the tax consequences of the distribution of the marital estate, resulting in an inequitable distribution.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Donald and Sandra married in 1976, and lived and worked on Donald’s family ranch for about 35 years. They own the ranch in a close corporation with their sons, Seth and Shane, and their daughter-in-law, Sarah. The corporation has restrictions on the sale of stock.…

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.…

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.…

Carbon County Resource Council v. Mont. Bd. of Oil & Gas Conservation

Carbon County Resource Council v. Mont. Bd. of Oil & Gas Conservation, 2016 MT 240 (Sept. 27, 2016) (Baker, J.; McGrath, C.J., concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether Plaintiffs’ claims were ripe for judicial review.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: In October 2013, Energy Corporation of America announced plans to develop oil and gas leases in the Beartooth Mountains. Energy Corp. filed an application with the Board for a permit to drill an exploratory oil and gas well in Carbon County, the Hunt Creek 1–H well. Carbon County Resource Council and Northern Plains Resource Council objected to the permit. The Board held a hearing, after which it approved the permit, stating that Energy Corp. did not propose hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at the site.…

Estate of Woody v. Big Horn County

Estate of Woody v. Big Horn County, 2016 MT 180 (July 26, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in holding that the estate’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Kenneth Woody IV was killed on December 16, 2011 after the vehicle in which he was a passenger crashed, following a high-speed chase by a Big Horn County sheriff’s deputy. On September 11, 2014, Woody’s estate submitted a claim letter to the county, seeking $750,000 for wrongful death and survivorship damages. The letter informed the county it had 120 days to resolve the claim without litigation. The county commissioners acknowledged receipt on September 15, 2014, but never responded.…

In re the Marriage of Wagenman

In re the Marriage of Wagenman, 2016 MT 176 (July 19, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Tammy’s Rule 60(b) motion to amend the final decree of dissolution, and (2) whether the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to Matt.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) yes.

Reversed and remanded 

Facts: Matt and Tammy Wagenman married in 1996, and jointly petitioned for dissolution in 2012, each appearing pro se. They have no children, and used the self-help dissolution forms approved by the Court. In the “real property” section of the petition, they indicated they own their marital home in Shepherd. In another section of the petition, they stated the real property should be distributed as described in Exhibit A, which was attached to the petition.…

Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip

Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip, 2016 MT 175 (July 19, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Colstrip’s motion for judgment as a matter of law when Reinlasoder did not dispute that he had sexually harassed an employee.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment for Colstrip

Facts: Colstrip discharged Reinlasoder from his position as Colstrip’s chief of police in May 2012, a position he had held since May 2004. Reinlasoder sued Colstrip for wrongful discharge, and Colstrip answered that it had fired him for good cause. Colstrip alleged numerous instances of misconduct, including pornographic emails, lying on his job application, insubordinate conduct, intimidating a female dispatcher, and sexually harassing a female dispatcher.…

In the Matter of CC

In the Matter of CC, 2016 MT 174 (July 19, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in failing to provide a detailed statement of facts justifying CC’s involuntary commitment.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: In September 2014, the Lincoln County Attorney petitioned the district court for an order of involuntary commitment, alleging CC suffered from a mental disorder requiring commitment. A mental health professional form the Western Montana Mental Health Center requested the petition be filed, asserting that CC posed an imminent danger to herself and others. The district court issued an order finding probable cause and appointing an attorney, a statutory friend, and a professional person. Upon request by her attorney, CC was examined by a professional person of her own choosing.…