Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants after determining that Defendants did not breach their contract with Plaintiffs, oil companies, but reversed for modification of the fees and costs awarded to Defendants, holding that the district court abused its discretion in fixing the amount of attorney fees and costs to which Defendants were entitled as the prevailing parties. Specifically, the Court held that the district court (1) did not err in determining on summary judgment that Defendants did not breach or repudiate the parties’ 2006 settlement agreement; but (2) erred in awarding Defendants’ fees generated in determining the amount of attorney fees and erred in allowing costs that fell outside of Mont. Code Ann. 25-10-201. View "Ferdig Oil Co., Inc. v. ROC Gathering, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court holding that Kenyon-Noble Lumber Company (Kenyon Noble) had breached its contract with Dependent Foundations, Inc. (DF Inc.) by allowing a former authorized agent to charge on DF Inc.’s credit account after DF Inc. notified Kenyon Noble that it had ceased operations, holding that the district court did not err when it determined that DF Inc. was entitled to a presumption that Kenyon Noble received its letter terminating the agent’s authority. On appeal, Kenyon Noble argued that it lacked notice of the agent’s termination, and therefore, it could not have breached the contract. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court properly concluded that the statutory presumption of receipt applied and that Kenyon Noble did not successfully rebut the presumption; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding DF Inc. and Mark Markovich attorney fees and costs, and DF Inc. and Markovich were entitled to attorney fees in connection with this appeal. View "Kenyon-Noble Lumber Co. v. Dependant Foundations, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration and dismiss the case, holding that the district court did not erroneously compel arbitration. Plaintiff entered into a construction contract that contained an arbitration agreement. Plaintiff later filed a complaint against Defendants, asserting claims for breach of contract, negligence, and other torts. Defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration and dismiss. The Supreme Court granted the motion to compel arbitration and dismissed the action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err (1) in concluding that the arbitration agreement required arbitration of matters within its scope rather than merely authorizing it as a matter of discretion upon timely demand; (2) in failing to conclude that Defendants equitably waived the right to arbitrate; (3) in compelling arbitration without consideration of Plaintiff’s proposed declaratory judgment claim challenging the validity of the arbitration agreement; (4) in concluding that Plaintiff’s asserted non-contract claims were subject to arbitration; and (5) in failing to conclude that, as a non-party to the agreement, one defendant lacked standing to enforce the arbitration agreement. View "Peeler v. Rocky Mountain Log Homes Canada, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court determining that the contract between Tim and Kiri Jorgensen and Trademark Woodworks, LLC had been rescinded and awarding the Jorgensens damages and attorney’s fees, holding that the district court did not commit clear error or abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not commit clear error when it found that the agreement had been rescinded; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorney’s fees to the Jorgensens because, as the prevailing party, the Jorgensens were contractually entitled to attorney’s fees. View "Jorgensen v. Trademark Woodworks, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Nan Stevenson’s motion to amend her answer, third-party complaint, and counterclaim and entering judgment in favor of the third-party defendant, Big Sky RV, holding that the district court abused its discretion by denying Stevenson leave to amend her pleadings and erred by entering judgment in favor of Big Sky RV. In denying Stevenson leave to amend the district court concluded that the proposed amendment unduly prejudiced the parties and that the amendment was futile. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) amendment would not have prejudiced the parties, and there was no support for the district court’s conclusion that the proposed amendment was futile; and (2) where Big Sky RV did not file a motion for summary judgment, the district court erroneously entered a judgment in Big Sky RV’s favor. View "Ally Financial, Inc. v. Stevenson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court granting summary judgment to Flathead Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FEC) alleging a violation of the Rural Electric and Telephone Cooperative Act (RETCA), holding that the district court did not err in determining that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiffs were former members who received electrical services from FEC, a tax-exempt rural electrical cooperative owned by its members and organized under RETCA, but since moved out of FEC’s area. In this action, Plaintiffs alleged that FEC’s practice of allocating capital credits to each member’s capital account but not actually retiring and refunding the capital credits until sometime in the future violated RETCA. The district court granted summary judgment to FEC, ruling in part that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations. View "Wolfe v. Flathead Electric Cooperative, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellants’ motion to compel arbitration of claims brought by Appellee, holding that the district court did not err in denying Appellants’ motion to compel arbitration. At issue in this case was a dealership agreement containing an arbitration clause. The agreement was signed by Frontline Ag, LLC and John Deere Company. Appellee owned an interest in Frontline. The dealer agreement contained an arbitration clause requiring arbitration of disputes between Deere and Frontline, the dealer. Appellee eventually filed this action against Deere alleging, inter alia, tortious interference with contract. Deere moved to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration. The district court denied the motion to compel arbitration, reasoning that Appellee never agreed to arbitrate his claims against Deere and that the dealer agreement only required arbitration of disputes between Deere and Frontline. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the arbitration clause did not incorporate Appellee’s personal damage claims within its definition of disputes subject to mandatory arbitration. View "Anderson v. John Deere & Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to NorthWestern Corporation, doing business as NorthWestern Energy (NWE), on Boulder Hydro LP’s (Boulder) complaint, holding that the district court’s decision was not in error or an abuse of discretion. At issue in this contract pricing dispute was how to move forward after the Dow Jones Mid-C price index ceased publication in September 2013 and could no longer serve as the price setting reporting term in the parties’ power purchase agreement (PPA). The district court concluded that the Dow should be replaced with a reasonable market rate reporting substitute and held Boulder to its fifteen-year, market rate PPA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly interpreted the PPA between NWE and Boulder, properly granted summary judgment for NWE, and did not err in finding that a reasonable price reporting index should replace the Dow Mid-C index under the parties’ PPA. View "Boulder Hydro Limited Partnership v. NorthWestern Corp." on Justia Law

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The Montana Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to BSCE and grant of summary judgment on WAPC on BSCE's claim that Thomas Wertzberger was personally liable for certain professional services rendered by BSCE under a contract negotiated with WAPC, an agent of Allen Dunlavy. The court held that the district court correctly denied BSCE's motion for summary judgment on its claim that WAPC was not personally liable to BSCE pursuant to 28-10-702(1), MCA; the district court correctly granted summary judgment on WAPC's subsequent motion that WAPC was not personally liable to BSCE pursuant to 28-10-702(1), MCA; and the district court did not erroneously disregard an unqualified common-law agency rule that an agent who contracts on behalf of a non-existent principal was personally liable on the contract. View "Big Sky Civil & Environmental, Inc. v. Dunlavy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Vincent Toenjes’ (Vince) motion to modify his maintenance obligation to Joni Hardy (Joni), his former wife, and requiring him to pay Joni’s attorney fees and granted Joni attorney fees on appeal, holding that there was no error in the district court’s judgment. The district court concluded that, even where Vince had lost his job, the terms of the parties’ settlement agreement relating to maintenance had not become unconscionable under the facts of this case. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the district court (1) correctly interpreted the maintenance provisions of the parties’ marital and property settlement agreement; (2) did not abuse its discretion in determining that the changed circumstances did not make the agreement unconscionable; and (3) properly granted attorney fees to Joni based on the terms of the settlement agreement. Further, Joni was entitled to attorney fees on appeal under the same provision of the settlement agreement. View "In re Marriage of Toenjes" on Justia Law