Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment on Plaintiff's claim to an accounting and recovery of surplus proceeds on the resale of her mobile home after she returned it to RJC Investment, Inc. holding that the district court erred in holding that Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) was inapplicable in this case. Plaintiff entered into an installment sale contract and security agreement to purchase a mobile home. The contract was assigned to RJC. Plaintiff later allowed RJC to take possession of the mobile home and signed a full release of contract relinquishing all rights to the mobile home. After RJC resold the mobile home RJC failed to provide an accounting of the sale and did not refund any surplus to Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued RJC. The district court granted summary judgment for RJC. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the release between Plaintiff and RJC did not terminate application of the UCC's requirement for an accounting and surplus after RJC sold the collateral; (2) the district court erred in granting RJC summary judgment on the ground that RJC satisfied the elements of the acceptance of collateral in full satisfaction pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 30-9A-620; and (3) RJC was not entitled to summary judgment on other grounds. View "Hutzenbiler v. RJC Investment, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this case concerning a boundary realignment agreement entered into between the parties in this case, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting specific performance of a contract to Plaintiff, holding that the district court correctly determined that the cause of action was timely prosecuted by Plaintiff and that Plaintiff was entitled to specific performance of a contract. The district court ruled that Plaintiff was entitled to specific performance and dismissed Defendants' trespass claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err by concluding that Plaintiff's breach of contract claim was not barred by the relevant statute of limitation; (2) did not err by determining that Plaintiff was entitled to specific performance of the contract; and (3) properly dismissed Defendants' trespass claim. View "Miller v. Kleppen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court awarding attorney's fees to TCH Builders and Remodeling, holding that the district court abused its discretion by assessing all of TCH's attorney fees against the construction lien bond posted by Homes For Our Troops (HFOT). TCH filed a construction lien against HFOT's property and initiated this action claiming, among other things, breach of contract and foreclosure of the construction lien bond. The district court dismissed all claims against HFOT except for TCH's lien claim against HFOT's bond. A jury found in favor of TCH. The district court entered an order ruling that all attorney fees incurred by TCH throughout the course of the proceeding were payable from the bond posted by HFOT. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for redetermination of the amount of fees to be assessed against HFOT's bond, holding that the assessment of the entirety of TCH's attorney fees against HFOT's bond was inequitable, arbitrary, and not reasonable. View "TCH Builders v. Elements of Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment specifically enforcing post-auction real property buy-sell agreements between Sellers and respective auction purchasers, Buyers, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment and did not err in denying Sellers Mont. R. Civ. P. 56(f) relief prior to rendering summary judgment. On appeal, Sellers asserted, among other things, that genuine issues of material fact remained on the Rule 56 factual record as to whether Buyers respectively satisfied conditions precedent to formation of their respective buy-sell agreements. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not erroneously grant summary judgment specifically enforcing the buy-sell agreements with Sellers; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in not granting Sellers Rule 56(f) relief prior to rendering summary judgment on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. View "Davidson v. Barstad" on Justia Law

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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