Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

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 Barbara Needham in her capacity as the personal representative of the Estate of Charles Kelly Kluver (Estate) and denying the cross-motion for summary judgment filed by Karson Kluver and Genie Land Company (collectively, Kluver), holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment. The Estate filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and for dissolution of Genie against Kluver, alleging declaratory judgment, breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and judicial dissolution of corporation. The Estate filed a petition for partial summary judgment. The district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the Estate in Counts I and II and denied Kluver's cross-motion for summary judgment in its entirety. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting partial summary judgment in favor of the Estate. View "Needham v. Kluver" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting the motion of the Sandra L. Farber Trust (Farber) to enforce the parties' punitive settlement agreement and denying Karen Jarussi's cross-motion for enforcement, holding that the district court erred by concluding that the parties formed a legally binding settlement agreement. This dispute arose from the parties' disagreement on how their punitive settlement agreement should be interpreted. The parties filed opposing motions for enforcement, and the district court determined that the parties must comply with the agreement as interpreted by Farber. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this matter for further proceedings, holding that the parties did not mutually assent to the scope of their proposed agreement. View "Jarussi v. Farber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying the motion to compel arbitration filed by Edwards Jones & Company, Jeremy Kientz, and Nick Ferranto (collectively, Edwards Jones) of post-termination claims asserted against them by former Edward Jones employee Adam Bucy, holding that Bucy's claims were mandatorily arbitrable and within the scope of the arbitration agreements. Bucy, who worked for Edward Jones for approximately nineteen years primarily as a financial advisor, was terminated after an internal review. Bucy filed a complaint against Edward Jones asserting claims for statutory blacklisting, statutory defamation, and common law tortious interference with a prospective business relationship. Edward Jones moved to dismiss and compel arbitration of Bucy's claims on the basis that they were subject to arbitration under Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) and National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (NASD) regulations and two arbitration agreements between the parties. The district court denied arbitration of post-employment claims, concluding that the claims were not arbitrable within the scope of the arbitration agreements. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the arbitration agreements were valid and enforceable, that Bucy's claims were mandatorily arbitrable, and that the claims were within the scope of the arbitration agreements. View "Bucy v. Edward Jones & Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings, holding that the district court did not err in granting Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings because Defendants breached an agreement between the parties. Plaintiff sued Defendants for breaching an agreement between the parties to purchase a 2974 pressurized Cessna Skymaster 337 from Plaintiff for $90,000. When Defendants informed Plaintiff they would not be making the purchase due to their inability to obtain insurance, Plaintiff brought this action. The district court found Defendants liable for breaching the agreement and granted Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings, denying Plaintiff's motion in limine, sanctioning Plaintiff, and denying Plaintiff's motion for pre-judgment interest. View "Kalispell Aircraft Co. v. Patterson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing the amended complaint filed by Employers Mutual Casualty Company against Continental Resources, Inc., holding that the district court erred as a matter of law when it determined that Employers Mutual must defend Continental as an additional insured under a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy it issued to Black Rock Testing, Inc. Employers Mutual filed a declaratory judgment action to determine its obligations to defend and indemnify Continental under the CGL policy it issued to Black Rock. The district court granted Continental's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint, concluding that Continental was entitled to a defense as an additional insured under the insurance policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under any reasonable interpretation of the insurance contract and its endorsements, the policy did not cover Continental as an additional insured; and (2) therefore, Employers Mutual owed no duty to defend or indemnify Continental under the policy. View "Employers Mutual Casualty Co. v. Estate of Buckles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in this case alleging a violation of Article 9A of Montana's adopted version of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), holding that the district court erred when it concluded that Article 9 no longer applied to the agreement between the parties. Plaintiffs and Defendants entered into an installment sale contract and security agreement to buy a mobile home. When Plaintiffs continually missed payments on the mobile home Defendants sent a notice of default and then demanded the outstanding balance on the agreement. Plaintiffs moved out of the mobile home and voluntarily returned it to Defendants. After Defendants sold the mobile home to a new buyer Plaintiffs brought suit alleging that Defendants violated provision of Article 9A. The district court denied Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and entered judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact as to Defendants' UCC violations, and Plaintiffs were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on that issue. View "Christman v. Clause" on Justia Law

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In this action brought by Lisa Warrington bringing claims for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory estoppel the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order granting partial summary judgment to Great Falls Clinic, LLP and denied the Clinic's cross appeal, holding that the district court did not err. Specifically, the Court held that the district court (1) did not err by granting partial summary judgment to the Clinic on Warrington's tort claim for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (2) did not commit reversible error by admitting evidence of the Clinic's liability and Warrington's emotional distress; (3) did not err by denying the Clinic's motion for judgment as a matter of law regarding Warrington's damages; and (4) did not err by failing to rule and instruct the jury that the contract at issue was for a one-year term pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 39-2-602(1). View "Warrington v. Great Falls Clinic, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendants in this putative class action seeking a declaratory judgment that the Montana Retail Installment Sales Act (RISA), Mont. Code Ann. 31-1-201, et seq., barred Defendants from recovery of any interest, finance charges, or late charges on installment contracts for the purchase of a manufactured home, holding that the 2009 version of RISA controlled in this case and did not confer a private cause of action. Plaintiffs purchased a mobile home from Cherry Creek Development Inc. and financed a portion of the price through an installment contract assigned to RJC Investment, Inc. Plaintiffs filed this putative class action against Cherry Creek and RJC Investment (together, Defendants), asserting several violations of Mont. Code Ann. 31-1-231 through -243. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants on the basis that RISA did not confer a private cause of action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the applicable version of RISA did not confer a private right of action. View "Somers v. Cherry Creek Development, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court determining that a stipulated settlement entered into by the parties was reasonable, holding that a stipulated settlement entered without the consent of an insurer to resolve litigation between the insured and a third-party claimant will not be presumed reasonable against the insurer when the insurer has been defending the insured throughout the litigation. The liability insurer in this case provided the insured a defense throughout the relevant proceedings but did not confirm coverage under the policy. The insurer declined to settle with Plaintiffs for policy limits and misrepresented the policy limits. Eventually, Plaintiffs entered into a stipulated settlement with the insured. The insurer intervened to challenge the reasonableness of the settlement. The district court found that the settlement agreement was reasonable, determining that the insurer had effectively abandoned its insured. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a court may approve a stipulated judgment as between a third-party claimant and the insured in the underlying liability case, but the agreement will not be presumed reasonable as to the insurer if the insurer did not participate in the settlement and was providing a defense; and (2) the district court's reasonableness determination was based in part on its conclusion that a presumption of reasonableness applied, requiring reversal. View "Draggin'y Cattle Co. v. Junkermier, Clark, Campanella, Stevens, P.C." on Justia Law

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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