Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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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

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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