Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in this dispute between Associated Management Services, Inc. (AMS) and Daniel R. Ruff and Ruff Software, Inc. (collectively, Ruff) over the parties’ relative rights regarding the web-based payroll processing software, TimeTracker, developed by Ruff and licensed to AMS. The district court granted summary judgment to Ruff on AMS’s claims and granted summary judgment to AMS on Ruff’s counterclaims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in ruling that the 2008 licensing agreement was valid and enforceable and that AMS had no right to TimeTracker other than as provided under the terms of the agreement; (2) correctly granted summary judgment on the Ruff counterclaims for breach of the licensing agreement, tortious conversion, contract and tortious misappropriation of intellectual property, violation of the Montana Uniform Trade Secrets Act, tortious interference with business relations or prospective economic advantage, and unjust enrichment; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in denying Ruff’s second motion to compel or claim for attorney fees. View "Associated Management Services, Inc. v. Ruff" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s amended complaint against several lenders, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing some of Plaintiff’s claims but erred in dismissing the remaining claims. After Plaintiff defaulted on her loan on real property, she received at least nine notices of sale. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against Lenders, alleging six causes of action. The district court granted Lenders’ motion to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Mont. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s declaratory judgment claim as a matter of law or in dismissing Plaintiff’s negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress claim fore failure to state sufficient facts to entitle her to relief; and (2) incorrectly determined that Plaintiff’s amended complaint failed to state a claim on her asserted breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and Montana Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) claims. View "Puryer v. HSBC Bank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court staying proceedings and compelling Investors to submit all asserted claims against FSC Securities Corp. (FSC) and Rocky Mountain Financial Advisors, LLC and Eric Roshoven (collectively, RMF) to arbitration. On the recommendation of RMF brokers and advisors, Investors purchased securities in Invizeon Corporation through FSC. After Invizeon failed, Investors sued FSC and RMF, alleging that FSC failed adequately to supervise its registered RMF representatives and that RMF wrongfully induced Investors to invest in Invizeon on various grounds. FSC and RMF moved to stay proceedings and compel arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). After a hearing, the district court issued an order compelling Investors to submit their claims to arbitration as provided in FSC customer agreement forms. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in concluding that Investors knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently assented to the terms of the standard-form arbitration agreements and validly waived their Montana constitutional rights to full legal redress and jury trial; (2) correctly concluded that the standard-form FSC arbitration agreements were not unconscionable; and (3) correctly compelled Investors to submit their claims against FSC and RMF to arbitration. View "Lenz v. FSC Securities Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court staying proceedings and compelling Investors to submit all asserted claims against FSC Securities Corp. (FSC) and Rocky Mountain Financial Advisors, LLC and Eric Roshoven (collectively, RMF) to arbitration. On the recommendation of RMF brokers and advisors, Investors purchased securities in Invizeon Corporation through FSC. After Invizeon failed, Investors sued FSC and RMF, alleging that FSC failed adequately to supervise its registered RMF representatives and that RMF wrongfully induced Investors to invest in Invizeon on various grounds. FSC and RMF moved to stay proceedings and compel arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). After a hearing, the district court issued an order compelling Investors to submit their claims to arbitration as provided in FSC customer agreement forms. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in concluding that Investors knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently assented to the terms of the standard-form arbitration agreements and validly waived their Montana constitutional rights to full legal redress and jury trial; (2) correctly concluded that the standard-form FSC arbitration agreements were not unconscionable; and (3) correctly compelled Investors to submit their claims against FSC and RMF to arbitration. View "Lenz v. FSC Securities Corp." on Justia Law

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David Platt and Steven Held purchased a ranch together and formalized their arrangement by entering into an operating agreement. Later, Held, Platt, and Tim Welu decided to divide the property into three parts, with each party owning 2,000 acres. After the land sale, all the parties entered into a recorded agreement. Later, the relationships soured. When Held refused to grant an easement across his property to Platt, Platt initiated this lawsuit, alleging easement by express grant, prescription and implication, and praying for reformation of the contract due to mutual mistake and fraud. Welu intervened, seeking reformation and alleging that the recorded agreement did not express the intent of the parties regarding usage. The district court reformed the recorded agreement consistent with its determination that the parties intended to grant each other non-exclusive, non-transferrable licenses to use each other’s property. The court granted a written, express easement in favor of Welu and Platt. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by (1) concluding that Platt and Welu’s mutual mistake claims were not barred by the statute of limitations; and (2) considering extrinsic evidence to interpret and reform the parties’ contract. View "Platt v. Held" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the final decision of the Department of Justice that approved, upon good cause, termination of S & P Brake Supply, Inc.’s (S&P) franchise agreement with Daimler Trucks North America, LLC (Daimler). On appeal, S&P argued that the district court erred by determining that Daimler met its burden to prove good cause for termination of the franchise agreement. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the district court did not err in upholding the Department’s determination that good cause existed to terminate the franchise agreement. View "S & P Brake Supply v. Daimler Truck" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court compelling arbitration and its judgment confirming the arbitration award. A few months after beginning work for Home Savings of America (HSOA), Plaintiff signed an employment agreement containing a provision that required the parties to submit any disputes to binding arbitration. After HSOA terminated Plaintiff’s employment, Plaintiff sued HSOA, its CEO and Board chair Dirk Adams, and Home Savings Bancorp (HSBC), which owned all of HSOA’s stock, alleging breach of contract, wrongful discharge, and fraud. The district court ordered the parties to proceed to binding arbitration. The arbitrator issued an award in favor of HSBC and Adams. The district court confirmed the award. The Supreme Court affirmed both orders, holding (1) the parties had a valid agreement to arbitrate, and therefore, the district court properly referred Plaintiff’s claims to arbitration; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in confirming the arbitration award because the court had jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff’s motion to vacate the arbitration award, and the arbitrator did not manifestly disregard the law. View "Tedesco v. Home Savings Bancorp, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting judgment in favor of Bridger del Sol, Inc. (BDS) and awarding BDS attorney fees in this declaratory action filed by BDS against VincentView, LLC. In the complaint, BDS asked the district court to declare that it was not breaching a commercial lease agreement between the parties and claimed that VincentView anticipatory breached the lease, causing BDS damages. The district court found that VincentView anticipatorily breached the lease and the BDS did not breach the lease. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s findings were supported by substantial evidence in the record and were not clearly erroneous. View "Bridger Del Sol, Inc. v. Vincentview, LLC" on Justia Law