Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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Sometime after loan servicing duties on Robin and Kathleen Jacobsens’ loan was transferred to Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC, Bayview initiated foreclosure proceedings. The Jacobsens filed this action to enjoin the sale of their house at a trustee’s sale. The district court canceled the trustee’s sale, and the Jacobsens amended their complaint to add Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and Montana Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) claims against Bayview. The trial court awarded money damages to the Jacobsens under the FDCPA and the MCPA. After the trial, the court imposed an additional amount in damages, finding that Bayview was in violation of the FDCPA, the MCPA, and the district court’s order in the case prohibiting debt collection by bay view during the pendency of the action. Thereafter, the district court concluded that Bayview committed a second violation of the order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err when it determined that Bayview violated the FDCPA and the MCPA; (2) the district court properly determined damages incurred by the Jacobsens as a result of Bayview’s actions and supported those conclusions with substantial evidence; and (3) the Jacobsens were entitled to attorney fees and costs on appeal. View "Jacobson v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Facing more than $40,000 in unsecured debt that she owed to Discover Bank and other banks, Susan Ossello enrolled in a debt reduction program and signed a contract with Global Client Solutions. Ossello subsequently stopped making payments on her credit card debt, and Discover Bank brought a collection action against her. Ossello filed a third-party complaint against Global, alleging that Global used deceptive and fraudulent representations to solicit her participation in an illegal debt settlement plan. Global filed a motion to compel arbitration and to dismiss the third-party complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The district court concluded that the arbitration clause in Global’s contract was unconscionable and not unenforceable and therefore denied Global’s motion to dismiss and to compel arbitration. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) reserving to itself the determination of arbitrability, and (2) declaring that the arbitration provision was unconscionable and therefore not enforceable against Ossello. View "Discover Bank v. Ossello" on Justia Law

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Continental Partners bought a lot with two building pads from Yellowstone Development that was part of the Yellowstone Club subdivision. The purchase and sale agreement included an assurance that the houses Continental intended to build on the lot would have ski-in and gravity ski-out access built by the Yellowstone Club. During construction, Continental sold the homes to separate buyers, including the managing member of WLW Realty Partners, LLC. Before construction on the ski-out access on the two homes had begun, the Yellowstone Club filed for bankruptcy protection. The subsequent owners of Yellowstone Club informed the new owners that ski-out access to the homes would not be constructed. WLW Realty filed this action against Continental, alleging, inter alia, negligent misrepresentation and violation of the Montana Consumer Protection Act (MCPA). After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment for WLW Realty. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by (1) imposing liability on Continental for negligent misrepresentation, as WLW Realty failed to satisfy the first and second elements of the tort; and (2) finding that Continental had violated the MCPA, as Continental did not engage in unfair or deceptive acts or practices. View "WLW Realty Partners, LLC v. Continental Partners VIII, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident and received medical treatment at Benefis Health System, Inc. Plaintiff had healthcare coverage as a TRICARE beneficiary and also had medical payments coverage through his insurance carrier, Kemper. Plaintiff's medical treatment costs totaled $2,073. Benefis accepted $662 from TRICARE as payment in full satisfaction of the bill pursuant to a preferred provider agreement (PPA) between Blue Cross Blue Shield and Benefis. Benefis subsequently received $1,866 from Kemper, upon which Benefis reimbursed TRICARE's payment in full. Plaintiff filed an individual and class action complaint, claiming that he was entitled to the additional $1,204 that Benefis received from Kemper over and above the TRICARE reimbursement rate. Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, asking the district court to find Benefis breached its contract with TRICARE and that Benefis was liable for Plaintiff's damages. The district court converted the motion into a motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment to Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment, holding (1) Plaintiff was not entitled to pocket the difference between the TRICARE reimbursement rate and the amount Benefis accepted from Kemper; and (2) Plaintiff failed to establish any damages that resulted from the alleged breach. View "Conway v. Benefis Health Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff submitted an online application for a payday loan with Geneva-Roth Ventures, which charged Plaintiff an interest rate of 780 percent APR. The loan agreement contained an arbitration clause. Plaintiff entered into the contract over the Internet and did not separately sign or initial the arbitration clause. Plaintiff brought a putative class action against Geneva-Roth for charging an interest rate higher than the thirty-six percent APR permitted by the Montana Consumer Loan act for payday loans. Geneva-Roth filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the arbitration clause in the loan agreement. The district court denied the motion, determining that the arbitration clause was unenforceable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the arbitration clause qualified as a contract of adhesion and fell outside Plaintiff's reasonable expectations. Therefore, the arbitration clause was unconscionable. View "Kelker v. Geneva-Roth Ventures, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff gave birth to Child at Hospital. Complications arose prior to and after Child's delivery, leading to problems with Child's brain development. Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of Child, later sued the doctor who delivered Child and Hospital. Plaintiff subsequently settled her claims with the doctor. The district court granted summary judgment to Hospital on all of Plaintiff's claims. This appeal arose out of pre-trial rulings made by the district court in Plaintiff's litigation with Hospital. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) extending discovery deadlines; (2) granting summary judgment to Hospital on Plaintiff's agency claims; (3) granting summary judgment to Hospital on Plaintiff's Consumer Protection Act Claim; (4) granting summary judgment to Hospital on Plaintiff's joint venture claim; and (5) granting summary judgment to Hospital on Plaintiff's negligent credentialing claim. View "Brookins v. Mote" on Justia Law

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After a five-day trial, a jury decided that Appellee Bull River Country Store Properties, LLC was not negligent in connection with Appellants' claim that it sold water-contaminated diesel fuel. Appellants appealed the district court's order denying their motion for a new trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the circumstances, Plaintiff could not demonstrate prejudice from Bull River's reliance on the settled-party defense authorized by 27-1-703 MCA, and therefore, the Court did not need to address the constitutionality of the statute; (2) Appellant waived his right to argue on appeal that the district court erred when it allowed Bull River to question Appellant about his unrelated insurance claims; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Appellant's motion for a new trial based on Bull River's insurance-related arguments; and (4) Appellant was not entitled to a new trial on the ground of juror misconduct. View "Horn v. Bull River Country Store Props., LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff owned and operated a ranch with an 18,000 square-foot lodge. Defendant was a custom manufacturer of high-end wood flooring from whom Plaintiff brought wood flooring while building the lodge. After it was installed, the wood flooring began buckling and had to be replaced. Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligent misrepresentation, breach of an implied warranty of suitability for a particular purpose, and violation of the Montana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act (MCPA). The jury returned a verdict in Defendant's favor on all of Plaintiff's claims. The district court then granted Defendant attorney fees as the prevailing party under the MCPA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion when it found good cause to amend the scheduling order to allow Defendant's late disclosure of an expert witness; and (2) did not err when it awarded Defendant attorney fees under the MCPA. View "B Bar J Ranch, LLC v. Carlisle Wide Plank Floors, Inc." on Justia Law

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Pro se litigant Sharon McCrea appealed a district court's judgment that awarded over eight thousand dollars to CBM Collections, a Missoula collection agency. McCrea owned a business which had an outstanding credit card bill with the Missoula Federal Credit Union (MFCU). She was notified that the debts were being assigned to CBM for collection. CBM subsequently filed its complaint to seek the full amount owned plus interest. McCrea answered, arguing that MFCU was unfairly and deliberately targeting her for collection and that the matter should be "remanded" to the credit union so that she could continue making incremental payments. McCrea did not deny owing the debts. She sought discovery of credit card statements and cell phone billing statements to establish she had been in regular contact with MFCU in an attempt to resolve the matter. The district court granted CBM's motion for judgment on the pleadings without ruling on McCrea's discovery request and entered the award. Finding no error in the district court's ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "CBI Inc. v. McCrea" on Justia Law

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In 2007, Scottie and Dawn Pederson (the Pedersons) and Rocky Mountain Bank (the Bank) entered into a construction loan agreement pursuant to which the Bank agreed to lend the Pedersons several thousand dollars. In 2008, the Pedersons and the Bank agreed to finance the construction loan through three short term loans. In 2009, the Pedersons tried to refinance their loans but were unable to do so. Due to alleged failures on the part of the Bank, the Pedersons brought suit against the Bank in 2011, asserting claims for, inter alia, negligence, constructive fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. After it was served with the complaint, the Bank filed a Mont. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, asserting the statutes of limitations had run on all of the Pedersons' claims. The district court granted the Bank's motion and dismissed the Pedersons' claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the applicable statutes of limitations began to run in 2008 because the Pedersons' claims had accrued and they had discovered the facts constituting the claims; and (2) by filing their complaint more than three years later, the Pedersons failed to commence their action within any of the applicable statutes of limitations. View "Pederson v. Rocky Mountain Bank" on Justia Law