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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment to State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company on Kilby Butte Colony, Inc.’s complaint filed after State Farm declined the Colony’s underinsured motorist (UIM) claim submitted on behalf of Mary Ann and Ivan Stahl. The Stahls, members of the Kilby Butte Hutterite Colony, were injured in an automobile accident. Hutterite colony members own assets of the community collectively, and therefore, the Stahls could not own a vehicle in their individual capacities. All of the Colony’s auto insurance policies were purchased through State Farm, and no individual Colony members were listed as named insureds on any vehicle owned by the Colony. The district court determined the the Stahls did not qualify for UIM coverage because they did not satisfy the definition of an “insured” within the terms of the policy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that the Stahls did not satisfy the unambiguous definition of “insured” under UIM coverage in the policy and that they were therefore not entitled to those benefits. View "Kilby Butte Colony, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s imposition of a seven and one-half year parole restriction on Defendant’s sentence for obstructing justice but remanded for the purpose of striking the condition that Defendant register as a violent offender. Defendant was convicted of criminal endangerment and obstructing justice. Defendant was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, parole restricted for the entire term, on her criminal endangerment conviction and ten years imprisonment, parole restricted for seven and one-half years, on her conviction for obstructing justice, to be served consecutively to her criminal endangerment sentence. The Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err by imposing a parole eligibility restriction on Defendant’s sentence for obstructing justice; but (2) erred in requiring Defendant to register as a violent offender where neither of the crimes of which Defendant was convicted are included among the crimes requiring violent offender registration. View "State v. Old Bull" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The district court erred by concluding that particularized suspicion did not exist for the investigatory stop of Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court reversing the municipal court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence related to his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The district court concluded that the trial court’s finding that Defendant was apprehended for a technical violation was clearly erroneous. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court erred in finding from the evidence that Defendant was stopped for “alleged behavior,” which required its own assessment and speculation about the record; and (2) there was substantial evidence in the record to support the municipal court’s findings of fact about the reasons that Defendant’s vehicle was stopped. View "City of Helena v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the summary dismissal of Mother’s petition to modify the parenting plan for her two sons with Father, holding that the district court did not err by dismissing the petition without conducting a hearing. In her petition to modify the parenting plan, Mother noted the children’s ages and their desire to live primarily with her. Father moved to dismiss the motion on the ground that it failed to demonstrate changed circumstances necessary for a hearing. The standing master summarily denied the motion. The district court affirmed, concluding that Mother failed to meet the threshold showing for a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly concluded that the standing master’s decision dismissing the petition was legally correct as failing to demonstrate a change in circumstances. View "In re Parenting of R.J.N." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendant, a Montana corporation that offered trail horse rides, on Plaintiff’s claim alleging negligence resulting in Plaintiff’s fall from a horse. The district court concluded that Plaintiff’s accident was caused by a risk inherent in equine activities for which liability was precluded under Mont. Code Ann. 27-1-727, the Equine Activities Act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to Defendant pursuant to the Equine Activities Act and that Plaintiff’s claim did not come within the exception stated in section 27-1-727(3)(a)(i). View "Fishman v. GRBR, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the Water Court’s order regarding Danreuther Ranches Water Right Claims. Specifically, the court held (1) the Water Court did not err in its orders regarding Danreuther Claim Nos. 41O 156802-00, a right to water stock directly from the Teton River; 41O 156804-00, which represents a claim to the right to divert water from the Teton River for irrigation; and 41O 156805-00, a right to irrigate on certain property north of the Teton River; but (2) the Water Court erred in its orders regarding Danreuther Claim No. 41O 156804-00, the right to irrigate from the Teton River based on certain appropriations. View "Danreuther Ranches v. Farmers Cooperative Canal Co." on Justia Law

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Mont. Code Ann. 53-21-119(1), which prohibits a person from waiving the right to counsel in civil commitment proceedings, does not violate the Sixth or the Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. After the State filed a petition to involuntarily commit Respondent, Respondent advised the district court that he wished to waive counsel and represent himself. The district court denied Respondent’s request. The district court later approved a stipulation entered into by Respondent, together with his appointed counsel, for commitment to community-based treatment, and ordered Respondent’s commitment. On appeal, Respondent argued that section 53-21-119(1) violates his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Due Process clause does not establish as fundamental the right to represent oneself in civil commitment proceedings; and (2) the prohibition against waiver in civil commitment proceedings is reasonably related to a permissible legislative objective. View "In re S.M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of a traffic stop based on the law enforcement officer’s lack of particularized suspicion. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court concluded that that particularized suspicion existed and denied the motion. Defendant then entered a nolo contendere plea to driving under the influence. Defendant appealed, challenging the denial of his motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the district court’s determination that particularized suspicion existed was not clearly erroneous. View "State v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting partial summary judgment for Defendant on Plaintiff’s claims alleging negligence and breach of contract. Plaintiff claimed that it incurred more than $1 million resolving problems caused directly by Defendant’s design work on a facility. Defendant argued that it could not be liable to Plaintiff under the parties’ contract for any amount exceeding $50,000. The district court agreed with Plaintiff, thus rejecting Defendant's argument that the contractual limitation of liability violates Mont. Code Ann. 28-2-702 and is therefore unenforceable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the limitation of liability found in the agreement is enforceable; and (2) the district court did not err in granting partial summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim. View "Zirkelbach Construction, Inc. v. DOWL, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court affirming the justice court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained subsequent to an investigative law enforcement stop. On appeal, the district court concluded that sufficient particularized suspicion of criminal activity existed to temporarily detain Defendant for questioning prior to arrest. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the justice court erred in concluding that the officers had an objectively reasonable particularized suspicion that Defendant had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a criminal offense. Therefore, the justice court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained subsequent to his seizure. View "State v. Hoover" on Justia Law