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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment that Dr. David Huebner was not negligent in his treatment of David Bushong. Bushong was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer and died of the cancer in 2009. Plaintiffs filed this action against Dr. Huebner and the Great Falls Clinic, alleging that Dr. Huebner was negligent in failing to diagnose or to take steps to diagnose Bushong’s cancer in 2006. The jury determined that Dr. Huebner was not negligent in his treatment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) any error on the part of the district court in failing to instruct the jury on loss of chance was harmless; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by prohibiting Plaintiffs from asking Bushong’s treating physician whether Dr. Huebner breached the applicable standard of care and by limiting Plaintiffs’ impeachment of the treating physician on redirect; and (3) the district court did not manifestly abuse its discretion in determining that defense counsel’s isolated contemptuous comments over the course of the trial did not affect Plaintiffs’ substantial rights to a fair trial. View "Steffensmier v. Huebner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part Defendant’s conviction for deliberate homicide with a weapons enhancement, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, and criminal endangerment, holding that the district court committed an evidentiary error and that there was insufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for tampering with the evidence. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court abused its discretion by granting the State’s motion in liming excluding a methamphetamine pipe and the alleged drug use of a State witness that Defendant sought to introduce for impeachment purposes; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by giving a “first-aggressor” instruction to the jury; and (3) there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction of evidence tampering. View "State v. Polak" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of conviction convicting Defendant of four counts of felony violation of a protective order, holding that the district court erred in failing to address Defendant’s speedy trial claim. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred by denying his motion to dismiss in which he collaterally challenged the validity of the underlying 2006 protective order and erred by failing to analyze his speedy trial claim. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges at issue and did not err by failing to grant a new trial or otherwise set aside Defendant’s verdict of conviction in this case; and (2) based on the State’s concession, the district court erroneously failed to address Defendant’s speedy trial claim. View "State v. Huffine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court approving S.D.’s waiver of her rights and ordering S.D.’s involuntary commitment, holding that the district court did not violate S.D.’s statutory and due process rights when it committed her without holding a hearing. The State filed a petition against S.D., alleging that she suffered from a mental disorder and required involuntary commitment. S.D. and her attorney signed a “waiver of hearing on petition,” and S.D. expressly waived all her procedural rights listed in Mont. Code Ann. 53-21-115 to -118 except the right to receive treatment. The district court issued an order committing S.D. to the Montana State Hospital. S.D. appealed, arguing that the district court erred when it committed her upon her signed waiver without a hearing or trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that both S.D.’s waiver and the district court’s order committing her were sufficient to find an intentional and knowing waiver pursuant to section 53-21-119(1), and it was not necessary for the court to set a hearing to inquire further into S.D.’s waiver of rights. View "In re S.D." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law

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In this property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Ravalli County’s motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, holding that Landowners did not satisfy all factors for claim preclusion and failed to follow the proper procedure for seeking review of a Board of County Commissioners’ (BOCC) denial of a petition to abandon a county road. This dispute centered around where a Ravalli County road (Road) ended and private property began. Specifically at issue was a gate placed on the Road, preventing public access beyond the gate. Landowners, who owned property accessed by the Road, filed a petition with the BOCC to abandon the Road. The BOCC denied the petition and directed Landowners to remove the gate. Landowners filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging claim preclusion regarding removal of the gate and declaratory judgment regarding the end of the Road. The district court dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no final judgment or order precluding the County from asserting that the gate should be removed from the Road; and (2) Landowners’ action was properly dismissed because they failed to follow proper procedure for county road abandonment cases. View "Bugli v. Ravalli County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision quashing Appellant’s petition for writ of mandate seeking an order directing that Park County rescind its order instructing him to cease construction of his septic system. Appellant was issued a permit to construct and install a permitted septic system on his property. Thereafter, the Park County Sanitarian found several deficiencies in Appellant’s application that would, in the Sanitarian’s determination, allow the proposed septic system to be operated in violation of the Park County Water Onsite Treatment Regulations and potentially create a threat to public health. The Sanitarian informed Appellant that the permit issued to him was voided and instructed him to cease construction of the septic system. Appellant filed a petition for writ of mandate and complaint for libel. The district court quashed the petition, concluding that a writ of mandate was inapplicable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) mandate was not available in this case because the petition sought an order to direct Park County to undo an action already taken and because the Sanitarian’s voiding of the permit was a discretionary action; and (2) Appellant was not denied due process of law. View "Boehm v. Park County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charge of sexual intercourse without consent of a minor under sixteen years old for the 1987 rape of an eight-year-old girl, holding that Mont. Code Ann. 45-1-205(9) violates the Ex Post Facto clause when applied, as here, to cases in which the statutory of limitations expired before subsection (9) came into effect. In denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the district court determined that section 43-1-205(9), which was passed after the statute of limitations for the charged crime had expired, revived the otherwise time-barred prosecution of Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) on its face, the statute is retrospective in its operation; and (2) Stogner v. California, 539 U.S. 607 (2003), compels the conclusion that the charges against Defendant must be dismissed. View "Tipton v. Montana Thirteenth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Hiland Crude, LLC in this declaratory action challenging the tax classification of Hiland Crude’s crude oil gathering pipelines in Montana. Hiland Crude owns and operates crude oil gathering and transmission systems in Montana. The Department of Revenue began centrally assessing Hiland Crude’s property in 2013 and classified all of its pipeline systems within the State as class nine property. Hiland Crude filed this suit asserting that gathering pipeline systems should be taxed as class eight property, regardless of whether the property is centrally assessed, because they are “flow lines and gathering lines” under the class eight statute. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment for Hiland Crude. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Hiland Crude. View "Hiland Crude, LLC v. State, Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part judgments entered in the district court following Defendant’s guilty pleas to felony driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and misdemeanor driving while license suspended or revoked and to felony bail jumping. The Court held (1) the district court did not violate Defendant’s due process rights to have judgment rendered in a reasonable time after entering his guilty pleas by granting Defendant’s motions to continue sentencing; (2) the district court erroneously included a public defender fee in each of its two written judgments after orally stating that it would impose only a single fee; and (3) the district court erroneously imposed an information technology surcharge on a per-count basis. View "State v. Clawson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The district court erred in treating Bryan Larson’s appeal of the justice court’s denial of his motion to dissolve a final order of protection as an appeal of the order of protection. After Shoshon Anderson and Bryan Larson were divorced, Anderson filed for a temporary order of protection. The justice court issued a final order of protection against Larson in 2015. The final order of protection expires in 2019. In 2017, Larson filed a motion to dissolve the final protection order. The justice court denied the motion. Larson appealed. The district court treated the appeal as an appeal of the order of protection itself and denied it as untimely. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in denying Larson’s appeal as untimely because Larson sought to dissolve the final order of protection, not to appeal it. View "In re Marriage of Anderson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law