Justia Commercial Law Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court
During the dissolution of the marriage of Karen and Rodney Stevens in 2008, the district court entered a temporary economic restraining order prohibiting any transfer by the parties of their assets during the pendency of the proceedings. The district court awarded Rodney all right and title in a truck titled in Karen's name and ordered Karen to transfer title to Rodney. Karen later transferred the title to her mother. In 2010 the district court issued a written order declining to hold Karen in contempt for her violation of the economic restraining order. Instead, the court ordered Karen to remove any liens on the truck and to secure a new certificate of title and ruled if Karen refused to do so, a judgment would be entered against her in the amount of $21,000. Later, Karen retook possession of the vehicle. Rodney appealed. The Supreme Court determined that the court acted within its discretion in refusing to issue a contempt order but did not have authority to modify the distribution of property under its prior decree without notice to both parties and an opportunity to be heard. However, because Rodney was not prejudiced by the district court's ruling, the judgment was affirmed.
Grizzly Security Armored Express, which provides security and armored services in Montana, filed suit against The Armored Group (TAG), which sells armored vehicles statewide and internationally, to recover damages from a sale of an allegedly defective vehicle. TAG failed to file a timely answer, and Grizzly moved for entry of default. The district court entered a default judgment against TAG, and the Supreme Court reversed. On remand, the district court granted TAG's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Grizzly appealed. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the district court had personal jurisdiction over TAG because (1) TAG transacted sufficient business in Montana to support the extension of long-arm jurisdiction over TAG under Mont. R. Civ. P. 4B(1)(a), and (2) the Montana court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over TAG through long-arm provisions does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. Reversed and remanded.
In 2000, Dick Anderson Construction (DAC) entered into a contract with Monroe Construction to do construction work on Paws Up Ranch, which was owned by Monroe Property. When each phase of the construction was completed, Monroe Construction sold that phase to Monroe Property. When DAC was not paid for the last $800,000 of its billings, it filed a construction lien to secure its claim. In 2001, DAC sued Monroe Property to foreclose the lien. On remand to the district court, Monroe Property argued since it was not a party to the construction contract with DAC, it was not a contracting owner against whom the lien could be foreclosed under the construction lien statutes. The district court granted Monroe Property's motion for summary judgment, and DAC appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding the facts of the case demonstrated that Monroe Construction was the actual agent of Monroe Property for the purpose of engaging DAC to complete construction work on the ranch. Therefore, under the statutes, Monroe Property, acting through its agent Monroe Construction, was a contracting owner with regard to the construction contract with DAC.