Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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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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In this insurance coverage dispute, the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiff’s claim under the Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA) and the Declaratory Judgment Act should be dismissed. Plaintiff was involved in an accident while she was a passenger in a car driven by Kevin Gallivan. Peter Kirwan owned the vehicle, and Safeco Insurance Company insured Kirwan. Mid-Century Insurance Company insured Gallivan. Plaintiff sued Safeco and Mid-Century (collectively, Defendants), and the parties entered into a settlement agreement. Plaintiff subsequently brought this lawsuit against Defendants bringing claims seeking declaratory judgment and violations under the UTPA and alleging that Defendants used the collateral source statute to justify reduction in her damages notwithstanding that the collateral source statute was inapplicable. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) even if Defendants had a reasonable basis to apply the collateral source statute, the court failed to consider the plain language of the statute and whether it was applicable in Plaintiff’s case; and (2) Plaintiff sufficiently pled an independent cause of action under the UTPA to overcome Defendants’ joint motion to dismiss. View "Marshall v. Safeco Insurance Co. of Illinois" on Justia Law

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Mark Ibsen, Inc., the owner and operator of the Urgent Care Plus medical clinic in Helena, purchased health insurance coverage for its employees from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) through a Chamber of Commerce program. Health Care Corporation (Health Care) subsequently acquired BCBSMT’s health insurance business and changed its name to Caring for Montanans, Inc. (Caring). Less than one year later, Ibsen filed a complaint and class action against Caring and Health Care claiming that they had violated the Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA). Health Care filed a motion to dismiss and Caring filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court granted the motions, concluding that the legislature did not provide private citizens with the right to bring a cause of action to enforce the UTPA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Ibsen may not maintain a private right of action for violation of Mont. Code Ann. 33-18-208 and -212 of the UTPA; and (2) in the alternative, Ibsen’s claims cannot be sustained as common law claims. View "Mark Ibsen, Inc. v. Caring for Montanans, Inc." on Justia Law