APPEAL FROM: District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Lewis and Clark, Cause No. ADV 2010-801 Honorable Dorothy McCarter, Presiding Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Brian Morris
Submitted on Briefs: August 8, 2012
Decided: November 20, 2012
Justice Brian Morris delivered the Opinion of the Court.
¶1 The Uninsured Employer's Fund (the Fund) appeals an order from the First Judicial District, Lewis & Clark County, determining that the Fund had breached a contract with Elk Mountain Motor Sports (Elk Mountain). The Fund also appeals an order requiring it to pay damages. We affirm.
¶2 The Fund raises the following issues:
¶3 Did the District Court properly determine that Elk Mountain was entitled to summary judgment on the question of whether the Fund had breached the payment plan agreement?
¶4 Did the District Court properly determine that Elk Mountain could receive consequential damages for the Fund's breach of contract?
¶5 Did the District Court properly deny the Fund's motion for post-trial relief?
¶6 Did the District Court properly calculate damages?
¶7 Elk Mountain cross-appeals the District Court's decision to deny Elk Mountain's damage claim for ten years of lost profits.
¶8 Elk Mountain operates an automobile and motor sports dealership in Helena, Montana. Elk Mountain sells used cars and serves as an Arctic Cat dealership. Bob McWilliams (McWilliams) owns Elk Mountain. Elk Mountain previously employed Timothy Wilson (Wilson). Wilson injured himself on January 8, 2004, while working for Elk Mountain. Elk Mountain had failed to retain current worker's compensation insurance at the time of Wilson's accident. Wilson accordingly filed a claim with the Fund. The Fund accepted Wilson's claim due to Elk Mountain's failure to retain worker's compensation insurance.
¶9 The Fund ultimately sought indemnity from Elk Mountain for Wilson's damages. The Fund struggled, however, to obtain payment from Elk Mountain. The Fund issued liens on Elk Mountain's bank account and eventually assigned to collection its claims against Elk Mountain.
¶10 The Fund pulled back Elk Mountain's account from collection after the parties agreed to an interim payment plan in 2009. The Fund proposed via letter that Elk Mountain pay the Fund $1,034 by the 15th of every month. Additionally, the Fund proposed Elk Mountain make a one-time payment of $3,534. The Fund proposed that this agreement would remain in place until Elk Mountain and the Fund reached a settlement. The proposal specified that the Fund retained the right to send Elk Mountain to collection if Elk Mountain failed to make payment by the 15th, or if the parties failed to attain settlement. Elk Mountain agreed to these terms.
¶11 The parties abided by this agreement until the Fund sent Elk Mountain a letter in May 2010 that proposed an alternative payment arrangement. Elk Mountain rejected the new proposal. The Fund immediately informed Elk Mountain that it would be turning its claims against Elk Mountain over to collection. The Fund asserted that it could send Elk Mountain to collection under the agreement in light of Elk Mountain having made four late payments. The Fund further ...