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Carestia v. Robey

Supreme Court of Montana

November 12, 2013

DOMINIC (DEE) CARESTIA, and TERESA CARESTIA, Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
JEFFREY E. ROBEY, Defendant and Appellee.

Submitted on Briefs: October 2, 2013

APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and For the County of Cascade, Cause No. DDV 08-268 Honorable Dirk M. Sandefur, Presiding Judge

For Appellants: Calvin J. Stacey; Stacey & Funyak; Billings, Montana.

For Appellee: Paul N. Tranel; Bohyer, Erickson, Beaudette & Tranel; Missoula, Montana.

OPINION

Patricia Cotter, Justice.

¶1 Teresa Carestia (Teresa) appeals from the orders of the Eighth Judicial District Court, Cascade County, denying her motion for a new trial on the issue of damages and awarding costs on a bill of costs that was not properly verified. We reverse in part and affirm in part.

ISSUES

¶2 We restate the issues as follows:

1. Did the District Court err in denying Teresa's motion for a new trial?
2. Did the District Court abuse its discretion in awarding costs on a bill of costs that was not properly verified?

BACKGROUND

¶3 In November 2007, Teresa and her husband, Dominic Dee Carestia (Dee), were involved in a motor vehicle accident in Fergus County, Montana. The Carestias brought suit against Jeffrey Robey (Jeffrey), the driver of the other vehicle, claiming personal injury and property damages resulting from the accident. On November 1, 2011, the case proceeded to jury trial. On November 4, 2011, the jury returned a special verdict finding that Jeffrey's negligence was a cause of the accident. The jury also determined Dee was contributorily negligent, and it apportioned fault between Dee and Jeffrey, with Dee 15% at fault and Jeffrey 85% at fault. Teresa sought to recover medical expenses in the sum of $4, 312.32, which was comprised primarily of massage therapy and chiropractic expenses. The jury awarded her only $872 in medical expenses, and awarded nothing for her past and future pain and suffering or loss of capacity to pursue her established course of life.

¶4 Five days after the filing of the jury verdict, on November 9, 2011, Jeffrey filed a bill of costs pursuant to M. R. Civ. P. 68(d). On November 10, 2011, the Carestias filed their own bill of costs. The "competing bills of costs then gave rise to [an] extraordinary flurry of briefing, " a summary of which is unnecessary for our analysis. On September 18, 2012, the District Court entered an order allowing the Carestias to recover costs from Jeffrey and allowing Jeffrey to recover costs from the Carestias.

¶5 The Carestias filed a motion for a new trial. The District Court failed to rule on the motion, so it was deemed denied. M. R. Civ. P. 59(f). The Carestias filed this appeal in December 2012.[1] On appeal, Teresa requests that the decisions of the District Court be reversed pursuant to Rule 19 of the Montana Rules of Appellate Procedure, that the case be remanded for a new trial, and that she be awarded her costs on appeal. Teresa argues the evidence of her injuries, expenses, and ongoing discomfort was undisputed and the District Court should have granted her motion for a new trial. She further argues that the District Court abused its discretion by extending the time within which Jeffrey could submit a ...


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