Submitted on Briefs: April 5, 2017
FROM: District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause No. DV 14-340
Honorable Russell C. Fagg, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: William A. D'Alton, D'Alton Law Firm,
P.C., Billings, Montana.
Appellee: Michael J. Lilly, Berg, Lilly & Tollefsen,
P.C., Bozeman, Montana.
MICHAEL E. WHEAT JUSTICE.
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court
Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum
opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as
precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition
shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of
noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and
Larry Reinlasoder appeals the Order and Decision of the
Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County,
issued October 5, 2016. We affirm.
Reinlasoder was the Chief of Police for the City of Colstrip
from May 2004 until May 2012 when he was terminated for
misconduct, including sexual harassment, intimidation, and
distributing pornography through the City's email.
Reinlasoder sued the City asserting numerous claims,
including wrongful discharge. The City moved for summary
judgment and the District Court denied the motion as it
pertained to Reinlasoder's wrongful discharge claim but
granted it as to the other claims. A jury trial began on May
5, 2015, and at the close of Reinlasoder's case-in-chief,
the City moved for a directed verdict. It argued that the
undisputed evidence demonstrated that the City had good cause
to discharge Reinlasoder; therefore, the elements of a
wrongful discharge claim were not met. The District Court
denied the City's motion and on May 8, 2015, the jury
ruled in favor of Reinlasoder and awarded him damages in the
amount of $300, 000. Reinlasoder subsequently filed his Bill
of Costs under § 25-10-101, MCA, seeking $6, 184.80.
After adjusting the amount, the District Court awarded him
The City moved for a new trial and the District Court denied
its motion. The City appealed and, in July 2016, we reversed
the judgment, holding that the District Court had erred in
denying Colstrip's motion for judgment as a matter of
law. Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip, 2016 MT 175,
384 Mont. 143, 376 P.3d 110 (Reinlasoder I). We
concluded that "the undisputed facts" of the case
precluded Reinlasoder from establishing the absence of
"good cause, " a crucial element in a wrongful
discharge claim. Reinlasoder I, ¶ 18. We
remanded the matter for entry of judgment in favor of the
City of Colstrip. Reinlasoder I, ¶ 19.
On remand the District Court entered judgment for Colstrip on
August 10, 2016. The City promptly filed its Memorandum of
Costs under § 25-10-102, MCA, on August 15, 2016,
seeking $6, 971.75. Reinlasoder objected. The District Court
concluded that just as the statute authorized the awarding of
costs to Reinlasoder when he was the prevailing party, it
authorized the award of costs to the City as prevailing party
following appeal. It ordered Reinlasoder to pay the City an
adjusted amount of $5, 354.10. Reinlasoder appeals. We
We review a district court's application of a statute in
determining entitlement to costs for correctness. Total
Indus. Plant Servs. v. Turner Indus. Group, LLC, 2013 MT
5, ¶ 61, 368 Mont. 189, 294 P.3d 363. We review a
district court's denial or award of costs for an abuse of
discretion. Hitshew v. Butte/Silver Bow Cnty., 1999
MT 26, ¶ 29, 293 Mont. 212, 974 P.2d 650.
Section 25-10-101, MCA, sets forth when costs to a plaintiff
are allowed and includes payment of costs to a plaintiff who
prevails in an "action for the recovery of money or
damages, exclusive of interest, when plaintiff recovers over
$50." Section 25-10-101(3), MCA. Initially, Reinlasoder
was entitled to his costs, having prevailed in the District
Court in his action to recover money damages greater than
Section 25-10-102, MCA, sets forth when costs to a defendant
are allowed and states: "Costs must be allowed, of
course, to the defendant upon a judgment in the
defendant's favor in the actions mentioned in
25-10-101." After our ruling in Reinlasoder I,
the City of Colstrip was the prevailing party and was
entitled to its costs as identified in § 25-10-201, MCA.
Reinlasoder argues on appeal that the City should not receive
its costs because, based upon our ruling in Reinlasoder
I, the trial should never have taken place. In other
words, had the District Court granted the City's motion
for judgment or directed verdict, trial costs would not have
accrued. Reinlasoder's argument is unpersuasive. The
express language of § 25-10-102, MCA, authorizes costs
to a defendant "upon a judgment in the defendant's
favor . . . ." As Reinlasoder's cause of action was
an action for damages exceeding $50, ...