PAT M. GOODOVER, II, Plaintiff and Appellant,
STEPHANIE OBLANDER; SMITH OBLANDER PC, SMITH OBLANDER & MORA PC, Defendants and Appellees.
Submitted on Briefs: May 3, 2017
FROM: District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Cascade, Cause No. ADV-16-279 Honorable
Gregory G. Pinski, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Pat M. Goodover, II (Self-Represented), Great
Appellees: Steven J. Fitzpatrick, Browning, Kaleczyc, Berry
& Hoven, P.C., Great Falls, 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
Beginning in 2012, Smith Oblander represented Robert Hopkins
in a law suit against Pat Goodover and Goodover's Great
Falls property management/real estate business. The suit
arose from a home foreclosure proceeding against Hopkins.
Hopkins alleged that after he was evicted from his home,
Goodover converted and allowed others to convert Hopkins'
personal property that remained in the home. The Hopkins'
suit was litigated for approximately three years before the
parties settled in December 2015.
In March 2016, Goodover initiated this action against Smith
Oblander alleging multiple acts of misconduct in the
Hopkins' litigation, including actual and constructive
fraud, negligent misrepresentation, actual malice, abuse of
process, and malicious prosecution. Smith Oblander moved to
dismiss under M. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), and Goodover objected.
On July 11, 2016, after receiving materials outside of the
record from both parties, the Eighth Judicial District Court
converted the motion to dismiss to a motion for summary
judgment under M. R. Civ. P. 12(d). Goodover promptly filed a
M. R. Civ. P. 56(f) motion seeking additional time to respond
to the court's Rule 12(d) order and attaching his
affidavit and several discovery requests. Smith Oblander
opposed Goodover's motion arguing, in part, that Goodover
failed to establish how the discovery could preclude summary
judgment or was material to the motion for summary judgment.
While Goodover's Rule 56 motion was pending, Smith
Oblander moved to file the Hopkins' settlement agreement
under seal with the District Court. Goodover objected but the
court granted Smith Oblander's motion and the agreement
was filed with the court. After reviewing the legal elements
of Goodover's various claims, the District Court granted
summary judgment in favor of Smith Oblander and denied
Goodover's Rule 56 motion. Goodover appeals.
We review a district court's order granting summary
judgment de novo using the same standards applied by the
district court under M. R. Civ. P. 56. Swanson v.
Consumer Direct, 2017 MT 57, ¶ 12, 387 Mont. 37,
391 P.3d 79. We review a district court's rulings
regarding discovery and the admission of evidence for an
abuse of discretion. City of Missoula v. Mt. Water
Co., 2016 MT 183, ¶ 18, 384 Mont. 193, 378 P.3d
1113 (citations omitted).
Goodover argues on appeal that the District Court erred in
granting summary judgment and in allowing the Hopkins'
settlement agreement to be filed with the court. He further
claims that the District Court erred in deciding "the
facts and circumstances of the case" and the merits of
his claims of actual fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and
The District Court's detailed order in this case set
forth the necessary elements of Goodover's claims for
actual and constructive fraud, negligent misrepresentation,
malicious prosecution, and abuse of process. It identified
those elements in each claim that had not been satisfied and
explained why each claim failed. It also noted that actual
malice is not a claim but rather is a standard for punitive
damages. The court held that because Goodover's
substantive claims failed, he was not entitled to damages.
The court's factual findings are supported by the record
and its interpretation and application of relevant rules and
cases is correct. We therefore affirm the District
Court's rulings as to these claims.
Relying on Miller v. Goetz, 2014 MT 150, ¶ 15,
375 Mont. 281, 327 P.3d 483, the District Court noted its
authority to deny a Rule 56 motion "where the moving
party fails to establish how the proposed discovery could
preclude summary judgment." The court reviewed
Goodover's five discovery requests and stated that the
requests were primarily "objectionable requests seeking
legal conclusions, punitive damage information, and
[Goodover's] subjective beliefs about the underlying
claims." The District Court concluded that the discovery
requests were "unlikely to yield the favorable
information" Goodover anticipated and that they had
"no bearing on the [c]ourt's summary judgment
analysis." The record supports the District Court's
conclusion to deny Goodover's Rule 56 motion.
Goodover also asserts on appeal that the District Court was
"clearly influenced" by the terms of the settlement
agreement in determining that Goodover had not prevailed in
the Hopkins' case and therefore his malicious prosecution
claim could not stand. He argues that M. R. Evid. 408 (Rule