United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
KENTON N. PAULSON, Plaintiff,
DUGAN BARR and BARR & MUDFORD, LLP, Defendants.
Johnston, United States Magistrate Judge
parties have filed three motions in the above captioned
matter: Defendants' Motion to Change venue (Doc. 3);
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Doc. 19); and
Defendants' Motion for Leave to Amend Notice of Removal.
(Doc. 26) The Court conducted a hearing on all three motions
on June 12, 2017. (Doc. 39) All motions are fully briefed and
ripe for decision.
Kenton N. Paulson (Paulson) was driving through Blaine
County, Montana on November 10, 2014, when he was injured in
a motor vehicle collision. (Doc. 8) The driver of the other
motor vehicle was an employee of a business with its
principle place of business in Cascade County, Montana.
(Id.) Paulson hired Defendants (Dugan Barr) pursuant
to a written retainer agreement to represent him in relation
to claims arising out of this collision. (Id.) The
retainer agreement provided that Paulson could discharge
Dugan Barr and, if he did so, Dugan Barr would not be
entitled to a contingency fee. (Id.) Rather, Duggan
Barr would be entitled to a fee equal to the reasonable value
of their of their legal services rendered up to the date they
were discharged. (Id.)
did just that after Duggan Barr allowed the statute of
limitations to run on his workers' compensation claim and
on March 13, 2017, he filed a complaint in Montana's
Eighth Judicial District, Cascade County, alleging he was
damaged as a result of Duggan Barr's professional
negligence, constructive fraud, and breach of contract.
(Id.) In this same complaint, Paulson also seeks a
declaratory judgement that Duggan Barr is not entitled to any
attorney's fee from any recovery he obtains.
Barr removed this matter to federal court on April 3, 2017,
alleging the Court has diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1.) In
its Notice of Removal, Duggan Barr alleged that Paulson is a
resident of Montana and that all defendants are residents of
April 10, 2017, Duggan Barr filed a motion to change venue to
Missoula Division alleging the Great Falls Division is an
improper venue for this action. (Doc. 3.)
filed a motion to remand on May 3, 2017, alleging that while
the parties are diverse, Duggan Barr's Notice of Removal
is deficient because it alleges that the parties are
residents, as opposed to citizens, of different states. (Doc.
19.) Duggan Barr filed a motion for leave to file amended
notice of removal on May 10, 2017. The Court granted this
motion during the June 13, 2017 hearing. (Doc. 39) Duggan
Barr filed an Amended Notice of Removal on June 15, 2017,
alleging that the parties are citizens of different states
and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000,
exclusive of interests and costs. (Doc. 40.) Paulson's
motion to remand is therefore denied because Duggan
Barr's Amended Notice of Removal alleges facts necessary
to establish diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
motion to change venue to Missoula Division is the only
pending motion and is resolved by this Order.
Barr argues that the only proper venue for this action is
Missoula Division of the District of Montana because Paulson
is a resident of Flathead County and it is in the Missoula
Division. (Doc. 4 at 3.) Paulson argues that when multiple
counties are proper venues for an action, a plaintiff may
file the action in any of the appropriate counties, and a
defendant is only entitled to change of venue if a plaintiff
files the action in a county that is not a proper venue for
the action. (Doc. 9 at 1.) The Court agrees with Paulson
because Cascade County is one of the proper venues for this
action, and it is in the Great Falls Division. Duggan
Barr's motion to change venue to the Missoula Division is
determining whether a division is a proper venue for an
action, the Court is required to apply Montana law. The Local
Rules for the District of Montana state that “venue is
proper in any division . . . containing ...