ALLY FINANCIAL, INC. Plaintiff and Appellee,
NAN STEVENSON, Defendant, Third-Party Plaintiff and Appellee,
BIG SKY RV, INC., DONAVON FREDERICKSON and other unknown employees of Big Sky RV, Inc., Third-Party Defendants and Appellants.
Submitted on Briefs: June 7, 2017
From District Court of the Twelfth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Chouteau, Cause No. DV-15-39 Honorable
Daniel A. Boucher, Presiding Judge
Appellants: John L. Wright, Halverson, Mahlen & Wright,
P.C., Billings, Montana.
Appellee Nan L. Stevenson: Stuart F. Lewin, Attorney at Law,
Great Falls, Montana.
MICHAEL E WHEAT JUSTICE.
Big Sky RV, Inc., Donavon Frederickson and other unknown
employees of Big Sky RV, Inc. (collectively Big Sky) appeal
from the order of the Twelfth Judicial District Court,
Chouteau County, denying their motion for judgment on the
pleadings to dismiss and for change of venue. We affirm.
We restate the issue on appeal as follows:
Did the District Court err in determining that it had
subject matter jurisdiction in this case and that, under
§ 30-14-133(1), MCA, venue was proper in Chouteau
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On July 31, 2014, Stevenson visited the Billings, Montana,
location of Big Sky RV, Inc., a Montana corporation with its
principal office registered in Bozeman, Gallatin County,
Montana. Stevenson purchased a fifth wheel trailer for $72,
595 at the Billings location, trading in her previous
trailer, valued at $8, 000. She also provided a down payment
of $21, 773 and financed the remainder of the purchase price
through Ally Bank (Ally). In August 2014, Big Sky RV
delivered the new trailer to Stevenson's home in Fort
Benton, Chouteau County, Montana, picking up her trade-in
trailer on the same day.
On November 4, 2015, Ally filed a Complaint for Claim and
Delivery against Stevenson in the Twelfth Judicial District
Court, Chouteau County, Montana, claiming that Stevenson had
defaulted on her payment obligations under the loan
agreement. Ally demanded payment due under the agreement or
possession of the fifth wheel. On January 11, 2016, Stevenson
filed a revised answer to Ally's complaint and a
third-party complaint against Big Sky, alleging damages for
breach of contract, violation of the implied covenant of good
faith and fair dealing, negligence, and violations of the
Montana Consumer Protection Act (MCPA).
Stevenson's third-party complaint asserted that both
subject matter jurisdiction and venue were proper because
Ally initiated this action in Chouteau County and because Big
Sky RV delivered possession of the new trailer, and picked up
the trade-in trailer, in Chouteau County. On February 1,
2016, Big Sky filed a motion to dismiss Stevenson's
third-party complaint for failure to state a claim. On
February 10, 2016, the District Court denied Big Sky's
motion for failure to file the required brief. On February
29, 2016, Big Sky filed both its answer to Stevenson's
third-party complaint and a separate motion and brief for
judgment on the pleadings, arguing that under §
30-14-133(1), MCA, venue was improper in Chouteau County and
the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the MCPA
claim. On February 16, 2017, the District Court denied Big
Sky's motion. Big Sky filed a timely notice of appeal
with this Court. We affirm.
We review de novo a district court's ruling on a motion
to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In re
Estate of Big Spring, 2011 MT 109, ¶ 20, 360 Mont.
370, 255 P.3d 121 (citation omitted). A district court must
determine whether the complaint states facts that, if true,
would vest the court with subject matter jurisdiction.
Big Spring, ¶ 20 (citation omitted). This