Submitted on Briefs: April 18, 2018
District Court of the Sixth Judicial District, In and For the
County of Park, Cause No. DV-15-63 Honorable Brenda R.
Gilbert, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: Christopher Kelley, Self-Represented, Emigrant,
Appellee Church Universal and Triumphant, Inc.: Shane A.
Vannatta, Jori L. Quinlan, Worden Thane, P.C., Missoula,
Appellee Edwin Johnson: Vuko J. Voyich, Anderson &
Voyich, P.L.L.C., Livingston, Montana
Appellee Montana Guide Services, Inc.: Thomas A. Marra,
Marra, Evenson & Bell, P.C., Great Falls, Montana
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
Christopher Kelley brought various claims against Church
Universal and Triumphant, Inc. (the "Church"),
Edwin Johnson, and Montana Guides Services, Inc., alleging
that the parties had interfered improperly with his right to
access and cross the Church's property for hunting and
recreational purposes. The Sixth Judicial District Court,
Park County, granted summary judgment to all three
Defendants. Kelley appeals the grants of summary judgment and
other District Court orders. We affirm.
The Church employed Kelley from 1989 until he was terminated
in 2002. As part of a severance agreement, the Church granted
Kelley limited access to the Church's property for
tracking and photographing mountain lions, together with the
right to cross the Church's property to reach United
States Forest Service lands for recreational purposes.
Addendum A to the severance agreement, originally signed on
December 24, 2002, granted Kelley access until December 31,
2014. Kelley alleges that this agreement was modified several
times, in part to accommodate Montana Guide Services, which
contracts with the Church to guide outfitted hunting trips on
the Church's property. Johnson owns Montana Guide
Services. Kelley alleges that Johnson and his employees
harassed Kelley while he was using his access rights. After
several years of escalating tensions between Kelley and
Johnson, the Church notified Kelley in February 2014 that it
would no longer allow Kelley to access its property. Kelley
filed suit against the Church, Johnson, and Montana Guide
Services, alleging breach of contract, tortious interference
with contract, fraud, wrongful or malicious conduct, attorney
fees, and punitive actions.
We review de novo a district court's grant or denial of
summary judgment using the criteria in M. R. Civ. P. 56.
Pilgeram v. GreenPoint Mortg. Funding, Inc., 2013 MT
354, ¶ 9, 373 Mont. 1, 313 P.3d 839. The moving party
must demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact
exists. Gliko v. Permann, 2006 MT 30, ¶ 12, 331
Mont. 112, 130 P.3d 155. The burden then shifts to the
non-moving party to provide substantial credible evidence
that a genuine issue does exist. Gliko, ¶ 12.
If no genuine issues of material fact exist, the court must
then determine whether the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Gliko, ¶ 12. We
review a district court's decision regarding the
imposition of sanctions for an abuse of discretion.
Schuff v. Jackson, 2008 MT 81, ¶ 15, 342 Mont.
156, 179 P.3d 1169. We review the denial of a motion to amend
pleadings for an abuse of discretion. Kershaw v. Mont.
Dep't of Transp., 2011 MT 170, ¶ 11, 361 Mont.
215, 257 P.3d 358.
The District Court found that Kelley failed to raise genuine
issues of material fact that would preclude the grant of
summary judgment in favor of the Church. It found that Kelley
had "wholly failed to establish that the Church breached
any contractual obligation to him." In regard to
Kelley's fraud claim, the District Court found that
Kelley relied upon his own allegations and speculation to
support his fraud claim against the Church and thus failed to
satisfy his burden under M. R. Civ. P. 56. Finally, the
District Court held that Kelley failed to establish any
monetary damages to support either claim.
Kelley argues that the District Court erred in granting
summary judgment in favor of the Church because he provided
evidence of the Church's breach as attachments to his
complaint, such as a February 2014 letter from the Church to
Kelley, in which the Church informed Kelley that it would no
longer allow him to access or to cross its property. He
maintains, further, that the December 24, 2002 Addendum A was
superseded by a new Addendum A signed two days later on
December 26, 2002, as well as by an oral agreement in 2007 or
2008. The second Addendum A is the same as the first Addendum
A except that it extends the access agreement until
Kelley's youngest child turns eighteen. Kelley maintains
that there is a dispute of material fact about the validity
of the second Addendum A and his oral agreement with the
Church. He further alleges that he demonstrated fraud because
he testified during his deposition and in his interrogatories
that the Church made promises to him that it never intended
The District Court did not address whether Kelley had raised
an issue of material fact as to the validity of the second
Addendum A or the alleged oral agreement, because it
determined that Kelley failed to establish the Church had
breached an obligation to Kelley under any contract. Upon de
novo review of the record, we agree with the District Court