IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF: HEATHER M. REMITZ, Petitioner and Appellant, and RICK S. REMITZ, Respondent and Appellee.
Submitted on Briefs: October 24, 2018
FROM: District Court of the Eighteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Gallatin, Cause No. DR-11-147C
Honorable John C. Brown, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Christopher J. Gillette, The Law Office of
Christopher J. Gillette, PC, Bozeman, Montana
Appellee: Penni L. Chisholm, Chisholm & Chisholm P.C.,
Columbia Falls, Montana
Petitioner Heather M. Remitz (Heather) appeals from a M. R.
Civ. P. 60 Motion for Relief from Judgment (Rule 60 Motion)
deemed denied by the passage of time in the Eighteenth
Judicial District Court, Gallatin County. We vacate the
District Court's denial of Heather's Rule 60 Motion
and remand to the District Court (not the Standing Master) to
conduct limited discovery, hold a hearing on the Rule 60
Motion, and issue a ruling thereon.
We restate the issue on appeal as:
the District Court erred in denying Heather's M. R. Civ.
P. 60 Motion for Relief from Judgment?
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Heather and Respondent Rick S. Remitz (Rick) were married in
1994, separated in 2009, and have two children now over the
age of majority. Heather filed for divorce in April 2011,
which included the standard economic restraining order
preventing either party from "in any way disposing of
any property." The parties' primary asset was their
51% interest in a medical equipment business (Business)
valued by Rick's expert at $2, 248, 000 in August 2013.
Trial was held in March 2014 before the district's
Standing Master. During trial Rick's valuation expert
testified to his valuation created seven months prior.
Heather did not submit evidence from her own Business
In May 2017-more than three years after trial-the Standing
Master issued her Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and
Final Decree of Dissolution (Decree). In the Decree, the
Standing Master accepted the $2, 248, 000 valuation and
awarded the parties' ownership in the business to Rick.
The Decree listed and equally divided the parties'
interest in all marital assets and debts including the
Business, awarding each party exactly half of the marital
estate (each receiving $817, 074).
In June 2017, Rick filed Specific Objections to the Decree
which argued, amongst other things, the Business should have
been excluded as a marital asset and some of Heather's
premarital and gifted assets should have counted as marital.
On August 28, 2017, Rick's counsel advised Heather's
counsel the Business was being sold, but provided no details
such as price. On September 8, 2017, Rick withdrew his
objections. On September 12, 2017, the Decree was adopted as
a final order of the court which lifted the economic
restraining order in place since the case was filed in 2011.
Less than a month later, on October 9, 2017, the business
sold for between $20 million and $32 million,  ten times the
valuation in the Decree. Heather discovered the sale in
November 2017, and promptly filed her Rule 60 Motion on
December 4, 2017.
In her Rule 60 Motion Heather alleges she should be granted
relief from judgment based on subsections (b)(1) mistake,
inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; and (b)(2)
newly discovered evidence; or (b)(6) the catchall provision
("any other reason that justifies relief").
Specifically, the motion requests the following relief: 1)
vacating the property terms of the Decree, 2) allowing
additional discovery as requested in the motion, 3) requiring
Rick to preserve any proceeds of sale of the Business in his
possession or control, 4) requiring Rick to account for
proceeds of the sale of the Business, and 5) setting a
hearing to address the division of sales proceeds of the
Business. The motion ...