Submitted on Briefs: March 13, 2019
From District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, In and
For the County of Richland, Cause No. DV-17-44 Honorable
Katherine M. Bidegaray, Presiding Judge.
Appellant Terry F. Schaplow, Terry F. Schaplow, P.C.,
Appellee Ben Sather, Sather Law PLLC, Billings, 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
Patrick Hackley (Patrick) appeals from an order of the
Seventh Judicial District Court, Richland County, granting
William Hackley (William) summary judgment. We affirm.
William owned 1, 535.23 acres of real property-cropland and
pastureland-in Richland County, Montana. In 2009, William
agreed to lease the property to his cousin's son, Ricky
Hackley (Ricky), for four years, from 2009 to 2012, and
William drafted a contract. The contract provided that
William would lease the cropland to Ricky for a base rate,
plus an additional amount that varied depending on the price
of wheat. An initial payment for the cropland of $8, 500 was
due April 15th, with the remainder due November 1st. Further,
a payment of $1, 500 for the pastureland was due November
1st. All payments were subject to a late fee of $50 per day.
William and Ricky signed the document. Patrick, Ricky's
son, asserts he subsequently subleased the property from
Ricky, but no party produced a written sublease for the
property between 2009 and 2012.
In 2013, William and Ricky executed another four-year lease
contract for the years 2013 to 2016, which was similar to the
parties' 2009 contract. It provided variable prices for
the cropland, with an initial payment of an unspecified
amount due April 15th and another payment due November 30th.
It also provided that the pastureland payment was $1, 500,
with the payment due November 30th.
Patrick and Ricky also executed a contract in 2013. The
contract was entitled "Lease Contract - Patrick J.
Hackley and Ricky P. Hackley." The contract provided
that "[t]he cropland will be leased" at varying
prices, with $8, 500 due April 15th and the second payment
due November 30th. The contract further provided that
"pasture rent" was $300. The contract did not state
a due date for the pasture rent but provided, "There
will be a $50/day late fee after December 1st." The
contract concluded, "This lease will be for 4 years,
crop years 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016." While the
contract between Patrick and Ricky did not specify what
cropland or pastureland it was referring to, it undisputedly
refers to the property William leased to Ricky.
In 2013 and 2014, Patrick paid William the lease fee
directly-money did not pass through Ricky. In 2014, Patrick
applied for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
William signed an Owners Certification, on which he named
Patrick an "Applicant/Producer," and stated that
Patrick would have control over the property until December
31, 2018. In 2015, Ricky started to pay William the lease
fees instead of Patrick. On June 10, 2015, William notified
Patrick that he was not allowed to run livestock on
On April 9, 2016, William told Ricky that Patrick was not
permitted to farm William's land. Ricky reported the news
to Patrick. At that time, Patrick was farming 464 acres of
William's cropland and Ricky was farming the remainder.
That same spring, William stated he would not extend or renew
the 2013 lease, set to expire that year. In a July 2016
letter, CSP notified Patrick that he had been removed as a
farm operator of William's property. Patrick believed
William wrongfully prohibited him from using the property.
On December 1, 2017, Patrick filed his First Amended
Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial, naming William as the
defendant and alleging breach of contract, breach of the
implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, negligence,
negligent misrepresentation, infliction of mental distress,
and constructive fraud. Patrick also requested punitive
damages. Later that month, William filed an answer and
counterclaim, alleging breach of contract. The District Court
eventually granted summary judgment in William's favor
and dismissed the case with prejudice. Patrick appeals.
We review a district court's summary judgment ruling de
novo, using the same M. R. Civ. P. 56 criteria. Melton v.
Speth, 2018 MT 212, ¶ 5, 392 Mont. 409, 425 P.3d
700. The moving party is entitled to summary judgment
"if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure
materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." M. R. Civ. P.
56(c)(3). A material fact is one that involves the elements
of the cause of action or defense at issue to such an extent
that it requires resolution of the issue by a trier of fact.
Williams v. Plum Creek Timber Co., 2011 MT 271,
¶ 14, 362 Mont. 368, 264 P.3d 1090; see also
Contreras v. Fitzgerald, 2002 MT 208, ¶ 23, 311
Mont. 257, 54 P.3d 983 (explaining that summary judgement is
an "extreme remedy" and, accordingly, "should
never be substituted for trial if a material factual
controversy exists" (internal quotations and citations