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Somers v. Cherry Creek Development, Inc.

Supreme Court of Montana

April 30, 2019

ADAM SOMERS and BREEA SOMERS, Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
CHERRY CREEK DEVELOPMENT, INC. and RJC INVESTMENT, INC., Defendants and Appellees.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 6, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause No. DV 16-1422 Honorable Gregory R. Todd, Presiding Judge

          For Appellants D. Michael Eakin, Eakin, Berry & Bryciel, PLLC, Billings, Montana

          For Appellees Christopher T. Sweeney, Peter M. Damrow, Moulton Bellingham, PC, Billings, Montana

          OPINION

          INGRID GUSTAFSON JUSTICE

         ¶1 Plaintiffs Breea and Adam Somers appeal from an order of the Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County, granting summary judgment to Defendants Cherry Creek Development, Inc. and RJC Investment, Inc. We affirm.

         ¶2 We restate the issue on appeal as follows:

         Whether the 2009 version of the Montana Retail Installment Sales Act (RISA) confers a private right of action.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 On August 13, 2010, the Somers purchased a mobile home for $54, 300 from Cherry Creek Development, Inc. (Cherry Creek) in Billings, Montana. The Somers paid $4, 344 down and financed the remainder through an installment contract assigned to RJC Investment, Inc. (RJC Investment). The installment contract required the Somers to make monthly payments of $552 over a fifteen-year period and to pay a $50 late fee for any late payments.

         ¶4 Prior to any default action filed against them, the Somers filed a putative class action in District Court seeking a declaratory judgment for themselves and all others similarly situated that the Montana Retail Installment Sales Act (RISA), § 31-1-201, et seq., MCA (2009), barred Cherry Creek and RJC Investment from recovery of any interest, finance charges, or late charges on installment contracts for the purchase of a manufactured home. Cherry Creek and RJC Investment answered and counterclaimed alleging the Somers defaulted on the installment contract. Cherry Creek and RJC Investment and the Somers filed cross-motions for summary judgment. On May 16, 2017, the District Court granted summary judgment to Cherry Creek and RJC Investment on the basis that RISA did not confer a private cause of action, but did not rule on Cherry Creek and RJC Investment's counterclaim.

         ¶5 On June 20, 2017, the Somers filed a M. R. Civ. P. 59 motion to alter or amend the judgment, which the District Court denied on the basis that no unresolved claims existed and RISA did not confer a private cause of action. On October 19, 2017, Cherry Creek and RJC Investment and the Somers filed a joint motion to dismiss Cherry Creek and RJC Investment's counterclaim against the Somers. The Somers had become current on their payments to Cherry Creek and RJC Investment and were no longer in default. However, Cherry Creek and RJC Investment reserved the right to pursue new litigation against the Somers should they default in the future. The parties further requested that the District Court delay entry of judgment two months for the parties to discuss potential resolution. The parties did not resolve the matter, and on June 18, 2018, the District Court entered a final judgment granting summary judgment to Cherry Creek and RJC Investment. The Somers appeal.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6 This Court reviews a district court's grant or denial of summary judgment de novo using the same M. R. Civ. P. 56(c) criteria applied by the district court. Lone Moose Meadows, LLC v. Boyne USA, Inc., 2017 MT 142, ¶ 7, 387 Mont. 507, 396 P.3d 128. Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. M. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3). This Court draws all reasonable inferences from ...


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