CHARLES S. LUCERO, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Markkaya Jean Gullett, on Behalf of the Heirs and Estate of Markkaya Jean Gullett, Plaintiff and Appellee,
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, a Delaware corporation, Defendant and Appellant, and THE GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY, an Ohio Corporation; THE KELLY-SPRINGFIELD TIRE CORPORATION, a Maryland Corporation; LLOYD'S TIRE SERVICE, a Washington Corporation; TIRES PLUS, INC., a Montana Corporation; and DOES 1THROUGH 10, Defendants.
Submitted on Briefs: April 17, 2019
FROM: District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Cascade, Cause No. ADV-18-0247(B) Honorable
Elizabeth Best, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Ian McIntosh, Marcia Davenport, Crowley Fleck,
PLLP, Bozeman, Montana
A. Crawford, Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, Arizona.
Appellee: Daniel P. Buckley, Buckley Law Office, PC, Bozeman,
P. Conner, Keith D. Marr, James Robert "JR" Conner,
Conner & Marr, PLLP, Great Falls, Montana
Defendant Ford Motor Company (Ford) files an interlocutory
appeal challenging the Eighth Judicial District Court's
denial of its motion to change venue. We affirm.
This Court restates the issue on appeal as follows:
the county in which a decedent's personal representative
resides is a proper venue in survival and wrongful death
actions pursuant to § 25-2-122(2), MCA.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On May 22, 2015, Markkaya Gullett (Decedent), a resident of
Mineral County, Montana, died of injuries suffered when her
1996 Ford Explorer lost stability and rolled into a ditch in
Mineral County. Charles Lucero is the personal representative
of Decedent's estate.
On May 2, 2018, Lucero filed suit against Ford in Cascade
County, Montana, on behalf of Decedent and her heirs. The
complaint alleges three claims against Ford: strict liability
for design defects; strict liability for failure to warn; and
negligence. The estate seeks compensatory and punitive
damages against Ford. Additionally, the complaint alleges
strict liability for design defects and failure to warn, and
negligence against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company,
Kelly-Springfield Tire Corporation, and Lloyd's Tire
Service, and negligence against Tires Plus, Inc. (Tires
On July 6, 2018, Ford filed a motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction, or, in the alternative, a motion for
change of venue pursuant to § 25-2-201(1) and (3), MCA.
On August 31, 2018, Tires Plus joined Ford's motion to
change venue. Ford requested that venue be changed to Mineral
or Missoula County, Montana. Tires Plus requested that venue
be changed to Mineral or Sanders County, Montana.
On October 10, 2018, the District Court denied Ford's
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and
denied Ford's motion to change venue. Ford petitioned
this Court for a writ of supervisory control to determine
whether Montana has specific personal jurisdiction over Ford,
and filed an interlocutory appeal asking this Court to
determine whether Cascade County is a proper venue under
Montana law. On May 21, 2019, this Court accepted supervisory
control and concluded that Montana has specific personal
jurisdiction over Ford in this case. Ford Motor Co. v.
Mont. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 2019 MT 115, ¶
1, 395 Mont. 478. We presently consider Ford's
interlocutory appeal regarding its motion for a change of
The facts necessary to determine whether Cascade County is a
proper venue are as follows. The rollover and Decedent's
death occurred in Mineral County. Decedent resided in Mineral
County. Lucero resides in Cascade County. Lucero filed his
complaint in Cascade County. Ford is a Delaware company with
its principal place of business in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford
sells cars and trucks in all fifty states and has thirty-six
dealerships in Montana. Ford's ...