United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
TIMOTHY J. CAVAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Bull Mountain Sanitation ("Bull Mountain") brings
this action against Allied Waste Services of North America,
LLC ("Republic") and Bayside Disposal, Inc.
("Bayside") (collectively, "Defendants"),
alleging Defendants acted through threats and litigation to
cause Bull Mountain financial damage and to appropriate its
customers. (Doc. 9.) Bull Mountain sets forth three identical
claims against each Defendant: tortious interference with
contract (Counts One and Four); abuse of process (Counts Two
and Five); and malicious prosecution (Counts Three and Six).
Bull Mountain seeks general, special, and punitive damages,
as well as attorney's fees and costs. (Doc. 9 at 8.)
before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings. (Doc. 11.) Having reviewed the parties'
arguments and submissions, and for the reasons discussed
below, the Court recommends Defendants' motion be GRANTED
in part and DENIED in part.
purposes of the pending Rule 12(c) motion, the Court accepts
as true all factual allegations in the complaint and
construes them in a light most favorable to the Defendants.
Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir.
2009). Accordingly, the Court has compiled the following
factual background from Bull Mountain's Complaint.
Mountain is an organized limited liability company that
provides solid waste services to residences, ranches, and
farms in Musselshell County, Montana. (Doc. 9 at ¶¶
1, 3.) Bull Mountain was created to provide these services to
rural Musselshell County residents who did not previously
have access to them. Id. at ¶ 15. As of March
2015, Bull Mountain had contracted with approximately 70
customers to provide solid waste hauling services.
Id. at ¶ ¶ 3-4.
is also a solid waste hauler in Musselshell County, but it
services only those parts of Musselshell County within 50
miles of Billings. Id. at ¶¶ 5-7. Although
Republic has operated in Musselshell County for 20 years, it
served only 11 customers in rural Musselshell County as of
March 2015. Id. at ¶ 9. Bayside is another
solid waste hauler in Musselshell County, and served 18
customers in rural Musselshell County as of March 2015.
Id. at ¶¶l 1, 13.
August 2014, Republic sent Bull Mountain a letter demanding
Bull Mountain cease all garbage hauling in Musselshell County
for residential customers outside of the town of Melstone,
and for commercial customers outside a two-mile radius of the
post office in Melstone, within 90 days. (Doc 9. at ¶
18.) Republic's letter accused Bull Mountain of operating
without proper certification, and it demanded that Bull
Mountain roll-over its customer-base to Republic.
Id. at ¶¶ 17, 19, 20.
August 2014, Bull Mountain filed a Petition for Declaratory
Ruling before the Montana Public Service Commission
("PSC"), requesting it declare Bull Mountain to be
exempt from Class D motor carrier certificate requirements.
Id. at ¶ ¶ 21, 22. See also,
Mont. Code Ann. § 69-12-314. The PSC did not make a
finding that Bull Mountain operated illegally; rather, it
declared the town of Melstone to be exempt and refrained from
issuing a declaratory ruling as to the rest of rural
Musselshell County. Id. at ¶ 23.
September 2014, Republic filed a declaratory judgment and
injunctive relief action against Bull Mountain in Montana
state court. Id. at ¶ 24-25. Republic contended
Bull Mountain was operating in violation of Montana's
motor carrier statues, and asked the court to bar Bull
Mountain from hauling solid waste in Musselshell County
without a Class D Certificate of Public Convenience and
Necessity. Id. at ¶ 25. The action was not
resolved when Bull Mountain filed the instant matter.
Id. at ¶ 26.
December 2014, Bull Mountain filed an application for
Intrastate Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
before the PSC. (Doc. 9 at ¶ 27.) Both Republic and
Bayside filed objections to the application. Id. at
¶¶ 28, 19. The PSC conducted a hearing to consider
Bull Mountain's application on March 2, 2015.
Id. at ¶ 30. On April 17, 2015, the PSC granted
the application, and issued Bull Mountain a Class D
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Id.
at ¶ 31. The certificate authorized Bull Mountain to
haul garbage between all points and places in Musselshell
County, except the town of Roundup. Id.
2015, Republic and Bayside filed a petition for judicial
review in Montana state court, contending the PSC erred in
granting Bull Mountain's certificate. Id. at
¶ 32. The petition was resolved in Bull Mountain's
favor. Id. at ¶33.
September 6, 2018, Bull Mountain filed the instant action,
alleging Defendants' actions caused it to lose business
and inhibited the growth of its business. (See Doc.
9.) Specifically, Bull Mountain alleged Defendants sought to
appropriate Bull Mountain's customers by inflicting
financial damage upon Bull Mountain so that it was unable to
conduct business. Id. at ¶¶ 38, 54. The
Defendants each filed an answer denying Bull Mountain's
allegations. (Docs. 3, 4.) Defendants now move the Court to
dismiss Bull Mountain's Complaint for failure to state a
claim and order judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 11.)