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Flathead Management Partners, LLC v. Jystad

Supreme Court of Montana

December 17, 2019

FLATHEAD MANAGEMENT PARTNERS, LLC, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
ROBERT R. JYSTAD, as Personal Representative for the Estate of Gary Jystad, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: October 23, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twentieth Judicial District, In and For the County of Lake, Cause No. DV-17-193 Honorable James A. Manley, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Marybeth Sampsel, Measure Law, P.C., Kalispell, Montana.

          For Appellee: Tyler Moss, O'Neill Law Office, PLLC, Polson, Montana.

          OPINION

          Beth Baker, Justice.

         ¶1 After a devastating fire destroyed Gary Jystad's home, he entered into a contract with Flathead Management Partners ("FMP")[1] to restore the property and facilitate the reconstruction of the main residence. Jystad subsequently declared the contract "null and void," and FMP sued, claiming expectancy damages for the full contract price. Jystad claimed that the contract was void because it did not contain the statutorily required disclosures for a general contractor constructing a new residence. The Twentieth Judicial District Court held that FMP was not a general contractor, and the contract was not for the construction of a new residence. It awarded FMP $191, 876 in expectancy damages. Jystad appeals.[2] We affirm.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In 2016, a fire destroyed Jystad's home in Rollins, Montana. The property also contained a "garage/guest quarters" that were damaged, but not destroyed, in the fire. On February 22, 2017, Jystad entered into a written contract with FMP to oversee the property's remediation and reconstruction. The contract expressed the following purpose:

Purpose of the agreement[:] After a devastating fire November 20, 2016 [i]t is necessary to remediate the site and repair the garage/guest quarters at Dr. Jystad's property located at 39187 Osprey Loop, Rollins, Mt. This contract witnesses agreement between the Parties that [FMP] will coordinate and facilitate that remediation and property repair and that FMP LLC will work at the exclusive direction of Dr. Jystad.

         ¶3 The contract provided a "preliminary schedule of tasks and work groups" regarding remediation of the property and the eventual reconstruction of the main residence. The tasks included securing permitting to begin remediation, installing environmental controls, removing damaged structural remnants and trees, remediating the landscaping, and repairing and modifying the guest quarters so Jystad could live in them. FMP's tasks included, as pertinent to the issue on appeal:

8. Assist Dr. Jystad in selecting an appropriate design for a replacement of the main house,
9. Assist Dr. Jystad selecting and contracting with a general contractor to execute that work,
11. Supervise & coordinate the work and logistics of designers,
contractors, vendors, permits and permit approval, and all else necessary to complete the agreed upon scope of work in a timely manner ...

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