Williams Feed, Inc. v. State

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Abstract:

Williams Feed, Inc. v. State, 2007 MT 79 - Mont: Supreme Court (2007)

      Williams Feed, Inc. owned a fertilizer plant that abuts a road that had undergone major reconstruction and reclassification to a limited access highway.  Despite the fact that the Montana Department of Transportation worked with local businesses including Williams Feed to redesign the road, Williams Feed alleges that the newly installed curb cuts prevented routine business operations and eventually led the company to shut down just a little over a year after construction was completed.  The initial trial decided that Williams Feed had “not been denied reasonable access to their property,” taking into consideration that the company could very easily have requested any size truck or vehicle from suppliers as well as make use of a pneumatic system to siphon the product from the truck directly into the plant. 

      Williams Feed then filed for a new trial, arguing insufficient evidence, exclusion of key items like the original right-of-way agreement, and juror misconduct.  The district court denied the motion, and so the case was taken to the Supreme Court of Montana.  The court ruled that there was sufficient evidence (the evidence produced was not “trifling or frivolous”), appropriate exclusion of irrelevant items, and no juror misconduct.  The Supreme Court of Montana affirmed the district court’s decision in denying a new trial.  The trial court’s decision stands that the Montana Department of Transportation did not deprive Williams Feed, Inc. from reasonable access to its property.

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