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Boadle Road - 2003 -2010
June 2010 Hearing
Boadle Road Settled After 15 Years of LitigationMajor Victory In Montana Supreme Court
Nov. 15, 2015
On October 15th the Montana Supreme Court delivered a stunning 8 to 1 decision Boadle Decision in favor of PLWA in a case that has been around for 15 years.
The court ruled that the defendant, a Mr. Jones, had flagrantly and repeatedly violated court rulings by closing roads and tearing out a bridge on a public road. The court agreed with a lower court jury finding that Mr. Jones not only had to come up with funds to rebuild the bridge but also pay damages and reimburse PLWA for attorney fees. The attorney fees award is unusual but the court did so because the defendant acted with malice and "intent to do damage" to PLWA. They said "Given the now-15-year- history of this case, Jones' continuous efforts to thwart the public's easement rights and his persistent disregard of the multiple judicial decisions rendered in favor of PLWA, the law fully supports the award of attorney fees."
It all started in 2000 when hunters and the late PLWA stalwart, Jim McDermand of Great Falls (above), noticed the road to one of their favorite duck hunting spots, Pishkun Reservoir, was blocked and posted. PLWA sued and won a judgment that the Boadle Road was indeed a public road. But Jones persisted and blocked a further section of the road known as the Canal road. Again PLWA sued and got a favorable judgment.
In the meantime, in an odd twist to the story, the Boadle road bridge burned down and Jones replaced it. But apparently angered by the road decisions, Jones tore out his replacement bridge on the basis that if he built it he could do whatever he wanted. Image on right is what it looked like:
PLWA again went to the courts arguing that one cannot destroy an improvement on a public road regardless of how it came about. PLWA also claimed "tortuous interference" with the road and asked for damages and attorney fees. We will spare the reader of all the details of the case in and out of District Court and arbitration but suffice it to say that PLWA eventually prevailed on all counts as noted above. Altogether it went to the Montana Supreme court 5 times. (Do you suppose they might be getting a little annoyed ?)
Settlement funds are dedicated to bridge replacement and, when complete, the road will again be open to the public. But you never know. Maybe Mr. Jones wants to spend more money and waste more court time on this?
In the meantime maybe, just maybe, the court has sent a message to the privateers not to mess around with your public property rights. As Rodney King said we "just want to get along."
( The roads provide access to Pishkun Lake Wildlife Refuge, the 918,000 acre Rocky Mountain Front Conservation area, Tunnel Lake, and several Montana state sections - some of the wildest public land in the U.S.)
Boadle Road Bridge Remova
Former site of bridge on Boadle Rd.