Sidney Livestock


Court: Supreme Court of Montana

Date published: Aug 22, 1978


The case is a welter of confusing contentions and counter-contentions. As simply as possible the parties entered into a written agreement dated April 10, 1976, whereby they established between them, a joint venture for the purchase of cattle, to be grazed on lands to be supplied by Murphy. Each of the parties was required to bear one-third of the purchase price, one-third of the expenses of grazing and running the cattle, and receive one-third of the net profit after the cattle had been sold.

These are the facts as we glean them from the record:

In early 1976, Murphy had possession of lands in Dawson County, Montana, by ownership or by lease, known as the “Richey Place,” together with state and private leases and Taylor grazing rights. On March 24, 1976, Murphy entered into a pasture agreement with Redland, under which Redland was to pay $5 per animal unit per month in three payments to graze 1,000 animal units on Murphy’s land for 5 months during the 1976 grazing season. The pasture lands included 8 sections of land that Murphy held under lease from one Homer Johnstone, which Murphy had leased from Johnstone for a promised cash consideration of $19,000. Murphy had paid $3,000 to Johnstone, and the balance of $16,000 he sought to obtain from the Wolf Point PCA by borrowing. The loan from the Wolf Point PCA was to be based upon the strength of the pasture agreement between Murphy and Redland for the lands. Redland had determined to buy cattle in Texas to stock the lands covered by the pasture agreement.



The District Court awarded Berthelson interest on a $43,614.77 sum for 220 days, resulting in a resulting sum of $2,628.84. Redland, who contributed expenses to the joint venture, did not owe Berthelson interest. The court viewed the case as an equitable proceeding, allowing the Supreme Court to make determinations. The appellant was the prevailing party and received his costs on appeal. The court returned the cause to the District Court, instructing them to enter judgment between the parties. The appellant is the prevailing party and will receive his costs on appeal.

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