Gallatin County Federal Lawsuit

For immediate release: April 15, 2021

Beginning on November 16, 2020, a non-jury trial was held in the case of Daniels vs. Gallatin County. The case involved an accident on the East Frontage Road that occurred on January 12, 2017, when a County snow plow collided with Ms. Daniels’s car. On March 10, 2021, District Judge Rienne McElyea entered an Order finding that Gallatin County and its snowplow driver Rick Blackwood were negligent in causing the accident involving Ms. Daniels. Judge McElyea awarded damages to Ms. Daniels in the total amount of $12,410,016.11. In a subsequent order Judge McElyea reduced the award by $750,000.00 based on a prior payment made by the County to Ms. Daniels.

Gallatin County and Mr. Blackwood retained the Billings Law Firm of Halverson, Mahlen and Wright to represent them in proceedings related to the insurance applicable in the Daniels case. On April 5, 2021, the County and Mr. Blackwood filed a complaint in U.S. Federal District Court in Butte against the County’s insurance companies, Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company (ASIC) and OneBeacon Government Risks. The County’s Complaint includes allegations of bad faith and breach of contract related to ASIC’s insurance agreement with the County.

The following is taken from the Complaint against ASIC:

“ASIC did not effectuate prompt and fair settlement and protect Gallatin County and Blackwood through payment of its policy limits in exchange for a release for Gallatin County and Blackwood. . . ASIC refuses and continues to refuse to provide a basis for its failure to provide assurances that it will protect Gallatin County and its taxpayers in the event its appeal is unsuccessful and Gallatin County and Gallatin County taxpayers are left exposed to the judgment, attorney fees, costs, and interest, as well as any additional amounts the District Court orders.”

Media contacts:

Marty Lambert, Gallatin County Attorney

Whitney Bermes, Gallatin County Communications Coordinator