By Tim Leeds
District Judge John Warner on Wednesday issued a ruling in a lawsuit over a golf course proposed for east of Havre that pleased both sides.
The suit was filed by the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Rond Community of Oregon against Quantum Five Inc., a company that proposed to build the golf course.
Warner found that Quantum defaulted on a debt of $900,000 to the Grand Rond Community, but also said the tribes committed usury by charging 18 percent interest on the debt.
Warner awarded the tribe $664,500.
"We are very pleased with what the court found," said Shawn Glen of Great Falls, one of the lawyers representing Quantum Five. "Considering the unusual aspects of this transaction the court's ruling was well-reasoned."
Alan Joscelyn of Helena, one of the tribe's lawyers, said the mixed judgment indicates both sides of the court case were carefully reviewed.
"I think that indicates Judge Warner tried to give something to both sides based on the merits of the case," he said.
Quantum originally obtained the mortgage from a Washington state finance company to building a golf resort complex east of Havre.
The Grand Rond tribes took possession of the $900,000 mortgage in 1996. Quantum never made any payments on the debt, although two payments were made by a person not involved in the debt, the judge's ruling said. The payments were applied to interest, but did not reduce the principal.
The property will be sold in a sheriff's sale, with the proceeds going to pay the debt to the tribes, Warner ruled.
Local investors also were awarded damages in the suit, although the tribes' claim has to be recovered before any of the other investors receive anything for their mortgage notes, Warner said in the ruling.
Glen and Joscele both said they haven't had the opportunity to talk to their clients yet and discuss the findings, and what, if any, further action will be taken.
The parties involved could appeal the decision to the Montana Supreme Court.