A Law Firm Of Distinction

Goetz, Baldwin & Geddes P.C. is a litigation law firm located in Bozeman, Montana. It focuses on litigation and trial practice covering a wide range of areas including complex commercial disputes, constitutional claims, plaintiff's personal injury and property damage, products liability, insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, real estate and contract litigation, toxic tort and environmental claims, oil and natural gas litigation, securities litigation, class action lawsuits, and intra-corporate (or limited liability company) disputes.

The firm's clients range from local residents and businesses to Fortune 500 companies requiring representation in the state of Montana. Although a significant part of its practice involves working with or against out-of-state counsel on multi-million dollar cases, Goetz, Baldwin & Geddes P.C. takes great pride in its representation of Montanans and their small businesses.

Practice Areas

Business and
Contract Disputes

We have extensive experience representing individuals and businesses in a variety of complex commercial disputes. We represent both plaintiffs and defendants in matters involving breach of contract, interference with contract, fraud, securities litigation, consumer protection, lender liability, shareholder disputes, and business dissolution.

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

We represent people who have suffered serious personal injuries and property damage. We also represent surviving family members when a loved one dies. These types of cases frequently arise from motor vehicle collisions, environmental pollution and contamination, medical malpractice, and unsafe or defective products.

Insurance

Our attorneys serve individuals and businesses when insurance companies act in bad faith or refuse to honor their contractual obligations. We also represent insurance companies in coverage disputes and related litigation.

Real Estate

Our firm engages in a wide variety of real estate and land use litigation matters, including disputes between buyers and sellers of real estate, easements, title insurance, eminent domain, takings, nuisance and trespass.

Professional Liability

We represent both licensed professionals and their clients to bring and defend cases involving professional negligence and malpractice in many different fields, including disputes about services provided by attorneys, accountants, engineers, architects, and real estate and insurance professionals.

Bankruptcy

We represent creditors and other interested parties in bankruptcy proceedings. We also frequently advise and represent bankruptcy trustees in the administration of bankruptcy estates and recovery of assets.

Class Actions and
False Claims Act

We pride ourselves on protecting Montanans who have been harmed by others. We have wide-ranging experience prosecuting complex class action and False Claims Act cases, such as whistleblower cases against companies that submit false or inflated claims to the state or federal government.

Constitutional Law

Our firm has a wide-ranging constitutional law practice, defending Montanans’ constitutional rights and protecting individual liberties under both the Montana and U.S.Constitutions.

Appellate Practice

Once the judge or jury has made its decision, that is not always the end of the case. We have significant experience in appellate advocacy before the high courts of the state and federal judicial systems. Our attorneys dedicate their skills and experience to preserve favorable results and overturn adverse ones, both in cases that were handled at the trial level by the Goetz law firm and in cases tried by other attorneys.

Montana Stream
Access Legacy

In the 1980s Jim Goetz was approached by a group of Butte sportsmen who were interested in doing a test case to establish the public’s right to use Montana streams. The group was incorporated as the Montana Coalition for Stream Access.

After research, the group settled on test cases on two streams, the Dearborn River, which flows out of the Lincoln/Scapegoat Wilderness area in an easterly direction into the Missouri River; and the Beaverhead River, in southwestern Montana. The main difference between the Dearborn River and the Beaverhead was that on the Dearborn there was some evidence of commercial activity (log floating) at the time of Montana’s statehood in 1889. The Beaverhead, on the other hand, had no early evidence of commercial activity, although it was traversed in the early 1800’s by the Lewis & Clark expedition. More recently, there is plenty of evidence of recreational/commercial activity in the form of use by fishing guides.

One of the primary arguments made on behalf of the Coalition of Stream Access was based on the public trust doctrine and the provision of Article IX, § 3 of the 1972 Montana Constitution: All surface, underground, flood, and atmospheric waters within the boundaries of the State are the property of the State for the use of its people and are subject to appropriation for beneficial uses as provided by law.

After several years of hard-fought litigation, both cases were decided favorably to the Coalition for Stream Access by two different district judges.

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The Coalition also prevailed on appeal in Montana Coalition for Stream Access v. Curran, 210 Mont. 38, 682 P.2d 163 (1984). The Court issued a sweeping decision, holding:

In essence, the question is whether the waters owned by the State under the Constitution are susceptible to recreational use by the public. The capability use of the waters for recreational purposes determines their availability for recreational use by the public. Stream bed ownership by private parties is irrelevant. If the waters are owned by the State and held in trust for the people by the State, no private party may bar the use of those waters by the people. The Constitution and the public trust doctrine do not permit a private party to interfere with the publics right to recreational use of the surface of the State’s waters.

This decision was followed by the decision in the Beaverhead River case, Montana Coalition for Stream Access v. Hildreth, which, likewise, broadly affirmed the rights of the public to use of the State’s water.

In 1985, the Montana Legislature, after contentious debate, passed Montana’s Stream Access Law which implemented these court rulings. The stream access cases are seminal—they established the right of all persons to use Montana streams. They have withstood the test of time.

Goetz, Baldwin & Geddes is committed to protecting public access to Montana’s waterways and public lands through its work for Public Land/Water Access Association, Inc.