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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting Mother's brother and sister-in-law’s petition for guardianship of Father’s child, holding that that, considering all the evidence in the record, the circuit court did not clearly err or abuse its discretion in granting the guardianship to the child’s maternal aunt and uncle. The child’s mother in this case was killed by Father was the child was in the custody and care of the mother’s brother and sister-in-law. The maternal aunt and uncle petitioned for guardianship of the child, and Father opposed the petition, requesting that his sister by appointed the child’s guardian. The circuit court overruled Father’s objection and granted the petition for guardianship. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting the maternal aunt and uncle’s petition for guardianship. View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of I.L.J.E." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of Protective Life Insurance Company on Plaintiff’s complaint alleging breach of contract and bad faith, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact indicating that Protective breached its contract with Plaintiff. Specifically, the Court held (1) Plaintiff’s claim that Protective breached the implied contractual duty of good faith and fair dealing was reviewable; (2) the circuit court did not err when it determined that Protective did not breach the implied contractual duty of good faith and fair dealing; and (3) the circuit court did not err in ruling that Protective did not commit bad faith in handling Plaintiff’s claims. View "Zochert v. Protective Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of contributing to the abuse, neglect, or delinquency of a minor, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict. As his sole issue on appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court erred by denying his motions for judgment of acquittal because the evidence was factually and legally insufficient to support the verdicts. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of the motion for judgment of acquittal, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions. View "State v. Livingood" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court denying Appellants’ motion to intervene in a partnership dissolution action, holding that Appellants failed to meet the tripartite test necessary for intervention as a matter of right under S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-24(a)(2). Appellants entered into a farm lease/cash rent agreement with Berbos Farms General Partnership. Appellants sued Berbos Farms to recover unpaid cash rent under the lease for the years 2015. During discovery, Appellants learned that Joe and Lisa Berbos, partners in Berbos Farms, had filed a separate action to dissolve Berbos Farms. Seeking to preserve their right to payment of the 2015 cash rent in the event Berbos Farms was dissolved, Appellants move to intervene in the partnership dissolution action. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Appellants failed to show that the claim for unpaid cash rent might be impaired by the disposition of the partnership dissolution lawsuit, the circuit court correctly denied the motion to intervene under section 15-6-24(a)(2). View "Berbos v. Berbos" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the circuit court’s grant of Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law in this action for alienation of affections, holding that the circuit court erred by determining as a matter of law that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence of the amount of his damages. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant for causing the end of Defendant’s marriage. The court granted Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, concluding that Plaintiff failed to present evidence of his damages. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his action, and Defendant filed a notice of review, challenging the circuit court’s denial of his other grounds for dismissal as a matter of law. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred by determining as a matter of law that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence of the amount of his damages; (2) the circuit court did not err in not granting Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on liability and causation; and (3) the cause of action for alienation of affections does not violate public policy. View "Cedar v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the three consecutive fifteen-year sentences handed down by the circuit court after Appellant pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault, holding that the circuit court did not err by failing to follow the terms of a plea agreement because the plea agreement was not binding on the court. Specifically, Appellant argued that the circuit court improperly failed to follow the terms of the plea agreement limiting the maximum prison term on each count of aggravated assault to ten years. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the circuit court was not bound by the terms of the plea agreement between Appellant and the State; and (2) because the plea agreement was not binding on the circuit court, it was not necessary to consider whether the circuit court’s sentences were consistent with the terms of the plea agreement. View "State v. Ledbetter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the dispositional order terminating Father’s parental rights of his four-year-old son (Child) in this Indian Child Welfare Act case, holding that there was no trial court error in terminating Father’s parental rights. In terminating Father’s parental rights, the trial court found that Father failed to act as a caregiver to Child and that his and Mother’s continued custody of Child would likely resolution in serious emotional or physical damage to them. In addition, the court concluded that active efforts were made to prevent the breakup of the family but were unsuccessful and that termination of all parental rights was the least restrictive alternative in the children’s best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Father's argument that the South Dakota Department of Social Services failed to make active efforts to prevent the breakup of his Indian family was without merit; and (2) therefore, the trial court properly terminated Father’s parental rights. View "In re Interest of M.D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of an appeal from the cease and desist license revocation order of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, Division of Banking (Division) directing the immediate revocation of the money lender licenses of Dollar Loan Center of South Dakota, LLC, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain Dollar Loan’s appeal of the circuit court’s order of dismissal. In dismissing the appeal, the circuit court concluded that there was no statutory right to appeal the order and that Dollar Loan had failed to exhaust available administrative remedies. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Division’s order was not a final agency decision that was appealable within the meaning of S.D. Codified Laws 1-26-30; and (2) the Division’s order was not an intermediate agency decision that was immediately reviewable under S.D. Codified Laws 1-26-30. View "Dollar Loan v. S.D. Department of Labor & Regulation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Defendant’s appeal from a protection order entered in magistrate court, holding that this Court did not have appellate jurisdiction to consider this direct appeal. Defendant did not appeal the magistrate court’s decision to the circuit court and, rather, appealed the order to the Supreme Court. On appeal, Defendant argued that the magistrate court clearly erred and abused its discretion in granting the protection order. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Defendant had a right to appeal the magistrate court’s order to the circuit court but had no statutory authority to appeal directly to the Supreme Court. View "Wegner v. Siemers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this consolidated appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court denying Appellants’ motions for an enlargement of time to serve their complaints and dismissing their actions against Appellee, holding that the court’s decision to deny Appellants’ motions for enlargement of time was not justified by the evidence. Appellants commenced separate actions against Appellee by service of a summons without a complaint, and no Appellant served a complaint upon Appellee within twenty days as required by statute. After Appellee filed a motion to dismiss the cases, Appellants unsuccessfully moved for an enlargement of time to serve their complaints. The circuit court dismissed Appellants’ cases, and Appellants moved for relief from the court’s order on the grounds of mistake. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) the circuit court made insufficient findings of fact regarding the interests of justice, prejudice to the parties, and excusable neglect; and (2) evidence in the record showed that these considerations weighed in favor of Appellants. View "Bullinger & Lippert v. S.D. Public Assurance Alliance" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure