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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court’s dismissal of this challenge to a decedent’s pre-death conveyance, holding that Plaintiff may have an unjust enrichment claim against one of the defendants in this case. Plaintiff’s father, the decedent in this case, promised Plaintiff he would leave her half of his estate if Plaintiff conveyed considerable amounts of land to her father and nephew. The decedent, however, left Plaintiff only $30,000 in his will after conveying the vast majority of his multi-million-dollar estate to Plaintiff’s nephew. Plaintiff sued her nephew and the estate alleging fraud, contract, and unjust enrichment. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the defendants. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the denial of the breach of contract claim, holding that this claim failed under S.D. Codified Laws 29A-2-514 because it was not evidenced in writing; (2) affirmed the denial of Plaintiff’s fraud claim, holding that S.D. Codified Laws 29A-3-803 barred this claim; and (3) reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment on Plaintiff’s unjust enrichment claim against her nephew, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed precluding summary judgment on this claim. View "Huston v. Martin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment affirming a hearing examiner’s decision that an exemption from taxation for real property be increased to 100 percent but reversed the award of attorney fees, holding that the circuit court correctly upheld the hearing examiner’s decision but erred in its award of attorney fees. The Pennington County Board of Equalization established an exemption of thirty-two percent for the 2017 tax year for real property owned by American Legion Home Association Post 22. On American Legion’s administrative appeal, the hearing examiner concluded that the real property qualified for a 100 percent exemption under S.D. Codified Laws 10-4-9.2. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in affirming the hearing examiner’s decision that the property was entitled to a 100 percent exemption under the statute; but (2) awarded attorney fees without sufficient information to determine a reasonable fee. The Court remanded the attorney fee issue. View "American Legion Home Ass’n Post 22 v. Pennington County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Sioux Falls on Plaintiff’s complaint for negligence, holding that there was not a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the City’s conduct amounted to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Plaintiff was seriously injured while riding a bicycle through a public park in the City. Plaintiff sued the City for negligence. The circuit court concluded that the City was immune from liability for such negligence claims and granted summary judgment based on S.D. Codified Laws 20-9-20 and -21, which immunize a municipality for liability for negligence in connection with land open to the public for recreational use. On appeal, Defendant argued that there remained a question of fact as to whether the City was liable for his injury due to the City’s gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Plaintiff could not survive summary judgment when he simply alleged negligence as a cause of action and that Plaintiff failed to provide sufficient probative evidence that would permit a fining of willful or wanton misconduct on more than mere speculation or conjecture. View "Fischer v. City of Sioux Falls" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of second-degree murder, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of an investigatory stop. Prior to trial, the circuit court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the stop, concluding that the arresting law enforcement officer had reasonable suspicion to initiate the investigatory stop. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the officer’s suspicion was not grounded on a mere hunch, that the officer articulated facts that supported the quantum of suspicion necessary to initiate an investigatory stop, and that, under the totality of the circumstances, the investigatory stop was based on reasonable suspicion within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. View "State v. Chase" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant, a truck driver, of operating an overweight truck on a bridge, holding that Defendant’s arguments on appeal were unavailing. Specifically, the Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in rejecting Defendant’s argument that the truck was not subject to the weight limit posted for the bridge and finding Defendant guilty of violating S.D. Codified Laws 32-22-48; (2) did not err in denying Defendant’s request for a jury trial; and (3) did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws 23A-44-5.1, otherwise known as the 180-day rule. View "State v. Johnsen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellants’ application for a writ of mandamus to compel the Deuel County Auditor accept the three petitions submitted by Appellants seeking referendum on an ordinance amending the Wind Energy System requirements of the Deuel County Zoning Ordinance, holding that the circuit court properly denied Appellants’ petition for writ of mandamus. The Auditor rejected two of the petitions Appellants submitted, leaving an insufficient number of valid signatures to trigger a referendum election. Appellants sought a writ of mandamus to compel the Auditor to accept the rejected petitions and schedule a special election on the ordinance. The circuit court denied application, concluding that the two petitions were properly rejected because they did not substantially comply with the statutory requirements of S.D. Codified Laws 7-18A-17. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the petitions failed substantially to comply with the requirements of the statute. View "Thompson v. Lynde" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court entering an amended judgment of conviction ordering Defendant’s sentences to run concurrently to his corresponding federal sentences, holding that Defendant had no Sixth Amendment right to counsel in the circuit court proceeding to correct his sentences. Defendant pleaded guilty to kidnapping and assault. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment for the kidnapping and thirty years for the assault. The circuit court ordered the sentences to run consecutively to corresponding federal sentences Defendant had received for the same offenses. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for resentencing, holding that a South Dakota state court may not impose a consecutive sentence in state court when a defendant has been sentenced for the same offenses in federal court. After Defendant was resentenced, he argued that the circuit court’s failure to provide court-appointed counsel in the sentence correction proceeding violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the sentence correction proceeding was not a critical stage in which Defendant had a Sixth Amendment right to court-appointed counsel. View "State v. Red Kettle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this action for summary judgment, holding that an exculpatory clause in a contract between the parties unambiguously insulated Defendants for liability in tort and contract for their good-faith acts and failures to act under the authority granted to them by the contract and contract documents. At issue was the enforceability of exculpatory clauses insulating a third party from claims of negligent design and negligent administration and interpretation of a contract. The Supreme Court held that Defendants, who were hired by the Oglala Sioux Tribe to design a road reconstruction project, were entitled to summary judgment where (1) Plaintiff failed to establish that the clause at issue contravened public policy; (2) Defendants established a prima facie case of good faith, and there was no material issue of fact in dispute on the issue of Defendants’ good-faith acts and failures to act in the interpretation and application of the contract documents; and (3) no genuine material issue existed for trial that Defendants’ design and drafting fell below a professional standard of care. View "Domson, Inc. v. Kadrmas Lee & Jackson, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Larry Weisser, holding that Kayla Fluth’s satisfaction of judgment against Schoenfelder Construction, Inc. did not automatically discharge Weisser. Fluth sued Weissar and Schoenfelder to recover damages for flooding in her basement caused by a waterline leak on Weissar’s property. Prior to trial, Fluth accepted Schoenfelder’s offer of judgment for $7,500 and filed a satisfaction of judgment. Thereafter, Weisser filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that a satisfaction of judgment discharges all other joint tortfeasors from liability. The circuit court granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Fluth did not discharge Weisser from liability if the satisfaction of judgment did not reflect a full satisfaction of Fluth’s damages, and on remand the court must determine whether Schoenfelder’s satisfaction of judgment was a full or partial satisfaction. View "Fluth v. Schoenfelder" on Justia Law

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In this case asserting breach of contract and fraud, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting the motion filed by Portable Lift Equipment Inc. (PLE) for a new trial on the issue of damages, holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that there was insufficient evidence to support the compensatory awards. International Services Group Corp. (ISG) contracted with PLE to build two observation platforms for use by law enforcement at a festival held in Puerto Rico. PLE failed to deliver the agreed-upon platforms and instead delivered a contractually noncompliant platform. ISG sued PLE and its president. The jury found in favor of ISG and awarded both compensatory and punitive damages. PLE later filed a motion for a new trial. The circuit court granted a new trial on the issue of damages, expressing concern that it could not replicate the jury’s calculations, and denied the motion on the issue of liability. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the compensatory damages awards provided by the jury could be explained by the evidence, and the compensatory damages did not impermissibly taint the punitive-damages awards. View "ISG, Corp. v. PLE, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts