Justia South Dakota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment dismissing claims brought by Luke McAllister, McAllister TD, LLC (MTD), and B-Y Internet, LLC (B-Y) (collectively, McAllisters) against Yankton County, holding that the circuit court erred in part.Yankton County brought an action seeking an injunction against the McAllisters to cease a business that the County alleged was operating in violation of a zoning ordinance. The McAllisters asserted counterclaims for barratry and abuse of process, filed a third-party complaint asserting an abuse of process claim against Yankton County entities, and added a claim against the County's attorney and zoning administrator. The circuit court dismissed all of the McAllisters' claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment for Yankton County as to barratry counterclaims filed by Luke and MTD. View "Yankton County v. McAllister" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted the Rapid City Journal's application for a writ of mandamus and directed the Honorable Chad Callahan, magistrate judge, to provide the Journal access to any documents filed in Gary Cammack's criminal court file up to the time an order was entered sealing his file.In its applications, the Journal alleged that Judge Callahan violated the Journal's right to access Cammack's file when he entered an order sealing the file prior to the expiration of the condition that Cammack obey all laws for six months. The Supreme Court granted relief, holding (1) the Journal did not have standing to challenge the magistrate court's sentence, but it did have standing to challenge the magistrate court's seal order; and (2) the Journal was entitled to access the court file that existed up to a certain date. View "Rapid City Journal v. Callahan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court against Northern Rental Corporation and Steve Willis in this action stemming from the alleged breach of a lease agreement, holding that the circuit court erred in determining damages.In 2019, Northern and Willis defaulted on their lease agreement with Peska Properties, Inc. Peska Properties subsequently entered into a lease with Mills Aftermarket Accessories, Inc. to fill Willis/Northern's remaining lease term plus an additional term. Thereafter, Peska Properties brought this action against Willis/Northern requesting unpaid rent, repayment of Northern's build-out loan, payment of Mills's build-out costs, and attorney fees. The circuit court determined that Willis/Northern owed Peska Properties $68,730. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court's award was an error of law because it failed to meet the goal of a damage award. On remand, the court was directed to recalculate the build-out allowance damages. View "Peska Properties, Inc. v. Northern Rental Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Department of Labor of Regulation granting Employer/Insurer's motion for summary judgment regarding medical expenses Claimant incurred while being treated by Dr. Donald Corenman, holding that the circuit court erred in part.Employer and Insurer denied coverage for the medical expenses Claimant incurred by being treated for her back injury by Dr. Corenman. Claimant filed a petition for hearing with the Department, which granted summary judgment for Employer/Insurer as to these medical expenses. The circuit court affirmed. Claimant appealed, and Employer/Insurer filed a notice of review regarding an earlier Department ruling. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the Department erred in granting summary judgment denying compensation for Dr. Corenman's medical services. View "Dittman v. Rapid City School District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not err when it granted Nationwide's motion for summary judgment on its complaint seeking a declaratory judgment regarding its duty to indemnify and defend Defendants against a personal injury lawsuit stemming from an accident on their farm.Nationwide issued a farm liability insurance policy for Defendants' farm and cattle ranch operation. After an accident resulted in permanent injuries to a relative, the relative filed a personal injury action against Defendants and their business entities. Nationwide then commenced this declaratory judgment action to determine the extent of its obligation to defend or indemnify Defendants. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Nationwide, concluding that a "Recreational Vehicle Liability Coverage Endorsement" in the policy operated to exclude coverage for the accident. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly granted summary judgment based on the language in the Recreational Vehicle Endorsement. View "Nationwide Agribusiness v. Fitch" on Justia Law

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Robinson purchased grain bin monitoring equipment for his Spink County farm, financed through an Equipment Lease Agreement with Northland. Northland’s place of business is in Minnesota. The Lease included a forum selection clause requiring any suit filed by either party to be filed in Stearns County, Minnesota. After Robinson stopped making payments, Northland filed suit in Spink County, South Dakota, where Robinson resided. Robinson objected, claiming that he intended to pursue claims against Northland and others in Minnesota for the defective equipment. In granting Northland summary judgment., the circuit court treated Robinson’s objection as a question of venue and determined that Robinson failed to make a timely objection in Spink County.The South Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded, ordering the dismissal of the Spink County action. The court applied Minnesota law consistent with the Lease's choice of law provision and stated that the statutory venue provisions have no application to the question of the enforceability of the contractual forum selection clause. Robinson’s actions in responding to the suit do not support a waiver determination under the Rules of Civil Procedure. The Lease does not indicate that the forum selection clause was intended to solely benefit Northland, or that the mandatory language requiring “any suit by either of the parties” could be unilaterally waived. View "Northland Captial v. Robinson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Petitioner's petition for a writ of certiorari challenging the Lake County Board's decision to grant a variance to Hodne Homes, LLC to build a facility to store and display boats, holding that the circuit court erred.In Dunham I, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's denial of Petitioner's challenge to the variance. On remand, the circuit court addressed a newly-raised issue about Petitioner's standing and then dismissed the petition because of a lack of standing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Petitioner was an "aggrieved" party with standing to challenge the variance under S.D. Codified Laws 11-2. View "Dunham v. Lake County Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of violating S.D. Codified Laws 40-1-23 for having a "potentially dangerous animal," holding that the circuit court erred in failing to make the required finding of whether the animal was dangerous.In City of Pierre v. Blackwell, 635 N.W.2d 581 (S.D. 2001), the Supreme Court held that Blackwell was not afforded due process when he was convicted based on the animal control officer's determination of dangerousness. The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction in this case, holding (1) Blackwell mandates that due process requires a higher standard than that stated in section 40-1-1(5) to prove the dangerousness of an animal in a criminal proceeding; and (2) because the circuit court clarified that it would have acquitted Defendant but for the 40-1-1(5) language, Defendant's conviction must be reversed. View "State v. Alexander" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court denying Appellant's amended application for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that the indictment under which he was charged did not describe a public offense and that he was convicted and sentenced in violation of constitutional provisions prohibiting an ex post facto application of a criminal statute, holding that there was no error.Appellant pled nolo contendere to first-degree rape of a child under thirteen years of age and sexual contact without consent against his daughter. The habeas court denied the habeas application, concluding that Appellant's claim was non-jurisdictional and thus waived when he pled nolo contendere pursuant to a plea agreement with the State. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to assert a claim upon which his judgment could be void. View "Lacroix v. Fluke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding Defendant guilty of aggravated assault, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal and his motion for a new trial.Defendant's conviction stemmed from a physical altercation with his girlfriend, K.C., an incident during which K.C. alleged that Defendant choked her. The jury found Defendant guilty of aggravated assault. Defendant subsequently filed a motion for a new trial based on a letter that K.C. sent to the court prior to sentencing stating that the prosecution manipulated and threatened her to testify. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motions for judgment of acquittal and for a new trial. View "State v. Timmons" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law