Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission issuing an order accepting the certification of TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP that it continued to meet permit conditions, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to hear Appellants’ appeals. The Commission granted a permit to TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline in South Dakota. None of the parties in that proceeding appealed the order issuing a permit. Because TransCanada was unable to commence construction within four years, it certified that it continued to meet the permit conditions, as required by S.D. Codified Laws 49-41B-27. After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the Commission accepted the certification. Appellants - the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and Dakota Rural Action - each appealed. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court consolidated the appeals, vacated the circuit court’s decision, and dismissed the appeal, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeals. View "In re Keystone XL Pipeline" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellant’s appeal from a letter sent by the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles denying Appellant’s request to review her parole date again. Appellant, a prison inmate, did not appeal from the Board’s adjudication of her initial parole-eligibility date. Two years later, Appellant requested the Board to reconsider. The Board declined, and Appellant filed an administrative appeal in circuit court. The circuit court dismissed the appeal with prejudice, concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because (1) the Board’s letter was not an appealable “decision, order, or action” within the meaning of S.D. Codified Laws 1-26-30.2; and (2) it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to review the Board’s final parole determination. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) the Board’s letter declining an additional review was not a final decision in a contested case that could be appealed to the circuit court; and (2) because Appellant did not appeal the Board’s final determination within thirty days as required by S.D. Codified Laws 1-26-31, the circuit court correctly concluded that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear Appellant’s appeal. View "Peterson v. South Dakota Board of Pardons & Paroles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from a circuit court’s order revoking the clerk of court’s issuance of letters of appointment and the clerk’s statement of informal probate and appointment of personal representative, holding that the circuit court’s order was not a final order from which an appeal can be taken. On appeal, Appellant argued that the circuit court erred in its revocation without giving Appellant notice or an opportunity to be heard. The Supreme Court held that, until further proceedings determined the rights of the parties as it related to the appointment of a personal representative and to the probate of the decedent’s will, the Court did not have appellate jurisdiction under S.D. Codified Laws 15-26A-3(2). View "Estate of Stanton W. Fox" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for a stay of a circuit court’s final judgment pending appeal and dismissed his appeal from a non-final judgment. In this property dispute, Plaintiff sued Defendant, and Defendant counterclaimed. The Supreme Court dismissed the complaint on summary judgment. Neither the counterclaims nor the pending motions for attorney’s fees were addressed, however. Defendant appealed. Thereafter, the circuit court filed a final judgment disposing of all pending claims. Plaintiff filed a motion to stay execution of that part of the circuit court’s final judgment ordering immediate release of the lis pendens Plaintiff had previously filed as to the property at issue in this case. The circuit court denied the stay. Plaintiff then moved the Supreme Court for special relief to grant the stay and filed a second notice of appeal as to the circuit court’s final judgment. The Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s first appeal of the summary judgment because it was not final but granted his motion for special relief and stayed execution of the lower court’s judgment relating to the lis pendens, holding that the circuit court should have granted Plaintiff’s motion for a stay under the circumstances of this case. View "Healy v. Osborne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellants’ denial of their request for preliminary injunctive relief against River Bluff Estates, LLC, holding that Appellants did not demonstrate the need for preliminary injunctive relief. Appellants filed a complaint against River Bluff, alleging nuisance (increased drainage due to physical changes to River Bluff’s property) and trespass (rain events causing an encroachment of the slope onto Appellants’ properties). Appellants requested preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and damages. The circuit court denied preliminary injunctive relief. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of preliminary injunctive relief and remanded for further proceedings on Appellants’ legal and equitable claims, holding (1) the circuit court erred in concluding that monetary compensation would afford Appellants adequate relief in this case, but nevertheless, Appellants failed to demonstrate that they were likely to suffer irreparable harm prior to a final disposition of the case on its merits; and (2) the circuit court’s factual findings and legal conclusions were not preclusive as to the merits of Appellants’ request for permanent injunctive relief. View "Hedlund v. River Bluff Estates, LLC" on Justia Law

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Sally Richardson alleged that her husband Michael forced her to work as a prostitute during the course of their marriage. Sally also alleged that Michael emotionally, physically, and sexually abused her, causing both humiliation and serious health problems. Sally divorced Michael on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, reserving by stipulation the right to bring other nonproperty causes of action against him. Following the divorce, Sally brought suit against Michael, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). The court, bound by South Dakota Supreme Court precedent in Pickering v. Pickering, 434 N.W.2d 758, (S.D. 1989), dismissed Sally’s suit for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Pickering held IIED was unavailable as a matter of public policy when it was predicated on conduct leading to the dissolution of marriage. Finding that Pickering was “ripe for reexamination for a number of reasons,” the South Dakota Supreme Court overruled Pickering, and reversed and remanded dismissal of Sally’s suit. View "Richardson v. Richardson" on Justia Law

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Dallas Schott, owner of Corson County Feeders, Inc., sued South Dakota Wheat Growers Association (SDWG), alleging its agronomist incorrectly prescribed a herbicide that Schott sprayed on his 2014 sunflower crop. The herbicide was not labeled for use on all of Schott’s sunflowers, and 1,200 acres were destroyed. The circuit court granted SDWG summary judgment, ruling that Schott assumed the risk. After review, the South Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded after finding there were disputed issues of fact concerning Schott’s knowledge and appreciation of the risk. View "Schott v. So. Dakota Wheat Growers Assn." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court denying Lawrence County’s motion to join the United States as an indispensable party to this action filed by various Landowners requesting that the County maintain a road providing access to their homes. The County denied the Landowners’ request. Petitioner appealed the County’s action, and the County moved to join the United States as an indispensable party. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the United States Forest Service was not an indispensable party to the action because the County failed to follow the proper procedure to grant an easement in the road to the Forest Service. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court committed clear error in ruling on the easement without first determining whether the United States was a party that should have been joined if feasible. View "Oyen v. Lawrence County Commission" on Justia Law

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Steven Wipf (Plaintiff) sued Dr. Terry Alstiel and Regional Health Physicians Inc. (Defendants) for medical malpractice, alleging that Dr. Altstiel accidentally perforated Wipf’s small bowel during a laparoscopic hernia repair and that Dr. Altstiel failed to inspect and find the perforations before completing the surgery. During discovery, Wipf sought access to operative and postoperative notices relating to follow-up care of some of Dr. Altstiel’s patients who had received laparoscopic hernia repairs. The circuit court found those records relevant and ordered Defendants to partially redact and produce the redacted records. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court did not adequately ensure that privileged information was not disclosed. Remanded for the circuit court to consider whether additional safeguards will ensure patient anonymity and, if so, the court must enter a protective order before disclosure. View "Wipf v. Altstiel" on Justia Law

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Two members of a seven-member trust succession committee petitioned the circuit court for court supervision of the trust. Marvin M. Schwan owned and operated Schwan’s Sales Enterprises (a.k.a. The Schwan Food Company) until his death in 1993. In 1992, Marvin had created the Marvin M. Schwan Charitable Foundation. The Trust Instrument named seven beneficiaries: Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, Wisconsin Lutheran College Conference, Inc., Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Bethany Lutheran College, Inc., International Lutheran Laymen’s League, and Wisconsin Lutheran Synod Kingdom Workers, Inc. After Marvin’s death, the Trustees redeemed all Marvin’s stock in the company and funded the Foundation with assets valuing nearly $1 billion. The parties did not dispute that certain investments made by the Trustees over several years caused approximately $600 million in losses to the Foundation. These losses reduced the value of the Foundation’s assets and reduced the Foundation’s distributions to the Beneficiaries. According to Committee members Paul and Mark Schwan, the Trustees did not inform the Committee until 2013 that the Foundation had experienced such significant losses from the investments. In June 2014, Mark and Paul petitioned the circuit court for instruction and supervision under SDCL 21-22-9. Paul and Mark asked the court to address whether the Committee had a duty under the Trust Instrument to request an accounting from the Trustees related to the Trustees’ investment losses, whether a majority vote of the Committee was required in order to request an accounting, whether the Committee members that were also Trustees had a conflict of interest, whether the Committee had a fiduciary duty to request an accounting, and whether Paul and Mark as individual Committee members could request an accounting. After a hearing, the circuit court dismissed the petition because it concluded that the two members did not meet the classifications of persons able to petition the circuit court for supervision. After its review of the trial court’s decision, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The Supreme Court found the trial court did not conclude that the Trustees, Attorney General, or Beneficiaries established good cause to the contrary related to the merits of Paul and Mark’s petition. The court did not hold a hearing on the merits of Paul and Mark’s petition, noting that it would not address arguments raised by the Trustees or Paul and Mark because it concluded that Paul and Mark did not meet any classification entitled to seek court supervision. The Supreme Court remanded to the trial court to "fix a time and place for a hearing thereon, . . . and upon such hearing, enter an order assuming supervision unless good cause to the contrary is shown." View "Schwan v. Burgdorf" on Justia Law