Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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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

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Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence and having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Defendant appealed, arguing that the magistrate court and circuit court erred by failing to suppress evidence from the traffic stop that led to his convictions because the law enforcement officer lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the totality of the circumstances led to a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and therefore, the lower courts did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress. View "State v. Olson" on Justia Law

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Developers obtained a conditional use permit to build a dairy on Owner’s property in Brookings County. The City of Hendricks and others (collectively, City) filed a petition for writ of certiorari in circuit court challenging the permit. The circuit court affirmed the grant of the permit. City appealed. Developers filed a notice of review to challenge City’s standing but did not serve their notice of review on Owner. City moved to dismiss Developers’ notice of review/cross-appeal, arguing that Owner was a party required to be served with the notice of review. The affirmed, holding (1) Owner was a party required to be served with Developers’ notice of review, and Developers’ failure to serve Owner required dismissal of their notice of review/cross-appeal; and (2) neither S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-5(a) nor Developers’ alleged alignment of interests with Owner excused Developers’ failure to serve Owner. View "Lake Hendricks Improvement Ass’n v. Planning & Zoning Comm’n" on Justia Law

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Attorney Irene Schrunk represented Mary Ellen Nylen in a divorce and was involved subsequent legal matters regarding Mary Ellen and her new husband, Mark Nylen. When Mark served Mary Ellen with a summons and complaint for divorce, Schrunk advised Mary Ellen that Schrunk could not represent her because Schrunk had represented Mark in the past. On July 31, 2014, Mary Ellen’s adult children, Molly and Brendon, commenced this action against Mary Ellen seeking a declaration that Mary Ellen had gifted them personal property. Molly and Brendon sought to depose Schrunk regarding communications she had with Mary Ellen between November 1, 2013, and December 31, 2014. Mary Ellen moved to prohibit the discovery, citing the attorney-client privilege protected the communications. The circuit court determined that the initial communications were privileged but did not extend the privilege to communications and documents shared with Schrunk after January 1, 2014. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Mary Ellen failed to meet her burden of proving entitlement to the attorney-client privilege after January 1, 2014, and Mary Ellen waived the privilege with respect to certain documents when she shared with Schrunk privileged communications between Mary Ellen and her current attorneys. View "Nylen v. Nylen" on Justia Law