Justia South Dakota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court dismissing an out-of-state subpoena proceeding as moot, holding that the circuit court properly dismissed the proceedings. During a divorce proceeding in Connecticut between Donald Netter and Stephanie Netter, Stephanie served an out-of-state subpoena duces cecum on South Dakota Trust Company LLC (SDTC) seeking information from certain South Dakota trusts administered by SDTC. Stephanie later filed a motion for a protective order and scheduled a hearing with the South Dakota circuit court because the SDTC and Stephanie were unable to reach an agreement concerning the terms of a protective order for the information sought. SDTC requested additional protections. Before the hearing, Stephanie sought to withdraw the subpoena and the motion for protective order, indicating that the subpoena was no longer necessary. The circuit court allowed Stephanie to withdraw her motion for protective order and dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction and on mootness grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the dispute relating to the out-of-state subpoena was the sole controversy before the circuit court and because Stephanie withdrew her subpoena, there was no longer a dispute before the circuit court, and the matter was moot. View "Netter v. Netter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting third-party defendants' motion to dismiss a complaint filed against them for tortious conduct occurring exclusively on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, holding that the circuit court did not err in finding that it lacked jurisdiction. On appeal, Appellant argued that the circuit court erred in dismissing the third-party complaint and requested that the Supreme Court remand the case back to the circuit court for additional discovery on claims related to both subject matter jurisdiction and sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court correctly determined that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the third-party complaint; and (2) the circuit court did not err by restricting Appellant's right to conduct additional discovery. View "Alone v. Brunsch" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court dismissed as moot the order of the circuit court entering a protection order against Christopher Garrigan prohibiting Garrigan from coming within a distance of 100 yards of the children named in the protection order, holding that the order was moot because the protection order expired, and none of the exceptions to mootness applied. Daniel Lewis, on behalf of his three children, sought a protection order against Christopher Garrigan, who was in a romantic relationship with Lewis's ex-wife, after Lewis learned that Garrigan was a registered sex offender. The circuit court entered a protection order against Garrigan. The order expired by its own terms after six months. Garrigan appealed, arguing that the Court should review the expired order because certain exceptions to mootness applied. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that none of the exceptions should be applied to review the expired order. View "Lewis v. Garrigan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant's counsel's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's personal injury action after Defendant died during the pendency of the action and Plaintiff failed to move to substitute Defendant's estate or personal representative, holding that the circuit court did not err when it dismissed Plaintiff's case. After Defendant's counsel moved to dismiss the case, Plaintiff moved for substitution, arguing that the period for seeking substitution had not commenced because Defendant's counsel had not served notice of Defendant's death on Defendant's estate or personal representative. The circuit court granted the motion to dismiss, concluding that Plaintiff's motion for substitution was untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-25(a)(1) does not require service of the notice of death on the decedent's estate or personal representative; (2) the circuit court did not err when it denied Plaintiff's motion for substitution as untimely and when it denied Plaintiff's motion for enlargement due to an insufficient factual showing to support a finding of excusable neglect; and (3) under the circumstances, the circuit court did not err when it dismissed Plaintiff's case. View "Leighton v. Bennett" on Justia 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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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
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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