Articles Posted in Contracts

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s determination that a confidential settlement agreement entered into between the City of Sioux Falls and several contractors that built the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls was not open to public inspection under S.D. Codified Laws 1-27. A reporter for the Argus Leader sought a copy of the agreement. After the City denied the request the Argus Leader commenced this action seeing an order compelling the City to provide a copy. The circuit court entered judgment for the City. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the settlement contract at issue did not meet the requirements under section 1-27-1.5(20), and therefore, it is a public record open to inspection. View "Argus Leader Media v. Hogstad" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Rights, Contracts

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s determination that Owners Insurance Company did not have a duty to defend Lowery Construction & Concrete, LLC in an action filed by homeowners Tony and Stephanie Hague. The Hagues sued Lowery for breach of contract, breach of implied warranty, and negligent construction. Lowery filed a declaratory judgment action against Owners seeking a declaration that Owners had a duty to defend Lowery. The circuit court determined that coverage was excluded because the damage to the Hagues’ home was caused by Lowery’s defective work. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Owners had a duty to defend Lowery because the Hagues’ complaint arguably stated a claim covered under Lowery’s commercial general liability policy. View "Lowery Construction & Concrete, LLC v. Owners Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this insurance coverage dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the denial of summary judgment in favor of Insurer but reversed the denial of summary judgment in favor of General Contractor. Homeowners sued General Contractor and Subcontractor for damages to their home. General Contractor, which was insured under a commercial general liability policy (CGL), requested defense and indemnification from Insurer. Insurer defended General Contractor under a reservation of rights. Insurer then filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a judgment that the CGL policy did not provide coverage for General Contractor in the underlying case. General Contractor and Insurer filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The circuit court denied the motions on the ground that a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding the foreseeability of Homeowners’ damages. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment denying General Contractor’s motion and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the CGL policy required Insurer to defend General Contractor against Homeowners’ suit for damages and that factual questions regarding foreseeability were not relevant to the existence of coverage under the policy. View "Owners Insurance Co. v. Tibke Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s dismissal of Standard Fire Insurance Co.’s case against Continental Resources Inc. pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-12(b)(5). Standard Fire brought suit seeking statutory reimbursement or, in the alternative, equitable subrogation of workers’ compensation benefits paid to an employee. The circuit court found that the terms of a settlement agreement barred further litigation and that res judicata applied. The Supreme Court disagreed and remanded the matter for further proceedings, holding that the circuit court erred when it determined that the plain language of the settlement agreement barred Standard Fire’s claim. View "Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Continental Resources, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Ivey and Kornmann, a partnership, on the Partnership’s action brought against William Welk to collect on a debt, holding that the circuit court incorrectly resolved two preliminary questions of law that foreclosed the court’s analysis of numerous additional issues of law and fact that both parties raised on appeal. When the Partnership commenced this action, Welk raised numerous affirmative defenses and also filed counterclaims against the Partnership for breach of contract, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the Partnership on its action and on Welk’s affirmative defenses and counterclaims. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the circuit court erred in resolving the questions of law regarding the legal effect of the partnership agreement and the viability of Welk’s counterclaims and that numerous unaddressed issues must be addressed by the circuit court. View "Ivey & Kornmann v. Welk" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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Buyers and Sellers entered into a contract for deed of property. The contract for deed indicated that Buyers were purchasing the home “as is” and that neither party made any representations or warranties except those made in the contract for deed. Within a year after moving into the home, Buyers discovered major defects on the property. Buyers brought suit against Sellers alleging fraud and failure to disclose defects. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Sellers. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) the circuit court erred when it applied the parol evidence rule to exclude Buyers’ extrinsic evidence and when it granted summary judgment on Buyers’ fraud claims; and (2) the circuit court erred when it granted summary judgment on their claim that Sellers violated S.D. Codified Laws 43-4-38. View "Oxton v. Rudland" on Justia Law

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Prior to their marriage in 1993, Wife and Husband entered into a pre-marriage agreement (PMA) listing their assets and liabilities. In 2012, Husband sued Wife for divorce in Minnesota. The Minnesota court determined that Butte County, South Dakota, was the proper venue to determine the issues regarding the validity and enforceability of the parties’ PMA. Wife filed a declaratory judgment action against Donald in Butte County requesting a judgment declaring the PMA valid and enforceable and asking the court to construe the rights and interests of the parties under the PMA. The circuit court declared the PMA valid and enforceable and interpreted the PMA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err when it interpreted the PMA to permit tracing of earnings or property through the joint marital account and applied the marital loan concept; (2) the circuit court did not err when it adopted Wife’s expert’s report; and (3) Wife was not entitled to appellate attorney’s fees. View "Charlson v. Charlson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Family Law

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Thomas and Elizabeth Edgar entered into a lease agreement with Boyd and Merlyn Mills concerning land in Faulk County. Under the belief that he had an option to purchase the real estate at the conclusion of the lease term, Thomas Edgar later contacted an attorney to prepare a warranty deed so that the Millses could convey the real estate to the Edgars. After the Edgars’ attempts to execute the deed with the Millses failed, the Edgars sued the Millses for specific performance. The Millses counterclaimed, alleging that the Edgars breached the lease agreement. The trial court found the lease agreement ambiguous and considered parol evidence. The court ultimately concluded that the parties intended the lease agreement to be a lease with an option to purchase and ordered specific performance compelling the Millses to execute a warranty deed in favor of the Edgars. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded, holding (1) the trial court erred when it interpreted the parties’ agreement to be ambiguous and when it directed the Millses to execute a warranty deed in favor of the Edgars; and (2) under the lease, the Millses were entitled to reimbursement of their reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by reason of the Edgars’ breach of the lease agreement. View "Edgar v. Mills" on Justia Law

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David Knigge entered into an oral employment contract with Robert Knigge, who had cancer and a limited time to live, to manage a grocery store that was owned by Robert and his wife, Lynette. David alleged that the contract included a severance payment if Lynette ended David’s employment after Robert’s death. Robert died five months after entering into the contract. Lynette terminated David’s employment two months after Robert died and refused to pay the severance. David filed suit to enforce the agreement. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Lynnette, ruling that the oral contract was unenforceable under the statute of frauds because it could not be performed within one year. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in ruling that the contract was unenforceable under the statute of frauds and that there were disputes of material fact regarding the existence of the severance term. View "Knigge v. B & L Food Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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This lawsuit centered around the termination of the employment of Dr. Sonia Hernandez by Avera Queen of Peace Hospital (Avera). Hernandez brought suit against Avera and multiple persons associated with the hospital for, inter alia, defamation and breach of contract. The circuit court dismissed several of Hernandez’s causes of action and, during the ensuing jury trial, entered judgment as a matter of law dismissing the defamation action. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Avera on the breach of contract claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err (1) when it dismissed several of Hernandez’s claims against Avera and the additional parties, and (2) when it dismissed Hernandez’s defamation claim during trial. View "Hernandez v. Avera Queen of Peace Hosp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Injury Law