Justia South Dakota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment declining to declare that the City of Rapid City unlawfully bargained away its police power when it entered into a settlement agreement with Epic Outdoor Advertising under which the City agreed to amend certain sign ordinances and grant Epic two sign permits, holding that the circuit court did not err. Lamar Advertising brought this appeal. By notice of review, Epic asserted that the circuit court erred in denying its request that the court declare invalid a similar settlement agreement executed between Lamar and the City. The Supreme Court affirmed in all respects, holding (1) because the City did not contract away its police powers by agreeing to amend the sign code, and because Lamar did not establish that the City acted unreasonably or arbitrarily when it amended the sign code, the circuit court did not err in denying Lamar's motion for summary judgment requesting a declaration that the settlement agreement and the ordinance agreements were invalid; (2) challenges to the granting of permits, such as those brought by Lamar, must be pursued through the administrative process; and (3) the circuit court did not err in failing to find the settlement agreement previously entered into between Lamar and the City invalid. View "Lamar Advertising Of South Dakota, LLC v. City of Rapid City" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court affirming the assessed value of Appellants' agricultural land by the Meade County Commission sitting as a board of equalization (the Board), holding that the circuit court did not err. Before the Board, Appellants argued that the director of equalization incorrectly applied statutory provisions to determine their land's production value. The Board further adjusted the assessment from an average of $519 per acre down to an average of $512 per acre. Appellants appealed the Board's decision to circuit court. After a trial de novo, the circuit court affirmed the Board's tax assessment of the property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err when it determined that (1) the Board complied with the statutory provisions for evaluating agricultural land in their assessment of Appellants' property; and (2) the Board's tax assessment of the property did not violate provisions of the South Dakota Constitution that require uniform taxation at no more than its actual value. View "Trask v. Meade County Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court denying Karen Dunham's petition for writ of certiorari challenging the decision of the Lake County Board of Adjustment (Board) approving Hodne Homes, LLC's requests for a variance and conditional use permit (CUP), holding that the Board exceeded its authority in granting the variance but did not exceed its legal authority when it approved the CUP. Hodne Homes purchased a Lake County lot to build a facility to store and display boats. Hodne Homes sought the variance and CUP because the proposed facility exceeded the size and setback restrictions for the lot under the Lake County Zoning Ordinance. Dunham, an adjoining landowner, objected, but the Board granted both requests. The court of appeals denied Dunham's petition for writ of certiorari challenging the Board's decision. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the Board exceeded its legal authority under the ordinance when it approved the variance; and (2) the Board did not exceed its authority under the ordinance when it approved the CUP, the Board's decision did not violate Dunham's due process rights, and the Board committed no procedural errors in its approval of the CUP. View "Dunham v. Lake County Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Department of Labor dismissing Plaintiff's petition seeking workers' compensation benefits for lack of prosecution, holding that Plaintiff engaged in activity within a year before the motion to dismiss was filed. Plaintiff filed a petition with the Department seeking disability benefits and medical expenses arising from her workplace injury. Eventually, Employer/Insurer filed a motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution under ARSD 47:03:01:09, asserting that there had been no activity for at least one year and that Plaintiff had failed to show good cause for the delay. The Department granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Department abused its discretion in dismissing the appeal because its decision was based upon its erroneous conclusion that Plaintiff's participation in a vocational rehabilitation program was not "activity" under ARSD 47:03:01:09. View "Laplante v. GGNSC Madison, S.D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Department of Labor to award benefits to James Bonebright's widow, Stephanie, after Bonebright died from injuries he sustained in a work-related accident, holding that the workers' compensation claim was not precluded by willful misconduct. Bonebright's employer, the City of Miller, and the City's workers' compensation provider denied workers' compensation liability on the ground that Bonebright had engaged in willful misconduct. Stephanie petitioned the Department for medical and funeral expenses along with indemnity benefits as a surviving spouse. The Department awarded Stephanie benefits, concluding that although Bonebright had engaged in willful misconduct, the City had not established that Bonebright's failure to follow safety precautions was a proximate cause of his injury and death. The circuit court reversed the Department's willful misconduct finding. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Stephanie's claim was not precluded by willful misconduct because the City did not demonstrate bona fide enforcement of its safety rules. View "Bonebright v. City Of Miller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing as untimely Appellant's appeal of an order of the Board of Pardons and Paroles revoking Appellant's parole, holding that the circuit court did not err. Thirty-four days after the Board entered an amended order revoking Appellant's parole the clerk of court received and filed Appellant's pro se notice of appeal. The Board filed a motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, claiming it was untimely. The circuit court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err when it dismissed as untimely Appellant's appeal of the Board's decision revoking Appellant's parole; and (2) did not abuse its discretion by denying Appellant's request for a standby attorney at the hearing on the motion to dismiss his appeal. View "Abdulrazzak v. South Dakota Board of Pardons & Paroles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Lake County Board of Commissioners, sitting as the Lake County Drainage Board (Board), approving the application for permits filed by Steven Carmody and Edward Becker to install drain tile on their respective properties in Lake County, holding that the circuit court did not err when it affirmed the Board's decision to issue the drainage permits. James Carmody objected to both permits and appealed the Board's approval of the permits to the circuit court. The circuit court applied the abuse of discretion standard of review and affirmed the Board's approval of the drainage permits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) applied the correct standard of review and burden of proof to Carmody's appeal of the drainage permits; and (2) did not abuse its discretion when it affirmed the Board's decision to issue the drainage permits. View "Carmody v. Lake County Board Of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Department of Labor determining that Appellant's knee surgery and related treatment were not compensable, holding that the Department did not err when it concluded that Appellant's work-related injury, in combination with his preexisting condition, did not remain a major contributing cause of his disability, impairment, or need for treatment. Appellant injured his left knee while working for Appellee. Appellee denied liability for Appellant's total knee replacement surgery and post-operative treatment. The Department found the work-related injury neither contributed independently nor was a major contributing cause of Appellant's need for surgery. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to prove causation under either S.D. Codified Laws 62-1-1(7)(b) or S.D. Codified Laws 62-1-1(7)(c). View "Armstrong v. Longview Farms, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the circuit court dismissing an application for a writ of prohibition, sua sponte, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the circuit court erred by dismissing the alternative application for writ of certiorari. Triple K Land, LLC successfully applied to the Hanson County Board of adjustment for a conditional use permit to construct a pig nursery facility. Loren Huber and Amy Nolan-Huber (the Hubers), adjacent property owners, applied for a writ of prohibition, alternatively designating the application as a verified petition setting forth the illegality of the Board's decision. During a hearing, the circuit court granted Triple K's oral motion to intervene. The court then dismissed the application for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) insofar as the circuit court dismissed the claim for writ of prohibition, it did not err; (2) the Hubers complied with the requirements of S.D. Codified Laws 11-2-61, and the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter by writ of certiorari; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in granting Triple K's motion to intervene. View "Huber v. Hanson County Planning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting the State's motion to dismiss Appellant's civil action challenging a Department of Corrections (DOC) administrative policy relating to the method and procedures for carrying out capital sentences, holding that provisions of S.D. Codified Laws chapter 23A-27A, rather than the DOC policy, vest members of the executive branch with the authority to carry out a capital sentence. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Appellant later brought his civil action claiming that a written policy issued by the DOC relating to the execution of a condemned inmate was invalid because it was not promulgated within the rule-making requirements of the state's Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The circuit court dismissed the complaint, determining that the Policy was not subject to the APA and that the authority of the DOC to carry out a death sentence was derived from S.D. Codified Laws 23A-27A-32, whose provisions were self-executing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the DOC policy was not subject to the APA's rule-making requirements. View "Rhines v. S.D. Department Of Corrections" on Justia Law