Justia South Dakota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Legal Ethics
The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s decision awarding attorney’s fees assessed against opposing counsel for costs Defendant incurred in bringing a successful motion to disqualify opposing counsel for an alleged violation of the South Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct. The circuit court reasoned that sanctions were appropriate because the motion to disqualify was “other litigation” resulting from counsel’s alleged ethical violation. In reversing, the circuit court held (1) counsel’s alleged violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct did not result in “other litigation” comprehended by either Jacobsen v. Leisinger, 746 N.W.2d 739, or the precedent on which it relied; and (2) the procedural requirements for S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-11(c) (Rule 11) sanctions were not met. View "Berggren v. Schonebaum" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
Thomas Konrad accepted a loan from Bob Law upon the advice of attorney Douglas Kettering. Law and Kettering had been partners in at least one of Law's business ventures and had an attorney-client relationship. Thomas's parents (the Konrads) provided their land as collateral for Thomas's loan. Thomas later defaulted on the note. Seven months after Kettering passed away, Law brought suit to enforce the note and mortgage against Thomas and the Konrads. Law settled with Thomas and the Konrads. Law then sought to recover from the Kettering Estate the amounts outstanding on the note, claiming that Kettering's acts - including his conflict of interest with Law and his alleged fraudulent inducement of the Konrads into signing the note and mortgage - voided the note and mortgage, and therefore, the Estate was liable to Law for the interest due on the note. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Estate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the contract between Law and Thomas did not contravene public policy because it was drafted by an attorney who failed to disclose a conflicting attorney-client relationship; and (2) the theory that Kettering fraudulently induced the Konrads into signing the note and mortgage rested on mere speculation. View "Law Capital, Inc. v. Kettering" on Justia Law