Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant insurer in this breach of contract action, holding that Defendant did not have a duty to defend Plaintiff in a case brought against him by his neighbors. Plaintiff was insured under a farm liability policy issued by Defendant. Plaintiff sold a portion of his property, and the purchaser operated a hog confinement facility on that property. Plaintiff's neighbors sued Plaintiff and the owner of the hog facility, alleging nuisance, trespass, and negligence. Defendant refused to defend Plaintiff against the lawsuit. After successfully defending the suit Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant, alleging that Defendant had a duty to defend. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant did not have a duty to defend where Defendant established that none of the claims against Plaintiff, if true, arguably fell within Defendant's policy coverage. View "Geidel v. De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding in favor of Plaintiff in this declaratory judgment action seeking underinsured motorist benefits under two insurance policies with Defendant, holding that the policy language was ambiguous and that underinsured motorist coverage applied. Plaintiff, special administrator of the Estate of Nehemiah Larimer, brought this action following Nehemiah's death in an accident. Defendant denied coverage pursuant to an "owned but not insured" exclusion in the underinsured motorist benefits endorsement. The circuit court, finding the language of the policy ambiguous, granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the language of the underinsured motorist endorsement was ambiguous, and therefore, the interpretation most favorable to the insured must be adopted. View "Larimer v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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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 circuit court’s orders granting Defendants’ motion to vacate default judgments and in granting summary judgment for Defendants in this personal injury action, holding that summary judgment was proper because Plaintiff did not resist summary judgment with specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial on the question of causation for his claimed injuries. Plaintiff brought this action following a car accident and obtained default judgments against Defendants. Defendants filed a motion to set aside the default judgments, which the circuit court granted. Thereafter, Defendants moved for summary judgment not he grounds that Plaintiff could not prove causation absent an expert opinion showing his injuries were caused by the collision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in concluding that expert testimony was necessary to prove the accident proximately caused Plaintiff’s injuries; and (2) under the circumstances, the court did not err in granting Defendants’ motion to set aside the default judgment or in denying Defendant’s motion to reinstate the default judgment. View "Cooper v. Brownell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation awarding partial summary judgment in favor of Claimant for existing medical expenses she incurred after she suffered a workplace injury to her right foot that required surgery. This appeal concerned Claimant’s second motion for partial summary judgment to recover existing medical expenses after the Department first award partial summary judgment for Claimant’s incurred medical expenses. Employer and its insurer paid the outstanding medical expenses and then argued that a decision on the second motion was unnecessary because the issue was moot. The Department granted partial summary judgment in favor of Claimant. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment affirming the Department’s decision and remanded to the circuit court with instructions that the court order the Department to vacate its order and dismiss Claimant’s claim for medical expenses, holding that the claim for medical expenses set forth in Claimant’s motion for partial summary judgment became moot prior to the Department’s final order granting summary judgment and was moot when the circuit court reviewed it on appeal. View "Skjonsberg v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the circuit court’s grant of Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law in this action for alienation of affections, holding that the circuit court erred by determining as a matter of law that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence of the amount of his damages. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant for causing the end of Defendant’s marriage. The court granted Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, concluding that Plaintiff failed to present evidence of his damages. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his action, and Defendant filed a notice of review, challenging the circuit court’s denial of his other grounds for dismissal as a matter of law. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred by determining as a matter of law that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence of the amount of his damages; (2) the circuit court did not err in not granting Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on liability and causation; and (3) the cause of action for alienation of affections does not violate public policy. View "Cedar v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Sioux Falls on Plaintiff’s complaint for negligence, holding that there was not a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the City’s conduct amounted to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Plaintiff was seriously injured while riding a bicycle through a public park in the City. Plaintiff sued the City for negligence. The circuit court concluded that the City was immune from liability for such negligence claims and granted summary judgment based on S.D. Codified Laws 20-9-20 and -21, which immunize a municipality for liability for negligence in connection with land open to the public for recreational use. On appeal, Defendant argued that there remained a question of fact as to whether the City was liable for his injury due to the City’s gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Plaintiff could not survive summary judgment when he simply alleged negligence as a cause of action and that Plaintiff failed to provide sufficient probative evidence that would permit a fining of willful or wanton misconduct on more than mere speculation or conjecture. View "Fischer v. City of Sioux Falls" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Larry Weisser, holding that Kayla Fluth’s satisfaction of judgment against Schoenfelder Construction, Inc. did not automatically discharge Weisser. Fluth sued Weissar and Schoenfelder to recover damages for flooding in her basement caused by a waterline leak on Weissar’s property. Prior to trial, Fluth accepted Schoenfelder’s offer of judgment for $7,500 and filed a satisfaction of judgment. Thereafter, Weisser filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that a satisfaction of judgment discharges all other joint tortfeasors from liability. The circuit court granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Fluth did not discharge Weisser from liability if the satisfaction of judgment did not reflect a full satisfaction of Fluth’s damages, and on remand the court must determine whether Schoenfelder’s satisfaction of judgment was a full or partial satisfaction. View "Fluth v. Schoenfelder" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and in part reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, a physical therapy company and a hospital, on Plaintiffs’ negligence claims, holding that the physical therapist failed to demonstrate an absence of any genuine issue of material fact. The plaintiff patient in this case was diagnosed with a fractured femur after a physical therapy session following her hip surgery. Plaintiffs, the patient and her husband, alleged that the physical therapist was negligent during the physical therapy session and that the hospital was negligent in failing timely to diagnose the fractured femur. The circuit court granted Defendants’ motions for summary judgment. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court correctly granted the hospital summary judgment because Plaintiffs were required to, but did not, support their claim with proper expert testimony; and (2) there was sufficient evidence in the record to create a material issue of fact concerning whether the physical therapist deviated from the required standard of care. View "Hanson v. Big Stone Therapies, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Plaintiff’s petition for a protection order against Defendant for stalking and remanded the case to permit the court to identify which of Defendant’s acts or conduct constituted stalking. After a hearing, the circuit court granted Plaintiff’s petition for a protection order on the grounds that some of Defendant’s actions and social media posts concerning Plaintiff amounted to stalking. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the circuit court’s order was not supported by proper findings. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court’s findings did not clearly identify how the evidence met the statutory elements of stalking, and therefore, the case must be remanded for proper findings. View "Thompson v. Bear Runner" on Justia Law