Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

by
This case concerned the Douglas County Planning and Zoning Administrator’s grant of a building permit for a hog confinement unit. Landowners applied for a writ of mandamus compelling the Administrator and the Douglas County Planning and Zoning Commission to comply with the county’s zoning ordinance revoking the permit. After a trial, the circuit court denied Landowners’ request, concluding (1) the hog barn did not fall under any of the permitted uses of land for which a building permit could be granted; but (2) a writ of mandamus could not be used to undo an already completed act, and principles of equity would not entitle Landowners to relief. The Supreme Court ultimately affirmed the circuit court’s decision denying Landowners a writ of mandamus, holding (1) the circuit court erred in determining that the facility was not a permitted use under the ordinances; but (2) because construction of the facility had already been completed at the time of trial, issuing a writ a mandamus to revoke the permit now would be ineffective. View "Hoffman v. Van Wyk" on Justia Law

by
The case involved drainage issues between adjoining landowners. Robert and Nancy Rumpza and Zubke Brothers LLC (Brothers) brought this action against David and Marilyn Zubke seeking an injunction and damages. They alleged that the Zubkes changed the natural flow characteristics of water draining from the Zubkes’ property to the Rumpzas’ and Brothers’ properties. The circuit court granted an injunction against the Zubkes and awarded damages to the Rumpzas and Brothers. The Supreme Court affirmed the injunction and Brothers’ damages award but reversed the Rumpzas’ damages award, holding (1) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in granting the injunction; (2) the circuit court’s factual findings regarding Brothers’ measure of damages were not clearly erroneous; but (3) there was no support in the record for the court’s findings regarding the Rumpzas’ measure of damages. View "Rumpza v. Zubke" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court’s affirmance of the Board of Minerals and Environment’s determination that it had subject matter jurisdiction over a petition regarding mine permit Nos. 445 and 460. Robert Fowler and Harlan Schmidt, intervenors in LAC Mineral USA, LLC’s petition, brought this appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) mining application requirements and mining permit amendment application requirements are not requirements that need to be met for the Board to obtain subject matter jurisdiction over a mining permit or permit amendment application, and therefore, the circuit court correctly found that the Board had jurisdiction over the matter; (2) the intervenors waived the issue whether S.D. Codified Laws 45-6B-44 and S.D. Codified Laws 45-6B-45 denied Fowler due process; but (3) the circuit court and Board erred in determining that Fowler was not a landowner, as that issue was not properly before the circuit court or Board. View "In re LAC Minerals (USA), LLC’s Petitioner for Release of Reclamation Liability" on Justia Law

by
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

by
Two township residents appealed the circuit court’s denial of their request that the court issue a writ of mandamus compelling the township to repair and maintain two secondary roads. The court concluded that the township proved that it was unable to perform its mandatory duty to repair and maintain the roads. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the writ because the township proved that it was unable to perform its legal duty because it would be unable to procure the funds necessary to repair and maintain the roads, and because the township proved that it had not willfully placed itself in a position where it could not perform its legal duty. View "Asper v. Nelson" on Justia Law

by
Legendary Loan Link, Inc. filed suit against Todd Larson on a promissory note that was secured by certain property. Judge Robert Timm granted partial summary for Legendary Loan. Judge Timm subsequently retired, and the case was assigned to Judge Carmen Means. Nearly one year after Judge Means was assigned to the case, Larson filed a formal affidavit requesting a change of judge. Presiding Judge Gregory Stoltenburg reviewed Larson’s formal affidavit for change of judge and denied it by an e-mail to the clerk of courts but did not enter a formal order on the matter. Judge Means later granted summary judgment in favor of Legendary Loan on the remaining issues. Larson appealed, arguing that Judge Means lacked jurisdiction to preside over the case because Judge Stoltenburg failed to enter a formal order denying Larson’s affidavit for a change of judge and appointing Judge Means. The Supreme court affirmed, holding that Larson was not entitled to file the affidavit for a change of judge because it was untimely and because he waived that right when he submitted argument to Judge Means on numerous occasions before filing the affidavit. View "Legendary Loan Link, Inc. v. Larson" on Justia Law

by
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

by
Landowners in Day County filed a lawsuit against the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GF&P), Secretary Jeffrey Vonk, the State, and certain unnamed defendants who have used or intend to use the waters and ice overlying Landowners’ private property for recreational purposes. Landowners sought declaratory and injunctive relief concerning the public’s right to use the floodwaters on their property. Landowners asked the circuit court to certify the defendant class to include all people who have used or intend to use the bodies of water overlying Landowners’ private property. The court circuit certified the defendant class and appointed the Secretary of GF&P as the class representative. After a hearing, the circuit court entered declaratory and injunctive relief against the named and class defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err when it certified the defendant class in this case; (2) did not err in granting declaratory relief, but, on remand, the circuit court must modify the language of relief provided in this opinion; and (3) did not err in issuing an injunction, but, on remand, the circuit court must modify the language of the injunction as provided in this opinion. View "Duerre v. Hepler" on Justia Law

by
Homeowner’s fixtures encroached on Landowner’s property. Homeowner sued for an implied easement to keep the encroachments on the adjoining property. Landowner counterclaimed for trespass and sought a mandatory injunction to remove the encroachments. The circuit court denied Homeowner’s claim for an implied easement and ruled that the encroachments constituted a trespass but nevertheless denied Landowner’s request for an injunction. Instead, the court ordered that the encroachments would not be subject to an order of removal but would have to be removed if they became subject to relocation in the future. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in denying an injunction to remove the septic system, allowing it to temporarily remain, and awarding nominal damages; but (2) the circuit court erred in failing to balance the equities and hardships as to the remaining encroachments. On remand, the court should balance the equities relating to those encroachments. View "Hoffman v. Bob Law, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Prior to reconstructing the interchange at Interstate 90 and Cliff Avenues in Sioux Falls, the State instituted a quick-take condemnation action against two landowners (together, Defendants) and effected a partial taking of their real property south of the interchange on-ramp. Defendants did not contest the taking and requested that a jury determine damages. After a four-day trial, the jury awarded Defendants $551,125. The State appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) before a landowner may present evidence of and recover for loss resulting from a change in access, the court must first determine that such change amounts to a substantial impairment of access; (2) if the change in access amounts to a substantial impairment and is not caused by the State’s actual taking of the landowner’s property, the landowner must prove that the injury is peculiar to the landowner’s property and not of a kind suffered by the public as a whole; and (3) because the circuit court in this case did not make these determinations, the case must be remanded. View "State v. Miller" on Justia Law