Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court denying Lawrence County’s motion to join the United States as an indispensable party to this action filed by various Landowners requesting that the County maintain a road providing access to their homes. The County denied the Landowners’ request. Petitioner appealed the County’s action, and the County moved to join the United States as an indispensable party. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the United States Forest Service was not an indispensable party to the action because the County failed to follow the proper procedure to grant an easement in the road to the Forest Service. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court committed clear error in ruling on the easement without first determining whether the United States was a party that should have been joined if feasible. View "Oyen v. Lawrence County Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Landowners’ request that the State pay reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws 5-2-18 and the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act (URA), 42 U.S.C. 4601-4655, after Landowners prevailed against the State on their claim of inverse condemnation. On appeal, Landowners argued that they were entitled to recovery of attorney’s fees and litigation expenses under section 5-2-18 because they prevailed on their inverse condemnation claim, asserting that the legislature intended to adopt by reference the URA when it enacted section 5-2-18. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not err in denying Landowners’ motion for attorney’s fees and expenses because, while section 5-2-18 incorporates by reference the provisions of the URA, its application is permissive rather than mandatory. View "Long v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Landowners on their inverse condemnation claim against the State seeking damages and a permanent injunction due to flooding on Landowners’ properties. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err in refusing to dismiss Landowners’ inverse condemnation claims based upon the doctrine of sovereign immunity; (2) the circuit court did not err in its determination that the State’s actions caused water to invade and damage Landowners’ properties in violation of S.D. Const. art. VI, 13; (3) the State was not entitled to filed a cross-claim against the City of Sioux Falls for contribution under the Joint Tortfeasor Act; and (4) the State did not acquire a drainage easement over Landowners’ real estate. View "Long v. State" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred when it applied de novo review to a decision of the America Township Board of Supervisors and then reversed the Board’s decision downgrading a seven-mile stretch of road from full maintenance to minimum maintenance. A portion of the road at issue provided Appellees access to South Dakota Highway 50. Appellees appealed the Board’s decision. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision and ordered that minimum maintenance signs be taken down. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) Appellees’ lawsuit was not barred by lack of standing or by sovereign immunity; (2) the circuit court did not err in concluding that the Board acted arbitrarily because the Board failed to consider an important aspect of the issue under S.D. Codified Laws 31-13-1.1; but (3) the circuit court should have remanded the matter back to the Board for a rehearing rather than applying de novo review to the Board’s decision. View "Surat v. America Township" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the circuit court finding that Plaintiffs ido not have an easement, either by grant or prescription, across Mineral Survey 1758 (M.S. 1758) into the adjoining Mineral Survey 1794. On appeal, Plaintiffs asserted that a public right-of-way existed across M.S. 1758 by grant but did not appeal the denial of a prescriptive easement. In affirming, the Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs failed to establish a right in the disputed road that traverses M.S. 1758 by grant in deeds or by statute, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in determining that the disputed road is private. View "Chicoine v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court’s judgment denying Landowners’ claims seeking to quiet title to their property and seeking a declaration that a certificate of renewal and amendment filed by a homeowners association (HOA) was invalid because it was allegedly filed in violation of the requirements established by a “declaration of covenants, conditions, restrictions, and reservations for land[.]” The Supreme Court held (1) nothing within the declaration of covenants of the HOA or within its bylaws required that an election to amend the declaration of covenants’ term be conducted at an annual or special meeting of the members; but (2) the court erred when it determined that a required ninety percent of the members of the HOA voted to amend the term of the covenant. View "Harlan v. Frawley Ranches Planned Unit Development Homeowners Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Brule County Board of Commissioners finding that Surat Farms LLC impermissibly altered an intermittent watercourse. Upon Albert Delany’s filing of a drainage complaint with Brule County, the Board found that Surat “altered the natural flow of the water” running from Delany’s land to Surat’s land and required Surat to restore the natural flow of water or otherwise ensure the drainage of the Delany property. The circuit court affirmed the Board’s decision in all respects. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence supported the circuit court’s finding that Surat’s drain system improperly interfered with Delany’s drainage rights; and (2) the circuit court did not err in awarding injunctive relief. View "Surat Farms, LLC v. Brule County Board of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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