Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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In the first appeal of this medical malpractice suit, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded a judgment for defendant Dr. Linda Peterson, holding that the trial court abused its discretion when it misconstrued the rules of evidence on the relevancy and admissibility of plaintiff Lita St. John's proffered evidence. On remand, defendant asked for reconsideration of the evidentiary rulings and reinstatement of the judgment. Concluding that the Supreme Court's opinion still left open the question whether the evidence was admissible, and ruling that it was not, the trial court declined to grant plaintiff a new trial and reinstated the judgment for defendant. Upon re-review, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded. "Many issues addressed by motions in limine, including evidentiary issues, are frequently reexamined during trial and the trial court may change rulings based on the actual evidence at trial. Thus, it was an error for the trial court in this case to reinstate a judgment based on reconsidering and ruling on a motion in limine outside of the context of a trial. We reverse the trial court's decision and remand for a new trial." View "St. John v. Peterson" on Justia Law

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Magellan Pipeline Company, LP appealed a sales tax assessment levied by the state Department of Revenue and Regulation on its additive injection and equipment calibration services. The Hearing Examiner, Department Secretary and trial court all found Magellan's services were non-exempt from tax. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that under the plain language of the applicable statute, Magellan's services were exempt from sales tax. View "Magellan Pipeline Co v. Dept. of Revenue & Regulation" on Justia Law

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Claimant worked for more than ten years as a diesel mechanic for Employer. Claimant had several incidents while working for Employer which he claimed caused neck, back, shoulder, and arm pain. Claimant later submitted a workers' compensation claim and three first reports of injury. Claimant then petitioned the Department of Labor, which denied Claimant workers' compensation benefits based on its finding that Claimant failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his employment was a major contributing cause of his current condition and need for treatment. The circuit court affirmed but slightly modified the Department's decision. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Claimant established by a preponderance of the evidence that his employment was a major contributing cause of his current condition and need for treatment. Remanded. View "Smith v. Stan Houston Equip. Co." on Justia Law

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The Finnemans owned 17,000 acres of farmland that they deeded to Rock Creek Farms (RCF). RCF funded a series of redemptions of the property, and the Arnoldys purchased existing judgments on the property. Rabo Agrifinance and Rabo AgServices (Rabo) subsequently initiated foreclosure proceedings against the Finnemans, RCF, and all parties who had an interest in the land. The trial court entered a judgment and decree of foreclosure in the Rabo foreclosure proceedings and adjudged RCF as having the final owner's right of redemption as to the entirety of the property. The Arnoldys sought to have the judgment and decree of foreclosure set aside by filing a motion for relief pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-60(b). On May 26, the trial court granted the motion and vacated the portion of the judgment recognizing RCF's final redemption rights. RCF and the Finnemans sought relief from the May 26 order by filing separate motions pursuant to Rule 60(b). The trial court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court judge correctly determined that a Rule 60(b) motion was not appropriate and denied relief in this case. View "Rabo Agrifinance, Inc. v. Rock Creek Farms" on Justia Law

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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

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Hutterville Colony, a nonprofit religious corporation, had two opposing factions. Both factions sought exclusive power over Hutterville. Their schism led to two lawsuits, including one faction's suit seeking judicial dissolution of Hutterville. Eventually, the Supreme Court ordered dismissal of the suit, concluding that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to order judicial dissolution of Hutterville. This appeal concerned the circuit court's actions following the Court's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err when it continued to exercise jurisdiction over Hutterville and its property following remittitur; (2) the circuit court had the authority and duty to wind up the receivership and discharge the receiver; (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in ordering payment of the receiver's fees and expenses from receivership funds and allowing the receiver to use receivership funds to pay the expenses of third parties; (4) the circuit court did err in releasing the receiver from liability, as the receiver's appointment and receivership were valid under state law; and (5) the circuit court did not err in ordering the receiver to return receivership funds to the corporation. View "Wipf v. Hutterville Hutterian Brethren" on Justia Law

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The day after Julie served her husband Steven with a summons and complaint for divorce, Steven shot and killed Julie near her car in Julie's employer's parking lot. The personal representative of Julie's estate sought worker's compensation benefits for her death, asserting that Julie's death arose out of her employment. Julie's employer (Employer) denied benefits, as did the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court also affirmed, holding that even though the assault occurred on Employer's premises, the assault could not be attributed to Julie's employment, and therefore, Julie's death did not "arise out of" her employment. View "Voeller v. HSBC Card Servs., Inc." on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion to suppress and in admitting a video of Defendant's first interrogation, as Defendant made a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of her Miranda rights in the first interrogation; (2) did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on the lesser offense of manslaughter in the second degree; and (3) did not err in denying a jury instruction on burglary and allowing Defendant's counsel to appropriately argue the elements of justifiable homicide. View "State v. Waloke" on Justia Law

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Defendant was indicted for murder in the second degree and aggravated assault after stabbing two men during an altercation. Defendant moved to suppress statements he made during a custodial interrogation, arguing that he had not validly waived his Miranda rights and that his statements were not voluntary. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in finding that Defendant's statements were obtained pursuant to a valid Miranda waiver and that the statements were voluntarily made; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's rejection of Defendant's claim of self-defense. View "State v. Strozier" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and for an open container violation. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court incorrectly denied his motion to suppress evidence obtained after the stop of his vehicle because the law enforcement officer had no reasonable suspicion of a violation of law to support the stop. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress because the officer had a reasonable suspicion that Defendant's crossing of the fog line violated a statute requiring Defendant's vehicle to be "driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane." View "State v. Hett" on Justia Law