Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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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 the judgment of the circuit partitioning one of two parcels of land Tom Blue and Jim Blue inherited as tenants in common, awarding Tom owelty, and denying Tom’s claims for improvements and restitution, holding that the circuit court did not err in its judgment. Upon the death of their father, Tom and Jim inherited two interests in real estate as tenants in common. Approximately ten years later, Jim commenced this action to partition one of the parcels. Tom counterclaimed for the value of purported improvements and for restitution for the time he spent caring for both properties. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying Tom’s claims for unjust enrichment and quantum meruit; (2) did not abuse its discretion in controlling the presentation of evidence; and (3) did not clearly err or abuse its discretion in dividing certain land into equal quarter sections and ordering that Jim pay Tom $51,190 in owelty. View "Blue v. Blue" on Justia Law

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In this action to quiet title to real property owned by Defendants under a claim of adverse possession, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court finding that Plaintiff was entitled to the disputed property by adversely possessing it for forty years and dismissing Defendants’ counterclaim to quiet title to an adjacent property under a claim of adverse possession. Defendants opposed Plaintiff’s adverse possession claim on the basis that Plaintiff and his predecessor in interest occupied the disputed property with Defendants’ consent. After filing a counterclaim against Plaintiff, Defendants voluntarily dismissed the counterclaim before trial. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment in this case, holding (1) permissive use does not ripen into a claim of hostility by the mere transfer of the dominant estate; (2) the circuit court erred by quieting title to the disputed property in favor of Plaintiff because his permissive use never ripened into one of hostility necessary to claim title by adverse possession; and (3) the circuit court abused its discretion by dismissing the counterclaim with prejudice, especially in light of the fact that Plaintiff did not oppose Defendants’ voluntary dismissal. View "Gangle v. Spiry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from a circuit court order granting Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that no statutory authority existed to entertain the appeal as a matter of right. Plaintiffs sued Defendant seeking a declaratory judgment and rescission of a contract for the sale of land and an incorporated lease. The circuit court issued a temporary restraining order against Defendant and a show cause order setting a hearing for preliminary injunction. Thereafter, Defendant filed a demand for arbitration. The circuit court entered an order compelling arbitration on all claims alleged in Plaintiffs’ complaint. Plaintiffs appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order compelling Plaintiffs to engage in arbitration was not an order appealable as a matter of right under either S.D. Codified Laws 15-26A-3(2) or S.D. Codified Laws 21-25A-35. View "Stoebner v. Konrad" on Justia Law

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The circuit court did not err in denying Sellers’ motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial in this case brought by Buyers against Sellers of a house alleging violation of statutory disclosure requirements. Shortly after purchasing a house, Buyers experienced water-penetration issues. Buyers sued Sellers, claiming violation of the statutory disclosure requirements, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, and negligent misrepresentation. The jury found in favor of Buyers on its statutory disclosures claim and in favor of Sellers on the remaining claims. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying Sellers’ renewed motion for judgment of a matter of law and Sellers’ motion for new trial; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in declining to award attorney fees. View "Center of Life Church v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court’s judgment in favor of Plaintiffs awarding damages and an easement enabling Plaintiffs to install an independent tile line underneath Defendant’s property. Uphill landowners (Plaintiffs) and downhill landowner (Defendant) agreed to connect their drain-tile systems to allow for improved drainage across their parcels. Plaintiffs built and maintained an independent tile line that ran across Defendant’s property. Defendant experienced flooding. Believing that the connection of Plaintiffs’ drain tile to his system was the cause, Defendant obstructed the connection and then disconnected his drain-tile system from Plaintiffs’ system, causing water to pool on Plaintiffs’ property. Plaintiffs filed a complaint seeking damages and an order permitting them to reconnect the two systems. Defendant counterclaimed arguing that Plaintiffs unlawfully discharged water onto his land. The circuit court held in favor of Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in concluding that promissory estoppel entitled Plaintiffs to damages and an easement because the parties agreed that Plaintiffs would discharge water into Defendant’s drain-tile system; but (2) erred in concluding a trespass occurred because Defendant did not cause water to enter Plaintiffs’ land where the water was already on the land and Defendant simply caused it to remain there. View "Zwart v. Penning" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Petitioners' petition for a writ of mandamus, in which Petitioners sought to force Waubay Township to maintain roads accessing their property. In denying the writ, the circuit court determined that the Township had no duty to maintain the roads because they were not part of the township road system. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioners failed to meet their burden of proving that the Township was required to maintain the roads under S.D. Codified Laws 31-13-1; and (2) therefore, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying the petition for writ of mandamus. View "Coester v. Waubay Township" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Petitioners' petition for a writ of mandamus, in which Petitioners sought to force Waubay Township to maintain roads accessing their property. In denying the writ, the circuit court determined that the Township had no duty to maintain the roads because they were not part of the township road system. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioners failed to meet their burden of proving that the Township was required to maintain the roads under S.D. Codified Laws 31-13-1; and (2) therefore, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying the petition for writ of mandamus. View "Coester v. Waubay Township" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for a stay of a circuit court’s final judgment pending appeal and dismissed his appeal from a non-final judgment. In this property dispute, Plaintiff sued Defendant, and Defendant counterclaimed. The Supreme Court dismissed the complaint on summary judgment. Neither the counterclaims nor the pending motions for attorney’s fees were addressed, however. Defendant appealed. Thereafter, the circuit court filed a final judgment disposing of all pending claims. Plaintiff filed a motion to stay execution of that part of the circuit court’s final judgment ordering immediate release of the lis pendens Plaintiff had previously filed as to the property at issue in this case. The circuit court denied the stay. Plaintiff then moved the Supreme Court for special relief to grant the stay and filed a second notice of appeal as to the circuit court’s final judgment. The Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s first appeal of the summary judgment because it was not final but granted his motion for special relief and stayed execution of the lower court’s judgment relating to the lis pendens, holding that the circuit court should have granted Plaintiff’s motion for a stay under the circumstances of this case. View "Healy v. Osborne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for a stay of a circuit court’s final judgment pending appeal and dismissed his appeal from a non-final judgment. In this property dispute, Plaintiff sued Defendant, and Defendant counterclaimed. The Supreme Court dismissed the complaint on summary judgment. Neither the counterclaims nor the pending motions for attorney’s fees were addressed, however. Defendant appealed. Thereafter, the circuit court filed a final judgment disposing of all pending claims. Plaintiff filed a motion to stay execution of that part of the circuit court’s final judgment ordering immediate release of the lis pendens Plaintiff had previously filed as to the property at issue in this case. The circuit court denied the stay. Plaintiff then moved the Supreme Court for special relief to grant the stay and filed a second notice of appeal as to the circuit court’s final judgment. The Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s first appeal of the summary judgment because it was not final but granted his motion for special relief and stayed execution of the lower court’s judgment relating to the lis pendens, holding that the circuit court should have granted Plaintiff’s motion for a stay under the circumstances of this case. View "Healy v. Osborne" on Justia Law