Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiff's deceit claim and affirmed the circuit court's rulings as to Plaintiff's breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and fraud claims and as to Defendants' counterclaim seeking damages under two three-year lease agreements allowing Plaintiff to rent Defendants' ranch, holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that Defendants fraudulently induced Plaintiff to enter into one of the leases. Following disputes between the parties, Defendants refused Plaintiff's lease payments for the second year. Plaintiff filed suit, and Defendants counterclaimed. The trial court found one lease valid and binding and the other lease valid but voidable. A jury awarded damages to both parties. The Supreme Court reversed in part and otherwise affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in its evidentiary rulings and in its jury instructions; (2) the circuit court did not err when it found the second lease voidable instead of void; and (3) the circuit court erred when it granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claim that Defendants fraudulently induced him to enter into the second lease. The Court remanded the case for a new trial on Plaintiff's deceit claim. View "Knecht v. Evridge" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Lake County Board of Commissioners, sitting as the Lake County Drainage Board (Board), approving the application for permits filed by Steven Carmody and Edward Becker to install drain tile on their respective properties in Lake County, holding that the circuit court did not err when it affirmed the Board's decision to issue the drainage permits. James Carmody objected to both permits and appealed the Board's approval of the permits to the circuit court. The circuit court applied the abuse of discretion standard of review and affirmed the Board's approval of the drainage permits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) applied the correct standard of review and burden of proof to Carmody's appeal of the drainage permits; and (2) did not abuse its discretion when it affirmed the Board's decision to issue the drainage permits. View "Carmody v. Lake County Board Of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the circuit court dismissing an application for a writ of prohibition, sua sponte, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the circuit court erred by dismissing the alternative application for writ of certiorari. Triple K Land, LLC successfully applied to the Hanson County Board of adjustment for a conditional use permit to construct a pig nursery facility. Loren Huber and Amy Nolan-Huber (the Hubers), adjacent property owners, applied for a writ of prohibition, alternatively designating the application as a verified petition setting forth the illegality of the Board's decision. During a hearing, the circuit court granted Triple K's oral motion to intervene. The court then dismissed the application for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) insofar as the circuit court dismissed the claim for writ of prohibition, it did not err; (2) the Hubers complied with the requirements of S.D. Codified Laws 11-2-61, and the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter by writ of certiorari; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in granting Triple K's motion to intervene. View "Huber v. Hanson County Planning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the Estate of Kenneth Stoebner in this breach of fiduciary duty claim against Curtis Huether, who served as Stoebner's attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney, holding that summary judgment was properly granted. Under his role of Stoebner's attorney-infant Huether executed a sale of Stoebner's real property to himself four days before Stoebner died. Stoebner's Estate commenced this action for breach of fiduciary duty, alleging that Huether engaged in an act of self-dealing when he executed the purchase agreement and warranty deed in his own favor as the attorney-in-fact for Stoebner. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the Estate and ordered that the sale be declared null and void. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no genuine disputes of material fact existed regarding Huether's fiduciary duty to Stoebner to not engage in acts of self-dealing under the provisions of the power of attorney. View "Estate of Stoebner v. Huether" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the circuit court's judgment granting Defendants summary judgment in part and, after a trial, entering a judgment consistent with the jury verdict, holding that a new trial on Plaintiffs' conversion and unjust enrichment claims was necessary. Plaintiffs loaned Defendants nearly $1.2 million, securing the loans with fifty-five promissory notes. Plaintiffs later sued Defendants for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and conversion. Defendants counterclaimed for conversion and unjust enrichment. The circuit court granted Defendants summary judgment in part, dismissing forty-eight of the promissory notes as time barred and concluding that the related mortgage was unenforceable. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict for Plaintiffs on their breach of contract claim, rejected their claim for conversion, and awarded Defendants $135,000 on their conversion counterclaim. The jury then rendered an advisory verdict for Defendants as to the parties' competing claims for unjust enrichment. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) abused its discretion by giving a missing witness instruction at trial, (2) erred by allowing the jury to determine the date to begin calculating interest on the enforceable promissory notes, and (3) erred in allowing the jury to consider evidence of the time-barred notes when considering Plaintiffs' claims of unjust enrichment. View "Mealy v. Prins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's suit claiming that he was financially damaged by Defendants' fraud and conspiracy and deprived of control over the family ranch, holding that the circuit court properly concluded that Plaintiff's suit was time barred. This case arose out of a family dispute over ownership and control of a family ranch. Plaintiff sued his mother, brothers, former attorney, and two business entities charging Defendants with, among other things, conversion, fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud and requesting punitive and compensatory damages. The circuit court granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment on all claims, concluding that Plaintiff's claims were time barred. The circuit court then granted Defendants' motions for attorney fees, concluding that Plaintiff's lawsuit was frivolous and malicious. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) properly concluded that Plaintiff's suit was time barred; and (2) did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorney fees to Defendants. View "Healy v. Osborne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's order dismissing this action brought by Bingham Farms Trust objecting to a special assessment lien levied upon its property by the City of Belle Fourche and affirmed the court's denial of the City's request for attorney fees, holding that the court had jurisdiction to determine the enforceability of the lien against Bingham. The circuit court declined to consider the merits of the parties' arguments regarding enforceability of the lien and instead granted the City's motion to dismiss on the grounds that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court had the jurisdiction to hear and determine Bingham's argument that the lien was not enforceable against it, and therefore, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the City's request for attorney fees. View "Bingham Farms Trust v. City Of Belle Fourche" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks (Department) on Landowner's action seeking a declaratory judgment and permanent injunction, holding that Landowner did not demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact regarding regarding the proper position of the boundaries between the parties' properties. The Department entered Landowner's farmland to build a new fence after a survey indicated that the physical boundaries between their properties did not coincide with surveyed boundaries. Landowner brought this action requesting that the court declare the boundary to be at a historical fence line and demanding that the Department remove steel fence posts it installed to mark its surveyed boundary. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Department. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact regarding the proper position of the boundaries. View "Lammers v. State, ex rel. Department of Game, Fish & Parks" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court affirming Meade County's denial of Hunt Companies, Inc.'s request for an abatement and refund of taxes overpaid, holding that, although the County overvalued Hunt's leasehold interest in a housing development, the circuit court did not err by denying Hunt's application for abatement and refund under S.D. Codified Laws 10-18-1. Hunt built the housing development at issue on land leased from the United States government. Hunt paid taxes assessed by the County on the property for 2011 through 2013. Hunt successfully challenged the County's valuations in circuit court, but the County denied Hunt's request for an abatement and refund. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the County was not required to grant Hunt's application for abatement and refund of taxes overpaid for the tax years at issue where Hunt chose not to use the pay-and-protest provisions of S.D. Codified Laws 10-27-2. View "In re Tax Refund Of Hunt Companies, Inc." on Justia Law

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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