Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part the decision of the circuit court granting partial summary judgment to Plaintiff on his complaint seeking an injunction and restraining order against Plowboy, LLC requiring Plowboy to remove two gates placed across a section-line highway, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting partial summary judgment but erred in directing removal of the gates within twenty days.In his complaint, Plaintiff argued that the gates were unlawful obstructions across a section-line highway. The circuit court concluded that Defendant failed to establish that the road was unimproved, and therefore, the gates must be removed. The court then ordered Defendant to remove the gates within twenty days. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in granting partial summary judgment; but (2) the circuit court did not certify its ruling as a final judgment, and therefore, the circuit court was unable to order the removal of the gates within twenty days. View "Patterson v. Plowboy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court applying the doctrine of equitable tolling, thus allowing Noreen French to bring an action against the Estate of Norman D. French to enforce a contract for deed relating to the sale of two quarter sections of farmland, holding that the circuit court erred in applying the doctrine of equitable tolling.Norman French, who farmed two quarters of land in Beadle County, entered into a contract for deed with Alan and Noreen French, his son and daughter-in-law, to sell them the land for $10,000. Noreen continued to farm the two quarters after both Norman and Alan passed away. When Noreen learned that Norman had never conveyed the two quarters, the Estate commenced an action to discharge the contract for deed. The circuit court denied the Estate's petition. Noreen then filed this action alleging that she satisfied her obligations under the contract for deed and requesting that the court order the Estate to deliver a deed conveying legal title to the two quarters of farmland. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court's decision to apply the doctrine of equitable tolling was not sustainable. View "In re Estate of French" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the circuit court entering judgment in favor of Thomas Wright on his claims for negligence, breach of contract, and deceit, holding that the circuit court erred in its damages award.Curtis Temple expressed interest in purchasing Wright's airplane and took the plane to his ranch, where it was damaged in a crash. When Wright's attempts to obtain compensation from Temple were unsuccessful, he brought suit. Temple also filed a third-party complaint against Ken Merrill, Temple's flight instructor, for negligence and contribution in the event Temple were to be found liable for damages. The jury found Temple liable to Wright on the claims of negligence, breach of contract, and deceit, and awarded damages. The jury also found Temple liable to Merrill but did not award damages to Merrill. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case for a new trial on the limited issue of damages, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the finding that Temple breached a contract between Temple and Wright; (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the finding that Temple was negligent; and (3) the circuit court erred in instructing the jury on damages and in determining the total award. View "Wright v. Temple" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Deuel County Board of Adjustment granting special exception permits (SEP) to Deuel Harvest Wind Energy, LLC and Deuel Harvest Wind Energy South, LLC (Deuel Harvest) to develop two wind energy systems in the County, holding that the circuit court erred by invalidating the votes of two Board members.Following a public hearing, the Board unanimously approved the SEPs. Appellees, several residents of Deuel County and neighboring counties, petitioned for a writ of certiorari, asserting that several Board members had interests or biases disqualifying them from considering the permits. The circuit court invalidated the votes of two Board members due to disqualifying interests and overturned the Board's approval of the SEPs. The Supreme Court reversed in part and reinstated the Board's unanimous vote in approving the SEPs, holding that the circuit court erred in disqualifying the two members from voting on the SEPs. View "Holborn v. Deuel County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court denying summary judgment on Plaintiffs' inverse condemnation claim and directed the entry of summary judgment dismissing this the Hamlin County Sheriff and Hamlin County, and, as to Plaintiffs' 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims, reversed the circuit court's denial of summary judgment on the Sheriff's qualified immunity on the excessive force claim, holding that the circuit court erred in part.Plaintiffs filed a complaint against the County, Sheriff, and other deputies after their mobile home was damaged during the arrest of their son. Plaintiffs sought compensation from the defendants for inverse condemnation and filed a separate claim for deprivation of constitutional rights under section 1983. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the County but denied the other summary judgment motions. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) damage caused by law enforcement during the arrest of an alleged fleeing felon is not a compensable taking under S.D. Const. art. VI, 13; and (2) the Sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiffs' section 1983 claim. View "Hamen v. Hamlin County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Oglala Lakota County Commission denying Wings as Eagles Ministries, Inc.'s petition seeking an abatement of its property taxes for 2014 and 2015, holding that the circuit court did not err.Wings applied for property tax exempt status for the 2014 and 2015 tax years. The applications were denied and became final determinations of the property's exempt status for those years. Wings then filed its abatement petition, which the Commission denied. The circuit court affirmed, concluding that Wings was unable to meet the threshold eligibility element for an abatement because the final determinations denying exempt status conclusively established that Wings was not exempt for the 2014 and 2015 tax years. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err when it concluded that Wings did not qualify for an abatement under S.D. Codified Laws 10-18-1(3); and (2) Wings' estoppel argument was unreviewable on appeal. View "Wings As Eagles Ministries, Inc. v. Oglala Lakota County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court reversing and modifying the decision of the hearing examiner modifying the Roberts County Director of Equalization's tax assessments on four of James Pirmantgen's properties but affirming the County's remaining twelve assessments, holding that the circuit court erred.On appeal, the County argued that the circuit court erred in concluding that it failed properly to value Pirmantgen's properties for tax assessment purposes. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court properly determined that the hearing examiner's valuations as to three parcels were clearly erroneous; (2) the circuit court erred in reversing the hearing examiner's decision as to ten properties and in directing the County to reduce the assessments on these properties; and (3) because the circuit court did not have the authority to order a refund of taxes, it erred in directing the County to reimburse Pirmantgen any taxes paid in excess of what should have been paid. View "Pirmantgen v. Roberts County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dissolving Buffalo Chip's municipal incorporation, holding that the State had the authority to petition the court for such relief and that the circuit court did not err in holding that Buffalo Chip failed to satisfy the residency requirements in S.D. Codified Laws 9-3-1.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court properly allowed the State to institute this action against Buffalo Chip under S.D. Codified Laws 21-28-2(3) and S.D. Codified Laws 9-3-20; and (2) the circuit court did not err in its interpretation of S.D. Codified Laws 9-3-1. View "State v. Buffalo Chip" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court dismissing Petitioners' appeal from the decision of the Turner County Board of Adjustment approving an application for the construction and operation of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) on the grounds that Petitioners lacked standing, holding that the circuit court erred in dismissing the appeal for an inadequate showing of standing.After the Board voted unanimously to approve the CAFO application Petitioners, who owned land near the proposed CAFO, petitioned the circuit court for a writ of certiorari. The circuit court concluded that Petitioners lacked standing because they failed to present sufficient facts demonstrating a unique and personal injury compared to Turner County taxpayers in general. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Petitioners set forth sufficient specific facts showing a personal and pecuniary loss not suffered by taxpayers in general. View "Powers v. Turner County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction alleging the existence of an easement allowing access to a gravel pit on Defendants' property, holding that the circuit court erred when it refused to recognize an easement implied by prior use.When Defendants attempted to block Plaintiffs' use of an access road to the gravel pit on Defendants' property Plaintiffs commenced the current action. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants on Plaintiffs' easement implied by prior use claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the circuit court (1) erred in applying the substantive law and the standards required by S.D. Codified Law 15.6-56; and (2) erred when it granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment. View "Heumiller v. Hansen" on Justia Law