Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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Buyers and Sellers entered into a contract for deed of property. The contract for deed indicated that Buyers were purchasing the home “as is” and that neither party made any representations or warranties except those made in the contract for deed. Within a year after moving into the home, Buyers discovered major defects on the property. Buyers brought suit against Sellers alleging fraud and failure to disclose defects. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Sellers. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) the circuit court erred when it applied the parol evidence rule to exclude Buyers’ extrinsic evidence and when it granted summary judgment on Buyers’ fraud claims; and (2) the circuit court erred when it granted summary judgment on their claim that Sellers violated S.D. Codified Laws 43-4-38. View "Oxton v. Rudland" on Justia Law

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Two township residents appealed the circuit court’s denial of their request that the court issue a writ of mandamus compelling the township to repair and maintain two secondary roads. The court concluded that the township proved that it was unable to perform its mandatory duty to repair and maintain the roads. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the writ because the township proved that it was unable to perform its legal duty because it would be unable to procure the funds necessary to repair and maintain the roads, and because the township proved that it had not willfully placed itself in a position where it could not perform its legal duty. View "Asper v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Legendary Loan Link, Inc. filed suit against Todd Larson on a promissory note that was secured by certain property. Judge Robert Timm granted partial summary for Legendary Loan. Judge Timm subsequently retired, and the case was assigned to Judge Carmen Means. Nearly one year after Judge Means was assigned to the case, Larson filed a formal affidavit requesting a change of judge. Presiding Judge Gregory Stoltenburg reviewed Larson’s formal affidavit for change of judge and denied it by an e-mail to the clerk of courts but did not enter a formal order on the matter. Judge Means later granted summary judgment in favor of Legendary Loan on the remaining issues. Larson appealed, arguing that Judge Means lacked jurisdiction to preside over the case because Judge Stoltenburg failed to enter a formal order denying Larson’s affidavit for a change of judge and appointing Judge Means. The Supreme court affirmed, holding that Larson was not entitled to file the affidavit for a change of judge because it was untimely and because he waived that right when he submitted argument to Judge Means on numerous occasions before filing the affidavit. View "Legendary Loan Link, Inc. v. Larson" on Justia Law

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Thomas and Elizabeth Edgar entered into a lease agreement with Boyd and Merlyn Mills concerning land in Faulk County. Under the belief that he had an option to purchase the real estate at the conclusion of the lease term, Thomas Edgar later contacted an attorney to prepare a warranty deed so that the Millses could convey the real estate to the Edgars. After the Edgars’ attempts to execute the deed with the Millses failed, the Edgars sued the Millses for specific performance. The Millses counterclaimed, alleging that the Edgars breached the lease agreement. The trial court found the lease agreement ambiguous and considered parol evidence. The court ultimately concluded that the parties intended the lease agreement to be a lease with an option to purchase and ordered specific performance compelling the Millses to execute a warranty deed in favor of the Edgars. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded, holding (1) the trial court erred when it interpreted the parties’ agreement to be ambiguous and when it directed the Millses to execute a warranty deed in favor of the Edgars; and (2) under the lease, the Millses were entitled to reimbursement of their reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by reason of the Edgars’ breach of the lease agreement. View "Edgar v. Mills" on Justia Law

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Landowners in Day County filed a lawsuit against the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GF&P), Secretary Jeffrey Vonk, the State, and certain unnamed defendants who have used or intend to use the waters and ice overlying Landowners’ private property for recreational purposes. Landowners sought declaratory and injunctive relief concerning the public’s right to use the floodwaters on their property. Landowners asked the circuit court to certify the defendant class to include all people who have used or intend to use the bodies of water overlying Landowners’ private property. The court circuit certified the defendant class and appointed the Secretary of GF&P as the class representative. After a hearing, the circuit court entered declaratory and injunctive relief against the named and class defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err when it certified the defendant class in this case; (2) did not err in granting declaratory relief, but, on remand, the circuit court must modify the language of relief provided in this opinion; and (3) did not err in issuing an injunction, but, on remand, the circuit court must modify the language of the injunction as provided in this opinion. View "Duerre v. Hepler" on Justia Law

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Homeowner’s fixtures encroached on Landowner’s property. Homeowner sued for an implied easement to keep the encroachments on the adjoining property. Landowner counterclaimed for trespass and sought a mandatory injunction to remove the encroachments. The circuit court denied Homeowner’s claim for an implied easement and ruled that the encroachments constituted a trespass but nevertheless denied Landowner’s request for an injunction. Instead, the court ordered that the encroachments would not be subject to an order of removal but would have to be removed if they became subject to relocation in the future. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in denying an injunction to remove the septic system, allowing it to temporarily remain, and awarding nominal damages; but (2) the circuit court erred in failing to balance the equities and hardships as to the remaining encroachments. On remand, the court should balance the equities relating to those encroachments. View "Hoffman v. Bob Law, Inc." on Justia Law

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Prior to reconstructing the interchange at Interstate 90 and Cliff Avenues in Sioux Falls, the State instituted a quick-take condemnation action against two landowners (together, Defendants) and effected a partial taking of their real property south of the interchange on-ramp. Defendants did not contest the taking and requested that a jury determine damages. After a four-day trial, the jury awarded Defendants $551,125. The State appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) before a landowner may present evidence of and recover for loss resulting from a change in access, the court must first determine that such change amounts to a substantial impairment of access; (2) if the change in access amounts to a substantial impairment and is not caused by the State’s actual taking of the landowner’s property, the landowner must prove that the injury is peculiar to the landowner’s property and not of a kind suffered by the public as a whole; and (3) because the circuit court in this case did not make these determinations, the case must be remanded. View "State v. Miller" on Justia Law

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JB Enterprises (JBE) owned property located on a corner lot abutting Cliff Avenue and 63rd Street in Sioux Falls. Prior to initiating a public improvement reconstructing the interchange at Interstate 90 and Cliff Avenue, the State instituted a quick-take condemnation action against JBE, contesting JBE’s “control of access” to its property. The State ultimately changed the public improvement and left intact JBE’s curb cut along Cliff Avenue. After the State closed the intersection of 63rd Street and Cliff Avenue, JBE requested a jury trial on damages, alleging that the State owned JBE’s right to “control of access” to its property. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the State, concluding that the State’s public improvement did not result in a compensable taking because the State did not physically take any of JBE’s property and did not eliminate JBE’s direct access to Cliff Avenue. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the State acquired the right to deprive JBE of access to Cliff Avenue, JBE must be compensated under the assumption that the State will do so. Remanded for a trial on damages. View "State v. JB Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

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Carlyle Schleim owned, and Farmers State Bank of Canton held a mortgage on, property located near an intersection that was closed in connection with the State’s reconstruction of the interchange between Interstate 90 and Cliff Avenue. Schliem and the Bank brought an inverse-condemnation action against the State alleging that the closure of the intersection diminished the value of the subject property. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the State, concluding that Schliem did not identify a property interest that had been taken or damaged by the State. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Schliem did not suffer compensable loss by the intersection’s closure, and therefore, the circuit court properly granted summary judgment for the State. View "Schleim v. S.D. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Thomas Konrad and Myron Stoebner entered into a contract for the sale of real property. Under the contract, the Stoebners agreed to sell Konrad nine parcels of real estate. The contract contained an arbitration clause. When the Stoebners refused to close on the sale of Parcel 7, Konrad sent the Stoebners a demand for arbitration. The arbitrator ruled that the Stoebners breached the contract and ordered the Stoebners to transfer Parcel 7 to Konrad. The Stoebners moved to vacate the award, arguing that the arbitrator exceeded his powers by disregarding the contractual definition of “transfer.” The circuit court denied the Stoebners’ application and confirmed the arbitration award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err when it confirmed the arbitration award in favor of Konrad because the arbitrator did not exceed his powers when he decided the issue submitted. View "Konrad v. Stoebner" on Justia Law