Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
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In this divorce action, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part orders entered by two different circuit court judges related to James Farmer's distributional interest in Lakota Lake Camp, LLC and orders related to the release of funds to James's wife, Lori Lieberman, that were previously held by the clerk of court following the execution sale of property owned by Lakota Lake, holding that the court erred in part.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the collection court had subject matter jurisdiction to hear and determine Lori's application for a charging order; (2) the divorce court erred in ordering the release of excess sale proceeds to Lori; and (3) the collection court's order denying Lakota Lake's motion to release to the company the excess sale proceeds from the sale of Granite Perch, the last remaining property owned by Lakota Lake, to Lori must be vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings on the issue. View "Farmer v. Farmer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court determining that Healy Ranch, Inc. (HRI) possessed marketable record title to certain real property in Brule County, voiding Bret Healy's notice of claim, and denying HRI's request for attorney fees, holding that there was no error.HRI brought this quiet title action under the South Dakota Marketable Title Act (SDMTA) seeking to defeat Healy's notice of claim to the disputed real property and establish for itself marketable record title to the property. HRI also sought costs and attorneys fees. Healy counterclaimed, seeking to quiet title to the property in the name of Healy Ranch Partnership (HRP). The circuit court granted summary judgment for HRI. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Healy's notice of claim was timely, but the cause of action was precluded, and the notice should be voided on this basis; and (2) the circuit court's denial of HRI's request for attorney fees was not erroneous. View "Healy Ranch, Inc. v. Healy" on Justia Law

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In this action to quiet title to a parcel of land in Brule County the Supreme Court affirmed the summary judgment decision of the circuit court determining that the current possessors of the subject land (Possessors) acquired title by adverse possession and quieting title in their favor, holding that the circuit court properly granted summary judgment on Possessors' adverse possession counterclaim.Healy Ranch Partnership (HRP) commenced this action to quiet title, naming multiple defendants, including Possessors, the previous possessors, and another member of HRP. Possessors filed a counterclaim alleging that they had acquired title through adverse possession. The circuit court determined that Possessors acquired title by adverse possession, deciding motions to dismiss and for summary judgment adversely to HRP. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the circuit court's decision granting the motion to dismiss, holding that the court erred when it applied this Court's decision in Healy v. Osborne, 934 N.W.2d 557 (S.D. 2019), to assess the sufficiency of HRP's complaint; and (2) affirmed the court's decision granting Possessors summary judgment on their adverse possession counterclaim, holding that Possessors established title to the property by adverse possession. View "Healy Ranch Partnership v. Mines" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approving the application of Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC for a permit to construct a wind energy farm in northeast South Dakota, holding that the PUC acted within its discretion in this case.After a contested hearing, the PUC issued a written decision approving the permit. Two individuals who lived in rural areas near the project and had intervened to oppose Crowned Ridge's application sought review. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) neither of the Intervenors' evidentiary claims were sustainable; and (2) even if the Intervenors' claims were preserved for appeal, the PUC acted within its discretion when it denied the Intervenors' challenges to certain testimony. View "Christenson v. Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approving the application of Crowned Ridge Wind II, LLC to construct a large wind energy farm in northeast South Dakota, holding that the PUC followed the applicable statutory directives in granting the construction permit and properly determined that Crowned Ridge satisfied its burden of proof under S.D. Codified Laws 49-41B-22.After a contested hearing, the PUC issued a written decision approving the permit. Two individuals who lived in rural areas near the project and had intervened to oppose Crowned Ridge's application sought review. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the PUC did not err when it determined that Crowned Ridge met its burden of proof to comply with all applicable laws and rules; and (2) the PUC's findings were not clearly erroneous as they related to crowned Ridge's burden under S.D. Codified Laws 49-41B-22(3). View "Christenson v. Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this appeal concerning the interpretation of a right of first refusal entered into by Dennis Powers and his father, Jerome Powers, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment and dismissing all claims brought against Dennis and Prevailing Wind Park, LLC, holding that there was no error.After Dennis entered into a wind energy lease and easement agreement with Prevailing Wind, Jerome brought this lawsuit alleging breach of contract and seeking declaratory relief and specific performance. Dennis joined Prevailing Wind's motion for summary judgment asserting that the right of first refusal at issue was not triggered and, alternatively, that it was void as an unreasonable restraint on alienation. The circuit court granted the summary judgment motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) properly entered summary judgment in favor of Dennis even when he did not join Prevailing Wind's statement of undisputed material facts or file his own; and (2) correctly granted Prevailing Wind's motion for summary judgment on all claims. View "Powers v. Powers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court upholding the decision of the White Township Board of Supervisors denying approval of the drainage project of Steven McLean and Matthew McLean, holding that the circuit court properly granted the Township summary judgment.After the Marshal County Drainage Board granted the McLeans a drainage permit they sought approval from the Township because their project could impact roads or rights-of-way in the Township. The Township denied the McLeans' drainage project. The circuit court upheld the Township's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in determining that the McLaens' appeal was untimely; (2) the circuit court properly determined that the Township can regulate the aspects of the McLaens' project that would impact Township roads and rights-of-way; (3) the McLeans' estoppel claim was without merit; and (4) the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment upholding the Township's decision. View "McLaen v. White Township" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Davison County Drainage Commission approving permits to install drain tile on Appellant's farmland, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to hear Kenneth Hostler's challenge to the commission's permitting decision.Hostler, Appellant's downstream neighbor, appeared on the commission's public hearing on Appellant's applications and objected to the permits. After the commission approved the permits Hostler appealed. The circuit court reversed, ruling that the commission abused its discretion in granting the permits. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court's order, holding that the circuit court did not have authority under the Declaratory Judgment Act to consider Hostler's complaint challenging the commission's decision to grant Appellant's permitting request. View "Hostler v. Davison County Drainage Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court upheld the action of the Deuel County Board of Adjustment (Board) unanimously approving the application filed by Crowned Ridge Wind II, LLC for a special exception permit (SEP) to construct and operate a wind energy system (WES) in Deuel County, holding that there was no error.In 2004, the Deuel County Board of County Commissioners adopted the Deuel County Zoning Ordinance, which created the Board and authorized it to decide requests for "special exceptions" from zoning standards. In 2018, Crowned Ridge sought an SEP from the Board for the construction and operation of a WES with up to sixty-eight wind turbines to be build on property zoned for agricultural use. The Board granted the SEP, and the circuit court upheld the decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the ordinance complied with the statuary requirements of S.D. Codified Laws 11-2-17.3, and therefore, the Board acted within its jurisdiction by considering crowned Ridge's application for an SEP; (2) the Board acted within the requirements of the ordinance and S.D. Codified Laws chapter 11-2; and (3) as to Appellants, landowners in Deuel County, the Board did not illegally grant an easement over Appellants' property, nor did the ordinance violate due process. View "Ehlebracht v. Deuel County Planning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Spink County Board of Adjustment (Board) to deny the application filed by Arrow Farms RE, LLC for a conditional use permit (CUP) for a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), holding that there was no error.Preston Miles, who owned the land where Arrow Farms planned to build the CAFO, petitioned for a writ of certiorari, arguing that the Board's decision was arbitrary and that several Board members were biased or held an unreasonable risk of bias. The circuit court affirmed the denial of the CUP, determining that none of the Board members had a disqualifying interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Miles was not entitled to relief on his allegations. View "Miles v. Spink County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law