Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this negligence action on the basis of a release signed by Plaintiff. After an automobile accident, Plaintiff agreed to sign a release releasing Defendant from all claims related to the accident in exchange for reimbursement of up to $3,000 in medical bills. Plaintiff’s medical bills, however, totaled over $400,000. Plaintiff filed a negligence claim against Defendant. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant based the release. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Plaintiff’s consent was secured by undue influence; and (2) there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the release precluded Plaintiff’s claim. View "Schaefer v. Sioux Spine & Sport" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Employer and certain members of its management staff in this suit brought by Employee after Employee was terminated for allegedly slapping and secluding a senior care facility resident. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court properly granted summary judgment against Employee on his slander claim, intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, malicious prosecution claim, claim for punitive damages, wrongful termination claim, negligent infliction of emotional distress claim, and breach of contract claim. View "Harvey v. Regional Health Network" on Justia Law

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Sally Richardson alleged that her husband Michael forced her to work as a prostitute during the course of their marriage. Sally also alleged that Michael emotionally, physically, and sexually abused her, causing both humiliation and serious health problems. Sally divorced Michael on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, reserving by stipulation the right to bring other nonproperty causes of action against him. Following the divorce, Sally brought suit against Michael, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). The court, bound by South Dakota Supreme Court precedent in Pickering v. Pickering, 434 N.W.2d 758, (S.D. 1989), dismissed Sally’s suit for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Pickering held IIED was unavailable as a matter of public policy when it was predicated on conduct leading to the dissolution of marriage. Finding that Pickering was “ripe for reexamination for a number of reasons,” the South Dakota Supreme Court overruled Pickering, and reversed and remanded dismissal of Sally’s suit. View "Richardson v. Richardson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the circuit court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of AutoTrac Inc. on Varner Beals’s tort claim of deceit and Beals’s contract claims of fraud and undue influence. The court held (1) AutoTrac was entitled to summary judgment on Beals’s fraud claim because Beals failed to assert specific facts supporting his conclusory allegation that AutoTrac failed to disclose a debt; (2) summary judgment was appropriate on Beals’s claim because Beals’s conclusory allegations were not supported by specific, factual assertions, and Beals’s own deposition testimony defeated his claim; and (3) the circuit court erred by granting summary judgment on Beals’s claim of undue influence because the factual assertions raised by Beals’s raised a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Defendant took advantage of Beals’s “weakness of mind.” View "Beals v. Autotrac, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s personal injury action as a sanction for Plaintiff’s failure to comply with two discovery orders and failure to pay an attorney’s fees sanction for her failure to comply with a motion to compel discovery. The court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in granting Defendant’s motion for a sanction of attorney’s fees against Plaintiff for her failure to produce documents; (2) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint as a sanction for failing to produce IRS Form W-2s; and (3) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint as a sanction for failure to pay the attorney’s fees sanction. View "Coloni v. Coloni" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s claim alleging negligence in constructing a retaining wall from which Plaintiff suffered an injury. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant on the grounds that the statutory time period to bring a claim had expired because the retaining wall had been substantially completed more than ten years prior to the commencement of this action. See S.D. Codified Laws 15-2A-3. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that section 15-2A-3 did not bar the claim at issue because Plaintiff met her burden to set forth material facts to avoid application of the statute. View "Brude v. Breen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed a jury verdict in favor of defendant David Stukel and reversed the circuit court’s decision requiring Stukel to pay a portion of the fee for an expert witness called by plaintiff Mervin Nicolay. Nicolay sued Stukel and K&K Management Services, Inc. after Stukel’s vehicle struck the rear of Nicolay’s vehicle, alleging negligence and negligence per se. A jury unanimously found that Stukel was not negligent. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err by denying Nicolay’s motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of Stukel’s liability; (2) did not err by denying Nicolay’s motion for a new trial; (3) did not err by admitting a patrolman’s deposition, during which Stukel’s attorney showed the patrolman a newspaper article to refresh his memory; but (4) erred by requiring Stukel to pay a portion of the disputed expert witness fee. View "Nicolay v. Stukel" on Justia Law

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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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Ronald Johnson, a South Dakota State Penitentiary correctional officer, was murdered by two inmates during an escape attempt. Lynette Johnson, individually and on behalf of Ronald’s Estate (collectively, Johnson) sued the Department of Corrections (DOC) and a number of its employees in state court, alleging, among other claims, a violation of substantive due process rights under the state and federal constitutions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. DOC removed the case to federal court. The federal court granted summary judgment to DOC on the grounds of qualified immunity and remanded the remaining claims back to state court. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. After the case returned to state court, the circuit court granted DOC’s motion for summary judgment on Johnson’s remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court properly dismissed Johnson’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim; (2) no genuine issues of material fact existed as to Johnson’s fraudulent misrepresentation claim; and (3) the circuit court correctly determined that res judicata barred any constitutional due process claim arising under the South Dakota Constitution. View "Estate of Johnson v. Weber" on Justia Law

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The circuit court granted Plaintiff’s petition requesting a stalking protection order against Defendant after conducting an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court’s findings sufficiently addressed the facts of the case under the specific elements of stalking at issue such that the Supreme Court may determine whether the evidence met the statutory elements of stalking; (2) the circuit court’s findings of fact were not clearly erroneous; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it granted the protection order. View "Doremus v. Morrow" on Justia Law