Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation awarding Tammy Lagler, who suffered a workplace injury, permanent-total-disability (PTD) compensation but reversing the decision to award it as a lump sum. The Department determined that Lagler was entitled to PTD compensation and issued a decision granting Lagler’s request for a lump-sum but denying her request for attorney fees. The circuit court affirmed the Department’s decision regarding Lagler’s entitlement to compensation but reversed the Department’s decision to award compensation as a lump sum. The court also reversed the Department’s denial of attorney’s fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err by affirming the Department’s decision to award PTD compensation or by reversing the Department’s decision to deny attorney’s fees. The court also correctly determined that Lagler was not entitled to a lump-sum award. View "Lagler v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court entering judgment on the jury’s general verdict in favor of real-estate developers (Developers) and against the City of Rapid City in this suit seeking to recover the prospective cost of repairing roads in a development outside Rapid City. Specifically, the Court held that the circuit court did not err by (1) denying the City’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability; (2) excluding evidence of the Developers’ litigation and settlement with their subcontractors; (3) granting one of the developer’s motion for judgment as a matter of law; (4) instructing the jury on estoppel defenses; and (5) not instructing the jury on the City’s public-nuisance claim. View "City of Rapid City v. Big Sky, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment for Defendant, a used-car dealer, on Plaintiffs’ claims alleging that the used vehicle they purchased from Defendant was sold without a muffler and that they suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from the vehicle. The circuit court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on all claims, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to generate a question of fact as to causation. On appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred in granting Defendant’s motion for summary judgment because there was sufficient evidence in the record for a jury to conclude that the defective exhaust system probably caused Appellants’ carbon monoxide exposure; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Appellants’ request for fees incurred by their expert in preparing for a deposition noticed by Defendant. View "Garrido v. Team Auto Sales, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court declining to instruct the jury on assumption of the risk in this negligence case. Ronald Jensen purchased plywood sheets from a Menard Inc. store. While an employee loaded the sheets onto the back of Ronald’s truck a gust of wind caused the plywood to tip over and fall on Ronald, resulting in severe injuries. Ronald filed a lawsuit against Menards for negligence, and his wife sued for loss of consortium. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Ronald’s wife and estate. Menards appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in denying Meanrds’ request for an instruction on assumption of the risk. The supreme Court affirmed, holding that an assumption of the risk defense could not be established. View "Jensen v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court declining to instruct the jury on assumption of the risk in this negligence case. Ronald Jensen purchased plywood sheets from a Menard Inc. store. While an employee loaded the sheets onto the back of Ronald’s truck a gust of wind caused the plywood to tip over and fall on Ronald, resulting in severe injuries. Ronald filed a lawsuit against Menards for negligence, and his wife sued for loss of consortium. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Ronald’s wife and estate. Menards appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in denying Meanrds’ request for an instruction on assumption of the risk. The supreme Court affirmed, holding that an assumption of the risk defense could not be established. View "Jensen v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this negligence case was whether the circuit court committed reversible error when it did not instruct the jury on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. Plaintiff was at a Cabela’s store when she brushed a heavy drop-down steel receiver hitch, which fell and injured Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued Cabela’s for negligence. During the settling of jury instructions, Plaintiff requested two pattern jury instructions on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, arguing that the instructions were appropriate because the only evidence of negligence was the fact that the hitch, which was under Cabela’s control, fell. The circuit court concluded that the instructions were not warranted by the evidence presented at trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not commit reversible error when it refused Plaintiff’s requested instructions because Plaintiff’s evidence left room for different presumptions or inferences negating the applicability of the doctrine. View "Steilen v. Cabela’s Wholesale, Inc." on Justia Law

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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