Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
Cameron v. Osler
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting the motion to dismiss filed by Waste Connections of South Dakota, Inc. on Kimberlynn Cameron's complaint, holding that Cameron properly initiated suit against Waste Connections prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, and therefore, the circuit court erred when it dismissed the suit. Cameron brought a personal injury suit against Jason Osler after she was injured in a car accident. Thereafter, Cameron filed an amended complaint adding a claim for vicarious liability and naming Waste Connections, Osler's employer, as a defendant. Cameron, however, failed timely to serve Osler, and he was dismissed from the suit. In its motion to dismiss Waste Connections argued that Cameron's failure to timely serve Osler precluded suit against Waste Connections. The circuit court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the dismissal of Osler did not preclude suit against the employer for vicarious liability. View "Cameron v. Osler" on Justia Law
James v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.
In this declaratory relief proceeding, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's denial of State Farm's motion for summary judgment and entered a judgment in favor of LeRoy James on his complaint alleging that State Farm had no right to reimbursement or subrogation for paying James's medical expenses under his policy, holding that State Farm had no contractual right to reimbursement for the $5,000 paid to James for medical expenses under the policy. State Farm insured both James and Melissa Rivers, who rear-ended James and caused him personal injury. State Farm paid a portion of James's medical expenses under his policy and then, acting on behalf of Rivers, settled with James. Once James released Rivers from liability, State Farm demanded that James use his settlement proceeds to reimburse State Farm for paying his medical expenses. James then brought this action. The circuit court entered a judgment in favor of James. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the text of the reimbursement provision of the policy was ambiguous, and therefore, State Farm had no contractual right to reimbursement from James. View "James v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Tammen v. K & K Management Services, Inc.
In this negligence case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding that Defendant was not negligent, holding that Plaintiff's claims of error, many of which related to the jury instructions, were unavailing. Plaintiff sought Defendant, a restaurant, for negligence, alleging that Defendant failed to take reasonable measures to keep its parking lot safe by removing snow and ice. After the close of the evidence, the trial court struck Defendant's defense of assumption of risk but determined that Defendant had presented sufficient evidence to submit the issue of contributory negligence to the jury. The jury entered a verdict finding Defendant not negligent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the jury instructions, and the court provided the jury a full and accurate statement of the applicable law and legal principles; and (2) because the jury found Defendant not negligent, this Court need not address Plaintiff's remaining issues related to the defense of contributory negligence and her request for an instruction on dormant pre-existing health conditions. View "Tammen v. K & K Management Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Geidel v. De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant insurer in this breach of contract action, holding that Defendant did not have a duty to defend Plaintiff in a case brought against him by his neighbors. Plaintiff was insured under a farm liability policy issued by Defendant. Plaintiff sold a portion of his property, and the purchaser operated a hog confinement facility on that property. Plaintiff's neighbors sued Plaintiff and the owner of the hog facility, alleging nuisance, trespass, and negligence. Defendant refused to defend Plaintiff against the lawsuit. After successfully defending the suit Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant, alleging that Defendant had a duty to defend. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant did not have a duty to defend where Defendant established that none of the claims against Plaintiff, if true, arguably fell within Defendant's policy coverage. View "Geidel v. De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Larimer v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding in favor of Plaintiff in this declaratory judgment action seeking underinsured motorist benefits under two insurance policies with Defendant, holding that the policy language was ambiguous and that underinsured motorist coverage applied. Plaintiff, special administrator of the Estate of Nehemiah Larimer, brought this action following Nehemiah's death in an accident. Defendant denied coverage pursuant to an "owned but not insured" exclusion in the underinsured motorist benefits endorsement. The circuit court, finding the language of the policy ambiguous, granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the language of the underinsured motorist endorsement was ambiguous, and therefore, the interpretation most favorable to the insured must be adopted. View "Larimer v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Leighton v. Bennett
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant's counsel's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's personal injury action after Defendant died during the pendency of the action and Plaintiff failed to move to substitute Defendant's estate or personal representative, holding that the circuit court did not err when it dismissed Plaintiff's case. After Defendant's counsel moved to dismiss the case, Plaintiff moved for substitution, arguing that the period for seeking substitution had not commenced because Defendant's counsel had not served notice of Defendant's death on Defendant's estate or personal representative. The circuit court granted the motion to dismiss, concluding that Plaintiff's motion for substitution was untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-25(a)(1) does not require service of the notice of death on the decedent's estate or personal representative; (2) the circuit court did not err when it denied Plaintiff's motion for substitution as untimely and when it denied Plaintiff's motion for enlargement due to an insufficient factual showing to support a finding of excusable neglect; and (3) under the circumstances, the circuit court did not err when it dismissed Plaintiff's case. View "Leighton v. Bennett" on Justia Law
Cooper v. Brownell
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s orders granting Defendants’ motion to vacate default judgments and in granting summary judgment for Defendants in this personal injury action, holding that summary judgment was proper because Plaintiff did not resist summary judgment with specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial on the question of causation for his claimed injuries. Plaintiff brought this action following a car accident and obtained default judgments against Defendants. Defendants filed a motion to set aside the default judgments, which the circuit court granted. Thereafter, Defendants moved for summary judgment not he grounds that Plaintiff could not prove causation absent an expert opinion showing his injuries were caused by the collision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in concluding that expert testimony was necessary to prove the accident proximately caused Plaintiff’s injuries; and (2) under the circumstances, the court did not err in granting Defendants’ motion to set aside the default judgment or in denying Defendant’s motion to reinstate the default judgment. View "Cooper v. Brownell" on Justia Law
Skjonsberg v. Menard, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation awarding partial summary judgment in favor of Claimant for existing medical expenses she incurred after she suffered a workplace injury to her right foot that required surgery. This appeal concerned Claimant’s second motion for partial summary judgment to recover existing medical expenses after the Department first award partial summary judgment for Claimant’s incurred medical expenses. Employer and its insurer paid the outstanding medical expenses and then argued that a decision on the second motion was unnecessary because the issue was moot. The Department granted partial summary judgment in favor of Claimant. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment affirming the Department’s decision and remanded to the circuit court with instructions that the court order the Department to vacate its order and dismiss Claimant’s claim for medical expenses, holding that the claim for medical expenses set forth in Claimant’s motion for partial summary judgment became moot prior to the Department’s final order granting summary judgment and was moot when the circuit court reviewed it on appeal. View "Skjonsberg v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law
Cedar v. Johnson
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the circuit court’s grant of Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law in this action for alienation of affections, holding that the circuit court erred by determining as a matter of law that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence of the amount of his damages. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant for causing the end of Defendant’s marriage. The court granted Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, concluding that Plaintiff failed to present evidence of his damages. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his action, and Defendant filed a notice of review, challenging the circuit court’s denial of his other grounds for dismissal as a matter of law. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred by determining as a matter of law that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence of the amount of his damages; (2) the circuit court did not err in not granting Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on liability and causation; and (3) the cause of action for alienation of affections does not violate public policy. View "Cedar v. Johnson" on Justia Law
Fischer v. City of Sioux Falls
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Sioux Falls on Plaintiff’s complaint for negligence, holding that there was not a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the City’s conduct amounted to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Plaintiff was seriously injured while riding a bicycle through a public park in the City. Plaintiff sued the City for negligence. The circuit court concluded that the City was immune from liability for such negligence claims and granted summary judgment based on S.D. Codified Laws 20-9-20 and -21, which immunize a municipality for liability for negligence in connection with land open to the public for recreational use. On appeal, Defendant argued that there remained a question of fact as to whether the City was liable for his injury due to the City’s gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Plaintiff could not survive summary judgment when he simply alleged negligence as a cause of action and that Plaintiff failed to provide sufficient probative evidence that would permit a fining of willful or wanton misconduct on more than mere speculation or conjecture. View "Fischer v. City of Sioux Falls" on Justia Law