Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court ordering Eryn Winegeart to sell real estate she owned jointly with her former spouse, Weston Winegeart, holding that the court did not err by ordering Eryn to sign a purchase agreement signed by a third party. After the parties underwent mediation, Weston signed an agreement with a real-estate agent to list the jointly owned real estate, and the listing agreement included a commission for the realtor. After the third party signed the purchase agreement, Eryn refused to sign it, asserting that during mediation Weston had orally agreed to sell the property without paying for a realtor. The circuit court found that the parties had not entered into an enforceable oral agreement in regard to realtor fees and ordered Eryn to sign the purchase agreement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err by entering its order requiring Eryn to sign the purchase agreement. View "Winegeart v. Winegeart" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s partial denial of Plaintiffs’ partial denial of their request for preliminary injunctive relief against Defendant, their former agent, holding that the circuit court did not err by enjoining Defendant only from soliciting business from Plaintiffs’ existing customers without also enjoining Defendant from selling to those customers. Plaintiffs, Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. and Farm Bureau Property and Casualty Insurance Co., argued in their complaint that Defendant, after leaving Farm Bureau, breached the agency contracts he entered into with Farm Bureau by selling insurance policies to clients to whom he had previously sold Farm Bureau policies. In partially denying Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief, the circuit court concluded that portions of the agency contracts that prohibited Defendant from selling to Farm Bureau’s existing customers was an invalid restraint on trade under S.D. Codified Laws chapter 53-9. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain meaning of section 53-9-12 supported the circuit court’s decision to adhere to that statute’s language. View "Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. v. Dolly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed and remanded a jury award of $260,464 after the jury found in favor of Plaintiff on its breach of contract and fraud claims against Defendant. In Stern Oil I, Defendant appealed a judgment awarding Plaintiff over eight years of lost profits in excess of $900,000. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, ruling that the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff on its breach of contract claims against Defendant and by denying Defendant’s fraud claims against Plaintiff.On remand, a jury found in favor of Plaintiff on both claims. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the circuit court erred by (1) instructing the jury on consequential damages and the foreseeability of Plaintiff’s lost profits to Defendant at the time of contracting; and (2) excluding Plaintiff’s evidence on four damage scenarios. View "Stern Oil Co. v. Brown" on Justia Law

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McKie Ford Lincoln, Inc. filed suit against Scott Hanna, its former sales manager, and Gateway Automotive, LLC, the automobile dealership Hanna owned, seeking to enforce a non-competition and disclosure agreement that Hanna signed when he was hired by McKie Ford. Hanna and Gateway filed a counterclaim against McKie Ford alleging a cause of action for barratry. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The circuit court granted the summary judgment motion filed by Hanna and Gateway and denied McKie Ford’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of McKie Ford’s motion for summary judgment, holding that Hanna was no longer subject to the non-compete agreement when he commenced ownership and operation of Gateway, and therefore, Hanna was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "McKie Ford Lincoln, Inc. v. Hanna" on Justia Law

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In this second appeal regarding a contract dispute, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not err, on remand, in concluding that the contract created a right of first refusal and that the contract was void as an unreasonable restraint against alienation. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err when it held that the parties intended to create a right of first refusal; (2) the circuit court did not err when it ruled that the contract constituted an unreasonable restraint on alienation and repugnant to the interest created; and (3) the court did not err when it refused to narrow the scope of the alienation to comply with S.D. Codified Laws 43-5-1 or another reasonable limitation. View "Laska v. Barr" 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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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 reversed the circuit court’s determination that a confidential settlement agreement entered into between the City of Sioux Falls and several contractors that built the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls was not open to public inspection under S.D. Codified Laws 1-27. A reporter for the Argus Leader sought a copy of the agreement. After the City denied the request the Argus Leader commenced this action seeing an order compelling the City to provide a copy. The circuit court entered judgment for the City. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the settlement contract at issue did not meet the requirements under section 1-27-1.5(20), and therefore, it is a public record open to inspection. View "Argus Leader Media v. Hogstad" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s determination that Owners Insurance Company did not have a duty to defend Lowery Construction & Concrete, LLC in an action filed by homeowners Tony and Stephanie Hague. The Hagues sued Lowery for breach of contract, breach of implied warranty, and negligent construction. Lowery filed a declaratory judgment action against Owners seeking a declaration that Owners had a duty to defend Lowery. The circuit court determined that coverage was excluded because the damage to the Hagues’ home was caused by Lowery’s defective work. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Owners had a duty to defend Lowery because the Hagues’ complaint arguably stated a claim covered under Lowery’s commercial general liability policy. View "Lowery Construction & Concrete, LLC v. Owners Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this insurance coverage dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the denial of summary judgment in favor of Insurer but reversed the denial of summary judgment in favor of General Contractor. Homeowners sued General Contractor and Subcontractor for damages to their home. General Contractor, which was insured under a commercial general liability policy (CGL), requested defense and indemnification from Insurer. Insurer defended General Contractor under a reservation of rights. Insurer then filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a judgment that the CGL policy did not provide coverage for General Contractor in the underlying case. General Contractor and Insurer filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The circuit court denied the motions on the ground that a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding the foreseeability of Homeowners’ damages. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment denying General Contractor’s motion and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the CGL policy required Insurer to defend General Contractor against Homeowners’ suit for damages and that factual questions regarding foreseeability were not relevant to the existence of coverage under the policy. View "Owners Insurance Co. v. Tibke Construction, Inc." on Justia Law