Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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The circuit court erred when it applied de novo review to a decision of the America Township Board of Supervisors and then reversed the Board’s decision downgrading a seven-mile stretch of road from full maintenance to minimum maintenance. A portion of the road at issue provided Appellees access to South Dakota Highway 50. Appellees appealed the Board’s decision. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision and ordered that minimum maintenance signs be taken down. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) Appellees’ lawsuit was not barred by lack of standing or by sovereign immunity; (2) the circuit court did not err in concluding that the Board acted arbitrarily because the Board failed to consider an important aspect of the issue under S.D. Codified Laws 31-13-1.1; but (3) the circuit court should have remanded the matter back to the Board for a rehearing rather than applying de novo review to the Board’s decision. View "Surat v. America Township" on Justia Law

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The Department of Game, Fish, and Parks appealed the administrative actions of Troy, Valley, and Butler Townships’ respective boards of supervisors that vacated portions of several section-line highways in Day County, arguing that the highways provided access to bodies of water held in trust by the State for the public. The circuit court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision in regard to Valley and Butler Townships but reversed and remanded in regard to Troy Township, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in imposing the burden of proof on the Department; (2) the question of whether the public harm of cutting of access to a public resource is outweighed by the public benefit in vacating the highway at issue is a policy question and therefore not properly answered by the courts; (3) the circuit court’s findings that the Valley and Butler Townships’ actions were not arbitrary were not erroneous, but Troy Township’s resolutions and orders were arbitrary; and (4) the Department was not denied due process. View "State Department of Game, Fish & Parks v. Troy Township" on Justia Law

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This case concerned the Douglas County Planning and Zoning Administrator’s grant of a building permit for a hog confinement unit. Landowners applied for a writ of mandamus compelling the Administrator and the Douglas County Planning and Zoning Commission to comply with the county’s zoning ordinance revoking the permit. After a trial, the circuit court denied Landowners’ request, concluding (1) the hog barn did not fall under any of the permitted uses of land for which a building permit could be granted; but (2) a writ of mandamus could not be used to undo an already completed act, and principles of equity would not entitle Landowners to relief. The Supreme Court ultimately affirmed the circuit court’s decision denying Landowners a writ of mandamus, holding (1) the circuit court erred in determining that the facility was not a permitted use under the ordinances; but (2) because construction of the facility had already been completed at the time of trial, issuing a writ a mandamus to revoke the permit now would be ineffective. View "Hoffman v. Van Wyk" on Justia Law

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This case concerned the Douglas County Planning and Zoning Administrator’s grant of a building permit for a hog confinement unit. Landowners applied for a writ of mandamus compelling the Administrator and the Douglas County Planning and Zoning Commission to comply with the county’s zoning ordinance revoking the permit. After a trial, the circuit court denied Landowners’ request, concluding (1) the hog barn did not fall under any of the permitted uses of land for which a building permit could be granted; but (2) a writ of mandamus could not be used to undo an already completed act, and principles of equity would not entitle Landowners to relief. The Supreme Court ultimately affirmed the circuit court’s decision denying Landowners a writ of mandamus, holding (1) the circuit court erred in determining that the facility was not a permitted use under the ordinances; but (2) because construction of the facility had already been completed at the time of trial, issuing a writ a mandamus to revoke the permit now would be ineffective. View "Hoffman v. Van Wyk" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court’s affirmance of the Board of Minerals and Environment’s determination that it had subject matter jurisdiction over a petition regarding mine permit Nos. 445 and 460. Robert Fowler and Harlan Schmidt, intervenors in LAC Mineral USA, LLC’s petition, brought this appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) mining application requirements and mining permit amendment application requirements are not requirements that need to be met for the Board to obtain subject matter jurisdiction over a mining permit or permit amendment application, and therefore, the circuit court correctly found that the Board had jurisdiction over the matter; (2) the intervenors waived the issue whether S.D. Codified Laws 45-6B-44 and S.D. Codified Laws 45-6B-45 denied Fowler due process; but (3) the circuit court and Board erred in determining that Fowler was not a landowner, as that issue was not properly before the circuit court or Board. View "In re LAC Minerals (USA), LLC’s Petitioner for Release of Reclamation Liability" on Justia Law

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Dustin Nelson filed an application for a conditional-use permit to construct and operate a concentrated animal-feeding operation in Grant County. The Grant County Board of Adjustment voted to approve the application. Geraldine and Barth Adolph petitioned the circuit court for a writ of certiorari to review the legality of the Board’s decision. The circuit court affirmed. The Adolphs appealed, arguing (1) the Board’s decision was illegal because Nelson’s proposed project violates the Zoning Ordinance for Grant County; and (2) Nelson presented a new waste-disposal plan at the public hearing, denying them an opportunity for meaningful participation. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) although the Board regularly pursued its authority in most respects, it erroneously believed that past environmental violations of a prospective applicant are never relevant in considering whether to approve an application; (2) the Adolphs were not denied due process during the public hearing; and (3) the Board did not exhibit bias requiring a new hearing. View "Adolph v. Grant County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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Black Hills Power, Inc. (BHP), a public utility in South Dakota, filed an application to increase electric rates with the South Dakota Public Utility Commission. Black Hills Industrial Intervenors (BHII) filed a motion to intervene in BHP’s rate-increase application, which the Commission granted. The parties agreed to a settlement stipulation regarding the increase in December 2014. BHP, however, sought to amend the stipulation in February 2015. The Commission granted the amended settlement stipulation and approved the rate increase. BHII appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission properly ruled that BHP could submit adjustments to the settlement stipulation after the filing of the initial application; (2) the Commission did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in its consideration of pension expenses; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the Commission’s inclusion of portions of BHP’s incentive-compensation plan. View "In re Application of Black Hills Power, Inc." on Justia Law

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Mark Black was hired as an agent of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) in 2005. Approximately one decade later, DCI terminated Black’s employment after a series of incidents and disciplinary actions. The Civil Service Commission (CSC) found that DCI had just cause to terminate Black’s employment. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) CSC did not err in finding that DCI had just cause to terminate Black’s employment; and (2) DCI complied with the applicable rules and regulations and afforded Black due process of law. View "Black v. Division of Criminal Investigation" on Justia Law

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James Mordhorst was injured while working for Fischer Furniture. Almost one year later, Dakota Truck Underwriters and Risk Administration Services (collectively, Insurers) terminated all workers’ compensation benefits. The South Dakota Department of Labor subsequently ordered Insurers to pay all past medical bills and interest as well as future medial expenses. Mordhorst then filed an action seeking punitive damages for an alleged bad-faith denial of workers’ compensation benefits. The circuit court granted Insurers’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred by granting Insurers’ motion to dismiss because Mordhorst asserted facts that, if true, state a claim for bad faith denial of a workers’ compensation claim and that Insurers’ reliance on an independent medical examiner’s report to deny benefits was not per se reasonable. View "Mordhorst v. Dakota Truck Underwriters" on Justia Law

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Westside Gilts RE, LLC submitted an application to the Beadle County Planning Commission for a conditional use permit (CUP) to construct and operate a concentrated animal feeding operation. The Planning Commission recommended approval of the CUP. The Beadle County Board of Adjustment (Board) approved the CUP. Petitioners appealed, arguing that the Board was without authority to issue the CUP because the county zoning ordinances passed in 2011 (Ordinances), which authorized the Board to grant the permit, were improperly enacted. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision granting the CUP, concluding that the Ordinances were improperly enacted. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the circuit court’s ruling reversing the Board’s decision to grant the CUP, holding that the Ordinances were invalid because the Planning Commission failed to comply with S.D. Codified Laws 11-2-18, and therefore, the Board lacked jurisdiction to grant a CUP; but (2) reversed the circuit court’s order declaring the Ordinances invalid, as the order exceeded the options available to the court under its limited scope of review on certiorari. View "Wedel v. Beadle County Comm’n" on Justia Law