Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Department of Public Safety to disqualify Appellant's commercial driver's license (CDL) for one year after he pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) and received a suspended imposition of sentence, holding that the Department properly disqualified Appellant's CDL.On appeal, Appellant argued that the Department violated the doctrine of separation of powers under the state constitution by unconstitutionally infringing upon the judiciary's sentencing authority and that the Department no longer had the statutory authority to disqualify Appellant's CDL once his case was dismissed and discharged. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant failed to show that South Dakota's CDL disqualification statutes violate the separation of powers doctrine in article II of the state constitution; and (2) the Department properly considered Appellant's 2016 DUI conviction for the purpose of CDL disqualification under S.D. Codified Laws 32-12A-32. View "Jans v. Department of Public Safety" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (Department) concluding that it lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claim seeking workers' compensation benefits, holding that the Department had the authority to adjudicate Plaintiff's claim.Plaintiff was injured in Wyoming while working at a job for Defendant, a corporation formed and headquartered in South Dakota. Plaintiff applied for and received workers' compensation benefits in Wyoming. Later, Plaintiff sought benefits in South Dakota, which has more favorable workers' compensation statutes. The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation dismissed the petition, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that South Dakota had a substantial connection to the parties' employment relationship sufficient to provide the Department with authority to adjudicate Plaintiff's claim. View "Anderson v. Tri State Construction, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Department of Labor and Regulation determining that a copy of a letter to Appellant's insurer seeking a review of his workers' compensation benefits did not constitute a petition for a hearing, holding that the Department and the circuit court did not err.Appellant injured his left and right shoulder at work. Western National Insurance (Insurer), the workers' compensation for Appellant's employers, paid workers' compensation benefits. Five years later, Appellant sent a letter to Insurer seeking a review of his workers' compensation benefits and sent a copy of this letter to the Department requesting that the Department determine that the letter constituted a petition for hearing. The Department concluded that the letter was not a petition for hearing because it lacked the information required by ARSD 47:03:01:02. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that Appellant's letter did not satisfy ARSD 47:03:01:02. View "May v. Spearfish Pellett Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Department of Labor denying Taylor Hughes's workers' compensation claim for an alleged work-related back injury, holding that the circuit court correctly held that Hughes was entitled to recover for his injury.After a hearing, the Department determined that Hughes had not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that his disability was caused by a workplace injury and that his work activities were a major contributing cause of his disability. The circuit court reversed, determining (1) the Department erred by applying the incorrect standard to the causation of the injury, and (2) the Department's finding that Hughes failed to establish causation was clearly erroneous. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly overturned the Department's decision because Hughes proved by a preponderance of the evidence that his injury was work-related and that his employment was a major contributing cause of his current condition. View "Hughes v. Dakota Mill & Grain" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court reversing the judgment of the Department of Public Safety ordering Appellee's commercial driving privileges to be disqualified for one year, holding that commercial driver's license (CDL) disqualification under S.D. Codified Laws 32-12A-36(4) applies when a vehicle is used as a means to possess a felony quantity of marijuana.The Department disqualified Appellee's commercial driving privileges for one year pursuant to 32-12A-36(4) because he had been convicted of a felony committed in a vehicle by a CDL holder. The circuit court reversed Appellee's CDL disqualification, holding that the statute requires that a vehicle was an "instrumentality" of the felony. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the Department's decision, holding (1) possession of a felony quantity of marijuana in a vehicle is "using a...vehicle in the commission of any felony" under section 13-21A-36(4); (2) the circuit court erred by holding that section 13-21A-36(4) was unconstitutionally vague; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support the Department's disqualification of Appellee's CDL privileges. View "Ibrahim v. Department Of Public Safety" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Department of Labor and Regulation denying Steven Billman's application for permanent total disability benefits, holding that the Department's determination that Billman was not obviously unemployable was clearly erroneous.During his employment, Billman suffered a work-related injury that required the amputation of his left leg just below the knee. The Department denied Billman's application for benefits, finding that Billman was not obviously unemployable and that he failed to conduct a reasonable job search. The circuit court affirmed the Department's findings. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Billman established that he was obviously unemployable, and therefore, he was entitled to odd-lot disability benefits. View "Billman v. Clarke Machine, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Deuel County Board of Adjustment granting special exception permits (SEP) to Deuel Harvest Wind Energy, LLC and Deuel Harvest Wind Energy South, LLC (Deuel Harvest) to develop two wind energy systems in the County, holding that the circuit court erred by invalidating the votes of two Board members.Following a public hearing, the Board unanimously approved the SEPs. Appellees, several residents of Deuel County and neighboring counties, petitioned for a writ of certiorari, asserting that several Board members had interests or biases disqualifying them from considering the permits. The circuit court invalidated the votes of two Board members due to disqualifying interests and overturned the Board's approval of the SEPs. The Supreme Court reversed in part and reinstated the Board's unanimous vote in approving the SEPs, holding that the circuit court erred in disqualifying the two members from voting on the SEPs. View "Holborn v. Deuel County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Oglala Lakota County Commission denying Wings as Eagles Ministries, Inc.'s petition seeking an abatement of its property taxes for 2014 and 2015, holding that the circuit court did not err.Wings applied for property tax exempt status for the 2014 and 2015 tax years. The applications were denied and became final determinations of the property's exempt status for those years. Wings then filed its abatement petition, which the Commission denied. The circuit court affirmed, concluding that Wings was unable to meet the threshold eligibility element for an abatement because the final determinations denying exempt status conclusively established that Wings was not exempt for the 2014 and 2015 tax years. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err when it concluded that Wings did not qualify for an abatement under S.D. Codified Laws 10-18-1(3); and (2) Wings' estoppel argument was unreviewable on appeal. View "Wings As Eagles Ministries, Inc. v. Oglala Lakota County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dissolving Buffalo Chip's municipal incorporation, holding that the State had the authority to petition the court for such relief and that the circuit court did not err in holding that Buffalo Chip failed to satisfy the residency requirements in S.D. Codified Laws 9-3-1.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court properly allowed the State to institute this action against Buffalo Chip under S.D. Codified Laws 21-28-2(3) and S.D. Codified Laws 9-3-20; and (2) the circuit court did not err in its interpretation of S.D. Codified Laws 9-3-1. View "State v. Buffalo Chip" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Department of Labor determining that sergeants in the Yankton Police Department are ineligible for membership in a collective bargaining unit because they have authority to hire or effectively recommend hiring decisions, holding that the circuit court erred in disturbing the Department's findings and conclusions.The City of Yankton filed a request with the Department to define the membership of a collective bargaining unit. After a hearing, the Department found that police sergeants have authority to hire or effectively recommend hiring and are thus excluded from membership in the collective bargaining unit. The circuit court reversed, holding that sergeants should be included in bargaining unit membership. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in determining that the Department's relevant findings of fact were inadequate and that its conclusions of law were incorrect; and (2) the circuit court erred in determining that sergeants have no authority to hire or effectively recommend hiring decisions. View "Fraternal Order Of Police v. City Of Yankton" on Justia Law