Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approving the application of Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC for a permit to construct a wind energy farm in northeast South Dakota, holding that the PUC acted within its discretion in this case.After a contested hearing, the PUC issued a written decision approving the permit. Two individuals who lived in rural areas near the project and had intervened to oppose Crowned Ridge's application sought review. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) neither of the Intervenors' evidentiary claims were sustainable; and (2) even if the Intervenors' claims were preserved for appeal, the PUC acted within its discretion when it denied the Intervenors' challenges to certain testimony. View "Christenson v. Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approving the application of Crowned Ridge Wind II, LLC to construct a large wind energy farm in northeast South Dakota, holding that the PUC followed the applicable statutory directives in granting the construction permit and properly determined that Crowned Ridge satisfied its burden of proof under S.D. Codified Laws 49-41B-22.After a contested hearing, the PUC issued a written decision approving the permit. Two individuals who lived in rural areas near the project and had intervened to oppose Crowned Ridge's application sought review. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the PUC did not err when it determined that Crowned Ridge met its burden of proof to comply with all applicable laws and rules; and (2) the PUC's findings were not clearly erroneous as they related to crowned Ridge's burden under S.D. Codified Laws 49-41B-22(3). View "Christenson v. Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Department of Labor of Regulation granting Employer/Insurer's motion for summary judgment regarding medical expenses Claimant incurred while being treated by Dr. Donald Corenman, holding that the circuit court erred in part.Employer and Insurer denied coverage for the medical expenses Claimant incurred by being treated for her back injury by Dr. Corenman. Claimant filed a petition for hearing with the Department, which granted summary judgment for Employer/Insurer as to these medical expenses. The circuit court affirmed. Claimant appealed, and Employer/Insurer filed a notice of review regarding an earlier Department ruling. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the Department erred in granting summary judgment denying compensation for Dr. Corenman's medical services. View "Dittman v. Rapid City School District" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Petitioner's petition for a writ of certiorari challenging the Lake County Board's decision to grant a variance to Hodne Homes, LLC to build a facility to store and display boats, holding that the circuit court erred.In Dunham I, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's denial of Petitioner's challenge to the variance. On remand, the circuit court addressed a newly-raised issue about Petitioner's standing and then dismissed the petition because of a lack of standing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Petitioner was an "aggrieved" party with standing to challenge the variance under S.D. Codified Laws 11-2. View "Dunham v. Lake County Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court upholding the decision of the White Township Board of Supervisors denying approval of the drainage project of Steven McLean and Matthew McLean, holding that the circuit court properly granted the Township summary judgment.After the Marshal County Drainage Board granted the McLeans a drainage permit they sought approval from the Township because their project could impact roads or rights-of-way in the Township. The Township denied the McLeans' drainage project. The circuit court upheld the Township's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in determining that the McLaens' appeal was untimely; (2) the circuit court properly determined that the Township can regulate the aspects of the McLaens' project that would impact Township roads and rights-of-way; (3) the McLeans' estoppel claim was without merit; and (4) the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment upholding the Township's decision. View "McLaen v. White Township" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Davison County Drainage Commission approving permits to install drain tile on Appellant's farmland, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to hear Kenneth Hostler's challenge to the commission's permitting decision.Hostler, Appellant's downstream neighbor, appeared on the commission's public hearing on Appellant's applications and objected to the permits. After the commission approved the permits Hostler appealed. The circuit court reversed, ruling that the commission abused its discretion in granting the permits. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court's order, holding that the circuit court did not have authority under the Declaratory Judgment Act to consider Hostler's complaint challenging the commission's decision to grant Appellant's permitting request. View "Hostler v. Davison County Drainage Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court upheld the action of the Deuel County Board of Adjustment (Board) unanimously approving the application filed by Crowned Ridge Wind II, LLC for a special exception permit (SEP) to construct and operate a wind energy system (WES) in Deuel County, holding that there was no error.In 2004, the Deuel County Board of County Commissioners adopted the Deuel County Zoning Ordinance, which created the Board and authorized it to decide requests for "special exceptions" from zoning standards. In 2018, Crowned Ridge sought an SEP from the Board for the construction and operation of a WES with up to sixty-eight wind turbines to be build on property zoned for agricultural use. The Board granted the SEP, and the circuit court upheld the decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the ordinance complied with the statuary requirements of S.D. Codified Laws 11-2-17.3, and therefore, the Board acted within its jurisdiction by considering crowned Ridge's application for an SEP; (2) the Board acted within the requirements of the ordinance and S.D. Codified Laws chapter 11-2; and (3) as to Appellants, landowners in Deuel County, the Board did not illegally grant an easement over Appellants' property, nor did the ordinance violate due process. View "Ehlebracht v. Deuel County Planning Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approving the application filed by Crowned Ridge Wind II, LLC for a permit to construct a large-scale wind energy farm in northeast South Dakota, holding that there was no error.Several individual intervened in this case and objected to Crowned Ridge's application. After an evidentiary hearing, the PUC voted unanimously to approve Crowned Ridge's permit. The circuit court affirmed the issuance of the permit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the intervenors failed to raise any meritorious issues upon which the PUC's final decision and order may be reversed or modified. View "Ehlebracht v. Crowned Ridge Wind II, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Spink County Board of Adjustment (Board) to deny the application filed by Arrow Farms RE, LLC for a conditional use permit (CUP) for a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), holding that there was no error.Preston Miles, who owned the land where Arrow Farms planned to build the CAFO, petitioned for a writ of certiorari, arguing that the Board's decision was arbitrary and that several Board members were biased or held an unreasonable risk of bias. The circuit court affirmed the denial of the CUP, determining that none of the Board members had a disqualifying interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Miles was not entitled to relief on his allegations. View "Miles v. Spink County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

by
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