Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment declining to declare that the City of Rapid City unlawfully bargained away its police power when it entered into a settlement agreement with Epic Outdoor Advertising under which the City agreed to amend certain sign ordinances and grant Epic two sign permits, holding that the circuit court did not err.Lamar Advertising brought this appeal. By notice of review, Epic asserted that the circuit court erred in denying its request that the court declare invalid a similar settlement agreement executed between Lamar and the City. The Supreme Court affirmed in all respects, holding (1) because the City did not contract away its police powers by agreeing to amend the sign code, and because Lamar did not establish that the City acted unreasonably or arbitrarily when it amended the sign code, the circuit court did not err in denying Lamar's motion for summary judgment requesting a declaration that the settlement agreement and the ordinance agreements were invalid; (2) challenges to the granting of permits, such as those brought by Lamar, must be pursued through the administrative process; and (3) the circuit court did not err in failing to find the settlement agreement previously entered into between Lamar and the City invalid. View "Lamar Advertising Of South Dakota, LLC v. City of Rapid City" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court affirming the assessed value of Appellants' agricultural land by the Meade County Commission sitting as a board of equalization (the Board), holding that the circuit court did not err.Before the Board, Appellants argued that the director of equalization incorrectly applied statutory provisions to determine their land's production value. The Board further adjusted the assessment from an average of $519 per acre down to an average of $512 per acre. Appellants appealed the Board's decision to circuit court. After a trial de novo, the circuit court affirmed the Board's tax assessment of the property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err when it determined that (1) the Board complied with the statutory provisions for evaluating agricultural land in their assessment of Appellants' property; and (2) the Board's tax assessment of the property did not violate provisions of the South Dakota Constitution that require uniform taxation at no more than its actual value. View "Trask v. Meade County Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court denying Karen Dunham's petition for writ of certiorari challenging the decision of the Lake County Board of Adjustment (Board) approving Hodne Homes, LLC's requests for a variance and conditional use permit (CUP), holding that the Board exceeded its authority in granting the variance but did not exceed its legal authority when it approved the CUP.Hodne Homes purchased a Lake County lot to build a facility to store and display boats. Hodne Homes sought the variance and CUP because the proposed facility exceeded the size and setback restrictions for the lot under the Lake County Zoning Ordinance. Dunham, an adjoining landowner, objected, but the Board granted both requests. The court of appeals denied Dunham's petition for writ of certiorari challenging the Board's decision. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the Board exceeded its legal authority under the ordinance when it approved the variance; and (2) the Board did not exceed its authority under the ordinance when it approved the CUP, the Board's decision did not violate Dunham's due process rights, and the Board committed no procedural errors in its approval of the CUP. View "Dunham v. Lake County Commission" on Justia Law