Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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A corporation entered into an agreement with Wells Fargo for a business line of credit. The owners of the corporation signed the document as officers of the corporation. The corporation later defaulted on the line of credit. Velocity Investments, the alleged successor in interest to Wells Fargo, subsequently filed suit against the corporation and the owners as personal guarantors of the debt. The trial court granted summary judgment for Velocity after the owners, acting pro se, failed to respond to Velocity's statement of material facts and requests for admissions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court (1) abused its discretion in denying the owners' motion for leave to answer requests for admissions, as (i) allowing the owners to answer the requests for admissions would serve the presentation of the merits of this case, and (ii) Velocity failed to demonstrate that it would be prejudiced if the owners were allowed to answer; and (2) because the trial court granted summary judgment based solely upon the owners' failure to respond to the request for admissions, genuine issues of material fact still existed, and the motion for summary judgment should have been denied. View "Velocity Invs., LLC v. Dybvig Installations, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Court interpreted a trust instrument to decide whether the death of Betty Plouf triggered the offset provision of the Plouf Family Trust, and thus, instantaneously satisfied the mortgage lien the Trust held on the home of a beneficiary. The trial court held that it did. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court had inherent authority to revisit an earlier order finding that the Trust had a first-priority lien; (2) the trial court did not err in ruling that the unambiguous terms of the Trust mandated an offset at the time of Betty's death, thus extinguishing the underlying mortgage; and (3) neither party was entitled to appellate attorney fees. View "SBS Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Plouf Family Trust" on Justia Law

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This foreclosure action involved a dispute between two creditors, Wells Fargo Financial South Dakota, Inc. and Highmark Federal Credit Union about the priority of their respective mortgage liens against a property. Both parties asserted that they were entitled to first priority. The trial court found that, despite Highmark's statutory priority, under the doctrine of equitable subrogation, Wells Fargo was entitled to first priority. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) equity in this case did not require the trial court to pierce the South Dakota recording statutes; and (2) because Highmark filed its lien on the property prior to Wells Fargo, Highmark had priority. View "Highmark Fed. Credit Union v. Wells Fargo Fin. S.D., Inc." on Justia Law

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Rachelle Hunter received a loan from Highmark Federal Credit Union to purchase a home and property. A flood damaged the home a few years later, and Hunter had no flood insurance. Hunter filed suit against Highmark, arguing that Highmark was negligent in failing to warn her to purchase flood insurance and in failing to purchase the insurance at her expense. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Highmark. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Hunter's negligence claim failed as a matter of law because she could not show that Highmark owed her a duty, and accordingly, summary judgment was appropriate. View "Highmark Fed. Credit Union v. Hunter" on Justia Law

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When Rita Fix's son and daughter-in-law, Jeff and Marie, secured a loan from the First State Bank of Roscoe by obtaining a warranty deed for the property, the Bank assured Fix she could retain possession of the house. After Jeff and Marie conveyed the house and property to the Bank, the Bank sold the property and sought to remove Fix from the house. Fix sued the Bank for, inter alia, intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). Meanwhile, Fix, Jeff, and Marie were indicted on multiple criminal counts. The State attorney who brought the charges and who represented the Bank civilly offered to dismiss the criminal charges against Fix if she would deed the house back to the Bank. Fix then amended her complaint to include a claim of abuse of process against the Bank. The trial court granted summary judgment against Fix on her IIED claim. A jury then returned a verdict finding the Bank liable for abuse of process but awarded no damages to Fix. The Supreme Court reversed on the abuse of process claim, holding that the trial court provided the jury with the incorrect legal standard for the recovery of emotional damages. Remanded for a new trial.

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Appellants Thomas and Robin Branhan borrowed money from Appellee Great Western Bank. As collateral for the loan, the Branhans gave Great Western a security interest in their shares of Glacial Lakes stock. The Branhans later defaulted on their loan. Great Western subsequently brought a foreclosure action against the Branhans. As part of a settlement agreement, the Branhans agreed to surrender and transfer to Great Western all their rights to Glacial Lakes stock they were unable to sell by a certain date. After Great Western issued a satisfaction of judgment, Glacial Lakes announced a capital call repayment. In response, the Branhans filed a motion to determine which party was entitled to the capital call repayments. The circuit court concluded that Great Western owned the stock and was therefore entitled to the repayments. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that Great Western was entitled to the capital call repayment because the benefit of capital call repayment transferred with the shares.