Justia Agriculture Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
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The case involves MRose Development Co., LLC and Jason Schumacher (MRose) who sought to develop farmland located along Swan Lake in Turner County into 15 lakefront lots. The land was currently included in an agricultural zoning district, and due to residential density restrictions, MRose applied to rezone the land into a lake residential district. The Turner County Board of County Commissioners (the County) denied the application, and MRose appealed to the circuit court.The circuit court reversed the County's decision, interpreting Turner County's zoning ordinance to require approval of the rezoning application as a purely ministerial act because the land was situated along Swan Lake. The County appealed this decision.The Supreme Court of the State of South Dakota reversed the circuit court's decision. The court found that the circuit court erred in its interpretation of the 2008 Zoning Ordinance, which it believed required the County to approve MRose's rezoning application. The Supreme Court held that no provision in the entire 2008 Zoning Ordinance stated that lakefront property must be zoned Lake Residential simply by virtue of its location. The court also held that the County's decision to deny MRose's rezoning application was not arbitrary, as MRose failed to meet its burden of proof that the County acted arbitrarily. View "Mrose Development Co. v. Turner County Bd. Of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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The case involves J and L Farms, Inc. (J&L), a South Dakota company, and First Bank, a Florida banking corporation. J&L had an ongoing business relationship with Jackman Wagyu Beef, LLC (Jackman), a Florida-registered company, where Jackman would purchase cattle from J&L. In 2018, Jackman proposed a change in their payment terms, offering to pay for the cattle within 30 days of placing an order, instead of paying prior to the cattle being shipped. To secure each payment, Jackman proposed that J&L would be given a bank guarantee from First Bank. First Bank issued three separate guaranty letters to J&L to secure payment for the sale of cattle. However, Jackman failed to provide full payment for two orders, and First Bank refused to satisfy the outstanding balance.The circuit court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit in Brown County, South Dakota, entered a default judgment against Jackman after it failed to plead or defend against J&L’s complaint. First Bank filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that it did not have sufficient minimum contacts for a South Dakota court to exercise personal jurisdiction over it. The circuit court denied the motion.The Supreme Court of the State of South Dakota affirmed the circuit court's decision. The Supreme Court found that First Bank had sufficient minimum contacts with South Dakota to establish personal jurisdiction. The court reasoned that First Bank purposefully availed itself of the privileges of acting in South Dakota by issuing three guaranty letters to J&L, a South Dakota company, to facilitate the purchase of South Dakota cattle. The court also found that the cause of action against First Bank arose from its activities directed at South Dakota, and that the acts of First Bank had a substantial connection with South Dakota, making the exercise of jurisdiction over First Bank reasonable. View "J&l Farms" on Justia Law

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In this case heard by the Supreme Court of the State of South Dakota, Ivan and Donita Weber, who were married for less than four years, sought a divorce. Prior to their marriage, Donita owned significant assets, including a valuable farmland. During their marriage, the couple co-mingled and jointly titled most of their assets, including the farmland. They worked on and made improvements to the farm before selling it and most of the accompanying assets for approximately $2.5 million. Upon divorce, the circuit court treated most of the parties’ property as marital but awarded Donita a much larger share. Ivan appealed, arguing that the circuit court abused its discretion in dividing the marital assets and in failing to award him spousal support.The Supreme Court of the State of South Dakota affirmed the lower court's decision. The court found that the circuit court appropriately considered the relevant factors, including the duration of the marriage, the value of the property owned by the parties, their ages, health, ability to earn a living, the contribution of each party to the accumulation of the property, and the income-producing capacity of the parties’ assets. The court found that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in dividing the marital property, given the short length of their marriage and the fact that Donita brought in significantly more assets into the marriage than Ivan.Regarding Ivan's argument for spousal support, the court found that Ivan had waived his right to appeal this issue because he failed to present any issue concerning spousal support to the circuit court. Therefore, the court declined to award Ivan any attorney fees and awarded $5,000 in appellate attorney fees to Donita. View "Weber V. Weber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in this lawsuit it brought seeking a declaration that it had no duty to defend or indemnify its insureds under the circumstances, holding that the circuit court did not err.Agtegra Cooperative brought the underlying lawsuit alleging that Mike Grunewaldt and Nancy Grunewaldt were liable to Agtegra for damages related to its delivery of wheat contaminated with fertilizer to Agtegra's elevator. State Farm, the Grunewaldts' insurance company, then commenced a separate lawsuit arguing that it had no duty to defend or indemnify the Grunewaldts to pay any judgment arising from the allegations in Agtegra's action. The circuit court granted summary judgment for State Farm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly held that State Farm had no duty to defend or indemnify the Grunewaldts in the lawsuit initiated by Agtegra. View "State Farm v. Grunewaldt" on Justia Law

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Dallas Schott, owner of Corson County Feeders, Inc., sued South Dakota Wheat Growers Association (SDWG), alleging its agronomist incorrectly prescribed a herbicide that Schott sprayed on his 2014 sunflower crop. The herbicide was not labeled for use on all of Schott’s sunflowers, and 1,200 acres were destroyed. The circuit court granted SDWG summary judgment, ruling that Schott assumed the risk. After review, the South Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded after finding there were disputed issues of fact concerning Schott’s knowledge and appreciation of the risk. View "Schott v. So. Dakota Wheat Growers Assn." on Justia Law