Streff v. State Farm Mut’l Auto. Ins. Co., 2017 SD 83. SDCL 58-11-9.4 requires underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage in “motor vehicle liability polic[ies]” of insurance. The Streffs purchased a motor vehicle liability policy from one insurer and also purchased a personal liability umbrella policy from a separate but related insurer. Both policies provided UIM coverage, but both excluded coverage for accidents caused by government vehicles. When Jody was injured in an accident involving a government vehicle, a dispute arose concerning the enforceability of the exclusions. The circuit court ruled that the exclusion was not enforceable in the motor vehicle liability policy but was enforceable in the umbrella policy. The Streffs appealed, and the Court, per Justice Severson (on reassignment), reversed, holding that the South Dakota UIM statute is not limited to primary insurance policies, and that the statute contemplates additional coverage. Thus, by extension, umbrella policies that include UIM coverage are subject to the same public policy prohibitions on the exception of government vehicles from UIM coverage. Justices Zinter and Kern dissented.
Valley Power Sys. v. S.D. Dep’t of Revenue, 2017 SD 84. Valley Power Systems, Inc. contracted to install new exhaust manifolds on five “mobile power units” that were used by a utility company to provide supplemental power at one of its power plants. Valley Power did not pay contractor’s excise tax or use tax with respect to the transaction. Following audits of both companies, the Department of Revenue issued a certificate of assessment requiring Valley Power to pay alternate contractor’s excise tax, use tax, interest, and a penalty. An administrative hearing examiner and the circuit court affirmed. On appeal, the Court, per Justice Zinter, again affirmed. As to the excise tax, the Court concluded that the Department did not err in concluding that Valley Power’s services constituted a repair of a fixture to realty, thereby subjecting Valley Power to the alternate contractor’s excise tax under SDCL 10-46B-2. As to the use tax, the Court concluded that the Department did not err in concluding that Valley Power was required to pay a use tax under SDCL 10-46-5, because Valley Power was a “contractor as defined in chapters 10-46A and 10-46B,” and there as no dispute that Valley Power used “tangible personal property [the exhaust manifolds] . . . in the performance of [its] contract.”
Sigler v. Sigler, 2017 SD 85. After a motion to modify custody, the circuit court granted Father joint custody and a cross-credit on child support because T.S. resided with him seven out of every fourteen days. In making that decision, the court found that application of the cross-credit would not have a “substantial negative effect” on T.S.’s standard of living, and that Theresa’s budget showed that she lived beyond her means. The circuit court reduced Father’s monthly child support payment. Theresa appealed, arguing that the circuit court made erroneous findings of fact and abused its discretion by granting the cross-credit. On appeal, the Court, per Justice Kern, reversed and remanded, because the court’s findings did not reflect that it considered the expenses of the children in proportion to the parents’ incomes or whether the cross-credit would have a substantial negative effect on T.S.’s standard of living.
State v. Bausch, 2017 SD 86. The Court previously reversed Josh Bausch’s convictions for sexual contact and remanded the case with direction that the circuit court vacate the convictions and resentence Bausch on the remaining rape convictions. After the circuit court entered a new judgment of conviction and sentence as directed by our remand, Bausch filed a motion for a new trial. The circuit court denied the motion, and Bausch appealed. The Court, per Justice Severson, affirmed, concluding that the circuit court properly carried out its remand directive.
Croell Redi-Mix, Inc. v. Pennington County Bd. of Comm’rs, et al., 2017 SD 87. The Pennington County Planning Director approved a construction permit for Croell Redi-Mix, Inc. to continue using and expand an existing mining operation. The Pennington County Board of Commissioners reversed. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision and ordered the Board to reinstate the permit. The Board appealed, arguing that the issuance of the permit violated Pennington County’s zoning ordinances. On appeal, the Court, per Chief Justice Gilbertson, reversed, concluding that, under Pennington County ordinance, Croell’s intended use of the land zoned as A-1 General Agricultural District could not be authorized in the absence of a mining permit, and that the circuit court’s conclusion that the Board acted arbitrarily in denying the construction permit was therefore premised on an erroneous interpretation of the controlling ordinances.
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. v. Parkshill Farms, L.L.C., et al., 2017 SD 88. Through formal condemnation proceedings, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and Otter Tail Power Co. obtained easements to construct a powerline across four parcels belonging to Parkshill Farmers, LLC, and the Parkses. The Parkses appealed, arguing that the easements were not taken for a public use, and that they are unnecessary. They also argued that the circuit court abused its discretion when it rejected a jury instruction that the Parkses requested. On appeal, the Court, per Chief Justice Gilbertson, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, concluding that the easements were taken for a public use and that the determination of necessity was not an abuse of discretion, but that the circuit court did not adequately instruct the jury on the appropriate measure of compensation due for the easements.