Laska v. Barr, 2016 SD 6.  This is the second appeal regarding the interpretation of an agreement titled as a “right of first refusal.”  Through the years, the Laskas executed multiple agreements with Jerry Bar, Pat Cole, and Gerrit Juffer involving real estate in Charles Mix County.  This case involved an agreement entered into on February 3, 2005.  Although the agreement was titled as a “Right of First Refusal,” it also contained a fixed price option.  It also provided a provision that allowed the Barr Partners an opportunity to purchase the property if the Laskas received a bona fide third party offer to purchase all or a portion of the property at issue.  When the Laskas asked the Barr Partners to release their interest in the property, the Barr Partners refused, and a lawsuit was brought.  After a court trial, the trial court found that the language of the agreement unambiguously granted the Barr Partners a right of first refusal that terminated upon the deaths of the Laskas.  The Barr Partners appealed, and, on the first appeal, the Court concluded that the agreement was ambiguous as to whether it created a right of first refusal, an option, or a dual option and directed the court on remand to consider the parol evidence previously received during the court trial.  The Court also directed the trial court to consider whether the 2005 agreement constituted an unreasonable restraint on alienation.  After considering the parol evidence, and after briefing on the question whether the 2005 agreement was an unreasonable restraint on alienation, the trial court concluded that the agreement was a right of first refusal, but that it was void as an unreasonable restraint on alienation.  On the second appeal, the Court, per Retired Justice Wilbur, affirmed.

Lippold v. Meade County Bd. of Comm’rs, 2018 SD 7.  The City of Sturgis, Gary Lippold, and Jane Murphy appealed the Meade County Board of Commissioners’ order approving incorporation of the proposed municipality of Buffalo Chip City, South Dakota, and setting an election for voters to decide whether to assent to incorporation.  The circuit court denied a request to stay the election.  After the election, the court heard the appeal under SDCL 7-8-27 and issued a judgment declaring that the Board’s order was invalid, that the election was a nullity, and that consequently, Buffalo Chip City was void.  The Board and Buffalo Chip Campground, an intervenor, appeal the circuit court’s judgment.  On appeal, the Court, per Justice Kern, reversed the circuit court and vacated its judgment, concluding that Buffalo Chip City operates at minimum as a de facto corporation, and SDCL 9-3-20 requires that any action challenging its incorporation be brought by the State.  Because Lippold did not bring his suit on the behalf of the State, the Court concluded that the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction.

Steilen v. Cabela’s Wholesale, Inc., 2018 SD 8.  This appeal arises out of a personal injury action, alleging that an item fell off a store shelf, injuring Steilen’s wrist.  At trial, during the settling of jury instructions, Steilen requested two instructions on the res ipsa loquitur doctrine.  The trial court denied her requested instructions, concluding that the evidence presented at trial did not warrant them.  On appeal, the Court, per Justice Severson, affirmed, also concluding that the instructions were not supported by the evidence.  In the Court’s orders, “the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur looks to the neutral circumstances of full control and management by the defendant and, here, Annette’s evidence leaves room for different presumptions or inferences negating the applicability of the doctrine.”

State v. Hale, 2018 SD 9.  The State and Hale entered into a plea agreement.  At the change of plea hearing, the circuit court accepted Hale’s guilty plea and the factual basis to support the plea.  The circuit court did not indicate specific acceptance or rejection of the plea agreement that hearing, and it did not defer its decision to order a presentence investigation.  Approximately two weeks later, the circuit court informed the State and Hale that it intended to reject the plea agreement.  The State and Hale objected, contending that the court had already accepted the agreement.  After a hearing, the court entered an order rejecting the plea agreement.  Hale filed a petition for intermediate appeal, which the Court granted.  On appeal, the Court, per Justice Severson, reversed and remanded, concluding that the circuit court was bound to sentence Hale within the bounds of the plea agreement because it did not reject the agreement or defer its decision to accept or reject the agreement at the time of the plea.

In re Conservatorship of Martin Bachand, 2018 SD 10.  This appeal presented the question whether a guardian’s attorneys’ fees should be paid from a protected person’s estate when the fees are incurred responding to pleadings to remove the guardian and to move the protected person to an assisted living facility.  The circuit court denied payment of the fees.  On appeal, the Court, per Justice Zinter, reversed and remanded, concluding that, without a proper resolution of various factual matters presented to the circuit court, it was unable to meaningfully review the circuit court’s decision.  The Court therefore directed the circuit court to address the parties’ conflicting claims on remand, to determine whether the guardian’s attorneys’ fees were necessarily incurred in the administration of the guardianship, and to examine the reasonableness of the amount of the attorneys’ fees.