Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
Kovac v. S.D. Reemployment Assistance Division
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing this administrative appeal brought by Brittain Kovac from a final decision of the South Dakota Department of Labor of Regulation's Reemployment Assistance Division (RAD) determining that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction over this administrative appeal.An administrative law judge (ALJ) concluded that Kovac was ineligible to have received $20,278 in federal pandemic unemployment benefits and ordered her to repay them. Kovac attempted to filed notices of appeal, but the pleadings were returned unfiled for not meeting the requirements set forth in S.D. Codified Laws 1-26-31. Kovac then appealed with assistance of counsel. The circuit court dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to Kovac's failure to timely perfect an appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a notice of appeal is considered filed under section 1-26-31 on the date of receipt by the clerk of courts' office, regardless of the date the office formally accepts notice of appeal; and (2) Kovac's notice of appeal was sufficient to constitute a timely "filing" under the statute. View "Kovac v. S.D. Reemployment Assistance Division" on Justia Law
Bankston v. New Angus, LLC
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court reversing an administrative law judge's (ALJ) decision determining that Appellant was disqualified from receiving reemployment assistance benefits because he was discharged for work-connected misconduct, holding that this Court could not conduct a meaningful appellate review.The ALJ in this case determined that Appellant could not entitled to reemployment assistance benefits because he was discharged for work-related misconduct, as defined by S.D. Codified Laws 61-6-14.1. The circuit court reversed, concluding that Appellant's habit of hugging co-workers did not constitute misconduct. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the ALJ failed to enter findings on Appellant's alleged sexual misconduct, this Court could not conduct a meaningful appellate review. View "Bankston v. New Angus, LLC" on Justia Law
Bracken v. Dep’t of Labor & Regulation, Reemployment Assistance Division
The Supreme Court reversed the administrative and circuit court decisions ordering Appellant to repay $14,080 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits that Appellant had received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), holding that the circuit court erred.After Congress passed the CARES Act creating a temporary, state-administered PUA benefits program for unemployed individuals, Appellant, a self-employed individual who owned a small bed and breakfast, applied for PUA benefits after becoming unemployed "as a result of COVID-19[.]" The Department of Labor and Regulation, Reemployment Assistance Division determined Appellant was eligible for PUA benefits and issued a series of payments totaling $14,080. Later, however, the Department determined that Appellant was not eligible for benefits because she was "not considered unemployed" under any of the bases listed in the CARES Act. The Department then ordered Appellant to repay the PUA benefits. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ALJ erred in applying the causation standard in the Self-Employment Rule and further erred in concluding that Appellant was ineligible for PUA benefits. View "Bracken v. Dep't of Labor & Regulation, Reemployment Assistance Division" on Justia Law
Hussein v. Showplace Wood Products Inc.
In this workers' compensation case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Employee's appeal of the decision of the the administrative law judge (ALJ) dismissing Employee's petition claiming entitlement to workers' compensation benefits, holding that the circuit court correctly dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.Employee petitioned the Department of Labor for a hearing on his claim that he was entitled to additional workers' compensation benefits. When Employee did not disclose and identify his experts by the date set in the scheduling order, Employer/Insurer moved for summary judgment. The ALJ granted the motion, concluding that Employee did not create a genuine issue of material fact in dispute precluding summary judgment. View "Hussein v. Showplace Wood Products Inc." on Justia Law
News America Marketing v. Schoon
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation approving Claimant's request for benefits, holding that there was no error.Claimant injured her shoulder and necker while working for Employer. While Employer and Insurer initially paid Claimant benefits, her claim for surgery and additional benefits was subsequently denied. Claimant filed a petition seeking a hearing on her claims. Thereafter, the Department approved Claimant's request for benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Claimant's work injury was a major contributing cause of her impairment and need for treatment; and (2) there was no error in the Department's findings concerning medical opinion testimony or causation. View "News America Marketing v. Schoon" on Justia Law
Ries v. JM Custom Homes, LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of a general contractor based on the general contractor's statutory immunity under S.D. Codified Laws 62-3-10, holding that the circuit court properly concluded that workers' compensation was the sole remedy available to Appellant.Plaintiff received a work-related injury at a construction site where his employer was a subcontractor. Plaintiff received workers' compensation benefits from his employer and then filed a negligence claim against the construction project's general contractor. The general contract subsequently amended its answer to assert statutory immunity under section 62-3-10. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the general contractor, concluding that the general contractor remained potentially liable for workers' compensation under S.D. Codified Laws 62-3-10 and, because of the exclusivity provisions of section 62-3-2, workers' compensation was Plaintiff's sole remedy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment for JM. View "Ries v. JM Custom Homes, LLC" on Justia Law
Althoff v. Pro-Tec Roofing, Inc.
In this tort suit brought against an employer by an employee the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court denying both parties' motions for summary judgment, holding that the court erred in denying the employer's motion for summary judgment.The employee in this case died after falling off the roof of a building he was working on for a subcontractor. After the employee's estate brought this tort action the employer moved for summary judgment, asserting that under S.D. Codified Laws 62-3-2, workers' compensation was the estate's exclusive remedy. In response, the estate argued that the exception to S.D. Codified Laws 52.-3-2 for intentional torts applied. The circuit court denied summary judgment for either party. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that there was no issue of material of fact in dispute on the question of whether the employer committed an intentional tort in this case. View "Althoff v. Pro-Tec Roofing, Inc." on Justia Law
Baker v. Rapid City Regional Hospital
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the determination of the Department of Labor and Regulation that Appellant was not permanently totally disabled, holding that Appellant failed to sustain his claim for permanent total disability.While he was employed by Rapid City Regional Hospital (RCRH) Appellant claimed he sustained two work-related head injuries that caused ongoing mental impairments. Appellant sought workers' compensation benefits from RCRH and its insurer, but the Department denied the claim, finding (1) Appellant failed to prove his work injuries were a major contributing cause of his mental impairments, and (2) Appellant failed to establish that he was permanently disabled. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Department and circuit court properly concluded that Appellant was not permanently totally disabled. View "Baker v. Rapid City Regional Hospital" on Justia Law
Peska Properties, Inc. v. Northern Rental Corp.
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court against Northern Rental Corporation and Steve Willis in this action stemming from the alleged breach of a lease agreement, holding that the circuit court erred in determining damages.In 2019, Northern and Willis defaulted on their lease agreement with Peska Properties, Inc. Peska Properties subsequently entered into a lease with Mills Aftermarket Accessories, Inc. to fill Willis/Northern's remaining lease term plus an additional term. Thereafter, Peska Properties brought this action against Willis/Northern requesting unpaid rent, repayment of Northern's build-out loan, payment of Mills's build-out costs, and attorney fees. The circuit court determined that Willis/Northern owed Peska Properties $68,730. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court's award was an error of law because it failed to meet the goal of a damage award. On remand, the court was directed to recalculate the build-out allowance damages. View "Peska Properties, Inc. v. Northern Rental Corp." on Justia Law
Dittman v. Rapid City School District
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Department of Labor of Regulation granting Employer/Insurer's motion for summary judgment regarding medical expenses Claimant incurred while being treated by Dr. Donald Corenman, holding that the circuit court erred in part.Employer and Insurer denied coverage for the medical expenses Claimant incurred by being treated for her back injury by Dr. Corenman. Claimant filed a petition for hearing with the Department, which granted summary judgment for Employer/Insurer as to these medical expenses. The circuit court affirmed. Claimant appealed, and Employer/Insurer filed a notice of review regarding an earlier Department ruling. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the Department erred in granting summary judgment denying compensation for Dr. Corenman's medical services. View "Dittman v. Rapid City School District" on Justia Law