Editor's note: Keep it Civil is an occasional series featuring a rundown of noteworthy civil lawsuits and opinions in state and federal court in and around western South Dakota.
State Supreme Court
On Oct. 4, Justice Steven Zinter ruled that a Pennington County Sheriff's captain did not violate a Rapid City man's Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures in a January 2017 stop.
Seven hours after a murder at the South Dakota Rose Inn on the night of Jan. 23, Capt. Tony Harrison spotted a man in a Carhartt jacket that matched the suspect filmed in a security camera's footage and stopped the man, Jeremy Little, who produced a bloody knife from his pocket.
Although Little's other clothing did not match Harrison's initial observation, the officer claimed a "hunch" led him to suspect Little. Zinter wrote Harrison was within his rights, especially given an "unapprehended murder suspect" could pose a serious threat to public safety.
"It is well settled that law enforcement officers (may) draw on their own experience and specialized training to make inferences from and deductions about the cumulative information available to them that 'might well elude an untrained person,'" Zinter wrote, quoting previous case law.
U.S. District Court
On Sept. 19, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Jeffrey Viken in Rapid City dismissed with prejudice Leona Van Dusseldorp's lawsuit against Continental Casualty Company and Long Term Care Group Inc.
The plaintiff had sued after the insurance company refused to reimburse fees paid to a living center because long-term care was not, under South Dakota Department of Health regulations, considered an assisted-living facility. The plaintiff had argued the state's guidelines giving authority to health services were unclear, but Viken argued this rationale "must be rejected."
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"Plaintiff's interpretation would create an absurdity," Viken wrote.
State Circuit Court
On Sept. 25, K&S LLC, which does business as Blake's Trailer Sales and Repairs in Rapid City, sued Rapid Pressure Washing for breaking a purchase agreement for a $4,800 trailer.
According to the documents filed by the plaintiff in the 7th Circuit Court, Rapid Pressure Washing paid $2,500 for the trailer and would make up the rest of the payment by pressure washing and cleaning trailers owned by Blake's. Plaintiff argued that this never happened.
"Defendant only provided cleaning services for a total of three of Plaintiff's trailers," argues the pleading document, specifying that washing and cleaning a trailer costs no more than $100.
In a response filed with the court, Rapid Pressure Wash denied the claim and stated, "We look forward to clearing this matter in court."
U.S. District Court
Jennifer Young, a Box Elder resident, sued Jerry Craig, of Forest City, Iowa, in U.S. District Court in South Dakota's western division on Wednesday for a car crash that has left her permanently injured.
On Sept. 2, 2016, according to her pleading, Young drove her vehicle eastbound on Highway 34 behind Craig, when he abruptly made an illegal U-turn. Young's vehicle collided with the back of Craig's vehicle, causing her "temporary and permanent physical injuries," property damage, and a loss of "enjoyment of life." A highway patrol officer issued a citation to Craig for violating the state's U-turn law.