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Richard T. Orr v. Sheldon Cook

June 29, 2011

RICHARD T. ORR,
PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE,
v.
SHELDON COOK,
DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT YANKTON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA HONORABLE ARTHUR L. RUSCH Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbertson, Chief Justice

CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON MAY 23, 2011

[¶1.] For several years, the parties had a partnership agreement to conduct a cow-calf operation. They sold the cows and calves in the spring of 2007. The parties disagreed on the disbursement of the proceeds. The trial court determined the value of the born and unborn calves based on a variation of an expert's testimony. Cook challenges the trial court's valuation and other reimbursements on appeal. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

FACTS

[¶2.] Richard Orr and Sheldon Cook orally formed a partnership in 2002 to conduct a cow-calf operation. Under the arrangement, Cook would purchase cows and Orr would provide an area to keep them. Orr was also responsible for the cows' care, including feeding and calving. After Cook sold the calves, 60% of the gross proceeds were paid to Orr and 40% to Cook. Orr paid 60% of post-weaning feed and veterinarian bills for the calves and Cook paid 40%. Cook was solely responsible for all veterinarian bills for any cows or bulls. The partnership operated under this arrangement until the spring of 2007.

[¶3.] On March 29, 2007, Cook sold 240 cows, including 67 cow-calf pairs, 40 "open" or not-pregnant cows, 132 pregnant cows, and one sick calf.*fn1 Cook received $230,935.00 from the sale. Orr sued Cook, disputing the reimbursement amount Cook owed him from that sale and for the cost of feeding and caring for the cows during the winter of 2007. Before trial, the parties entered into a stipulation, leaving only two issues remaining for trial: 1) the value of the calves, born and unborn; and 2) the amount of reimbursement Cook owed Orr for feed and veterinarian costs for the calves.

[¶4.] At trial, experts for both Cook and Orr testified regarding the valuation of the livestock sold, and, consequently, the amount of reimbursement Cook owed Orr. Evidence was also presented regarding the cost of feed and veterinarian bills. The trial court awarded Orr $41,614.56. After judgment was entered, Orr moved for prejudgment interest and costs. The trial court denied Orr's request because it was made for the first time in his Application for Taxation of Disbursements.

[¶5.] On appeal, the issues presented are:

1. Whether the trial court was clearly erroneous in determining the value of the calves.

2. Whether the trial court was clearly erroneous in determining the amount of reimbursement Cook owed Orr for feed and veterinarian costs.

By notice of review, Orr challenges:

3. Whether the trial court erred in denying prejudgment interest and costs.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶6.] Whether the trial court used the correct method for determining the value of property is a question of law reviewed de novo. In re Dissolution of Midnight Star Enters., L.P., 2006 S.D. 98, ¶ 7, 724 N.W.2d 334, 336. However, we review the trial ...


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