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L & L Partnership v. Rock Creek Farms

Supreme Court of South Dakota

February 19, 2014

L & L PARTNERSHIP a/k/a Lutz and Laidlaw Partnership a/k/a Lutz-Laidlaw Partnership, Marvin Lutz, General Partner, Plaintiffs,
v.
ROCK CREEK FARMS, Defendant and Appellant, and Michael Arnoldy; Ann Arnoldy, Defendants and Appellees, and David M. Finneman; Connie S. Finneman; Tom J. Wipf; Johnny Jay Wipf d/b/a Wipf Farms; Joann Wipf; Rabo Agrifinance, Inc. f/k/a AG Services of America, Inc. and Rabo Agservices, Inc.; Sheehan Mack Sales and Equipment, Inc.; Farm Capital Company, LLC., Daniel R. Mahoney; Portfolio Recovery Associates, PRA III LLC; Pfister Hybrid Corn Co.; Kaup Seed & Fertilizer, Inc.; Joyce M. Wolken; Charles W. Wolken; Stan Anderson; Dennis Anderson; Kent Kjerstad; U.S. Bancorp Equipment Finance, Inc.; Kenco Inc. d/b/a Warne Chemical & Equipment Company; Doug Kroeplin Ag Services, Inc.; Credico, Inc. d/b/a Credit Collections Bureau; Scot D. Eisenbraun; Melody Eisenbraun; Bart Cheney; Hal Oberlander; Kei Oberlander; Ray S. Olsen; Patrick X. Trask; Rose Mary Trask; Pennington County, South Dakota; Meade County, South Dakota; and The United States of America, Defendants. L & L Partnership a/k/a Lutz and Laidlaw Partnership a/k/a Lutz-Laidlaw Partnership, Marvin Lutz, General Partner, Plaintiffs,
v.
David M. Finneman and Connie S. Finneman, Defendants and Appellants, and Michael Arnoldy; Ann Arnoldy, Defendants and Appellees, and Rock Creek Farms, Successors in Interest to David M. Finneman and Connie S. Finneman; Tom J. Wipf; Johnny Jay Wipf d/b/a Wipf Farms; Joann Wipf; Rabo Agrifinance, Inc. f/k/a AG Services of America, Inc. and Rabo Agservices, Inc.; Sheehan Mack Sales and Equipment, Inc.; Farm Capital Company, LLC., Daniel R. Mahoney; Portfolio Recovery Associates, PRA III LLC; Pfister Hybrid Corn Co.; Kaup Seed & Fertilizer, Inc.; Joyce M. Wolken; Charles W. Wolken; Stan Anderson; Dennis Anderson; Kent Kjerstad; U.S. Bancorp Equipment Finance, Inc.; Kenco Inc. d/b/a Warne Chemical & Equipment Company; Doug Kroeplin AG Services, Inc.; Credico, Inc. d/b/a Credit Collections Bureau; Scot D. Eisenbraun; Melody Eisenbraun; Bart Cheney; Hal Oberlander; Kei Oberlander; Ray S. Olsen; Patrick X. Trask; Rose Mary Trask; Pennington County, South Dakota; Meade County, South Dakota; and The United States of America, Defendants.

Argued Jan. 14, 2014.

Page 698

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 699

Steven W. Sanford, Cadwell, Sanford, Deibert & Garry, LLP, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Brian Utzman, Smoot & Utzman, PC, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

Robert R. Schaub, Sundall, Schaub & Fox, PC, Chamberlain, South Dakota and Vince M. Roche, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, LLP, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendants and appellees.

James P. Hurley, Bangs, McCullen, Butler, Foye & Simmons, LLP, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendants and appellants.

Robert R. Schaub, Sundall, Schaub & Fox, PC, Chamberlain, South Dakota and Vince M. Roche, Elizabeth S. Hertz, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, LLP, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendants and appellees.

SEVERSON, Justice.

[¶ 1.] David and Connie Finneman (Finnemans) (Appeal No. 26374) and Rock Creek Farms Partnership (RCF) (Appeal No. 26373), collectively referred to as Appellants, appeal the circuit court's decision granting Ann Arnoldy (Arnoldy) equitable ownership of the real estate outlined in two contracts for deed. We affirm.[1]

Page 700

Background

[¶ 2.] This appeal is part of a continuing dispute between Appellants and Arnoldy concerning the ownership of 16,700 acres of farmland in Pennington and Meade Counties.[2] The Finnemans owned 16,700 acres of land. Of those acres, 7,500 were owned in fee simple and 9,200 were purchased via contract for deed from L & L Partnership (L & L). The first contract for deed, dated April 29, 1996, was for 6,950 acres; the second, dated October 13, 1999, was for 2,250 acres. Finnemans encumbered their interest in all the land except 200 acres of the contracts for deed property with two mortgages, one to Rabo Agrifinance, Inc. (Rabo), and an inferior mortgage to FarmPro Services, Inc. (FarmPro). In May 2007, Finnemans used a quit claim deed to transfer their interests in all the property to RCF, which included Finnemans and other outside investors as partners.[3] While L & L's foreclosure on the contracts for deed is the subject of this appeal, the two mortgages of Rabo and FarmPro have been the subject of four previous appeals to this Court.[4]

[¶ 3.] FarmPro foreclosed on its mortgage in 2000 and received a final judgment in 2003.[5] A sheriff's sale was held in 2006. In 2007, Michael Arnoldy and Ann Arnoldy, brother and sister, purchased a number of judgments and redeemed the land as creditors. A Finneman associate, Daniel Mahoney, redeemed the land from Michael Arnoldy under two judgments the Arnoldys believed were fraudulent. Ann Arnoldy then redeemed from Mahoney. RCF and Finnemans then purported to exercise the owner's right of redemption. In October 2008, Arnoldys filed a declaratory judgment action based on the alleged fraud surrounding the Mahoney redemption. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Arnoldys in January 2010. RCF and Finnemans appealed to this Court in Arnoldy I, 2010 SD 89, 791 N.W.2d 645.

[¶ 4.] While Arnoldy I was pending in circuit court, Rabo foreclosed on its mortgage in July 2009. In its pleadings, Rabo asserted that Finnemans had waived the owner's right of redemption in a previous modification to the loan. Rabo moved for judgment on the pleadings, which Judge Delaney granted. While Judge Delaney's January 15, 2010 order stated that Rabo's motion for judgment on the pleadings would be granted in all respects, the ...


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