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Gartner v. Temple

Supreme Court of South Dakota

October 29, 2014

BRADLEY GARTNER, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
MERLE TEMPLE, Defendant and Appellant

Considered on Briefs October 6, 2014.

Page 847

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 848

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT JACKSON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE HONORABLE PATRICIA J. DEVANEY, Judge.

HAVEN L. STUCK, Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun, PC, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

JAMES P. HURLEY Bangs, McCullen, Butler, Foye & Simmons, LLP Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

GILBERTSON, Chief Justice. KONENKAMP, ZINTER, SEVERSON, and WILBUR, Justices, concur.

OPINION

Page 849

GILBERTSON, Chief Justice

[¶1] Appellant, Merle Temple (" Temple" ), appeals the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court's judgment ordering the partition in kind of 3,374.9 acres of land located in Jackson County, South Dakota, owned with Appellee, Bradley Gartner, as tenants in common. Temple argues that the property cannot be partitioned without causing great prejudice, that the circuit court undervalued permanent structures on the land, and that the court should have reduced the amount of the ordered compensatory payment in favor of allocating additional land to Temple. We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶2] In 2007, Gartner and Doug Temple--Merle Temple's father--entered into a joint venture and purchased a ranch (the Ranch) for $788,000 from Barry and Rita Barber--Gartner's aunt and uncle. The Ranch consists of 3,374.9 acres located in Jackson County, South Dakota. Gartner held an undivided one-fourth interest in the Ranch, and Doug Temple held an undivided three-fourths interest. The Ranch includes pastures, hay land, and several permanent structures including a house, machine shop, livestock sheds, calving barn, and corrals. After the purchase of the Ranch, Gartner and his wife sold their previous residence and moved into the house on the Ranch. Although Doug Temple and Gartner each kept the same number of cows on the Ranch, Gartner and his wife served as the Ranch's caretakers. Gartner received half of Doug Temple's calves in exchange for his services.

[¶3] The White River divides the Ranch. Approximately 60% of the land is located to the north of the river and the remaining 40% is located to the south. The Ranch's headquarters--including the house in which Gartner and his wife reside--is located on the southern parcel. Both parcels are accessible by county roads, and the northern parcel is bordered on the north by a county road located approximately ten miles from Interstate 90. Electricity and water resources are available on both parcels, but the northern parcel offers no winter protections for cattle, restricting its use to fair-weather grazing.

[¶4] Doug Temple died in May 2009, at which time Temple inherited his three-fourths undivided interest in the Ranch. At that time, the Ranch was appraised at a value of $1,130,000. Thereafter, relations between Temple and Gartner deteriorated. In February 2012, Gartner brought an action for partition and subsequently asked the circuit court to appoint three referees. The court held an evidentiary hearing on June 19, 2012, and heard testimony from Temple, Gartner, and three expert witnesses--Lyndell Peterson and Bryce Nelson for Temple, and Ronald Ensz for Gartner. The court granted Gartner's motion and appointed Peterson, Nelson, and Ensz to prepare a Referee's Report (the Report).

[¶5] The referees met with the parties and their attorneys, inspected the property, viewed aerial photographs, examined the 2009 appraisal, and prepared the Report on June 25, 2013. The Report recommended dividing the Ranch into two parcels along the White River, with Temple receiving the northern parcel and Gartner receiving the southern parcel, including his home and accompanying structures. The Report resulted in an allocation of 920 acres to Gartner and 2,454.90 acres to Temple. Because Gartner only held a ...


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