Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Harlan v. Frawley Ranches PUD Homeowners Association, Inc.

Supreme Court of South Dakota

September 13, 2017

ROBERT HARLAN & GENEIEVE HARLAN, Plaintiffs and Appellants,

          CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS MAY 30, 2017


          DYLAN A. WILDE of Wilde & Hunt, Prof. LLC Spearfish, South Dakota Attorneys for appellants.

          ROGER A. TELLINGHUISEN MICHAEL V. WHEELER of DeMersseman, Jensen Tellinghuisen & Huffman, LLP Rapid City, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and appellee.


          SEVERSON, Justice.

         [¶1.] Robert and Geneieve Harlan are landowners whose land is subject to a "declaration of covenants, conditions, restrictions, and reservations for land[.]" On September 20, 2013, the Frawley Ranches Planned Unit Development Homeowners Association, Inc. (HOA) filed a certificate of renewal and amendment to the covenant with the Lawrence County Register of Deeds. The Harlans brought this action seeking declaratory judgment declaring the certificate invalid because it was alleged to have been filed in violation of the requirements established by the covenant. They also brought a claim to quiet title to their property. After a trial to the court, the circuit court denied the Harlans' claims. The Harlans appeal. We affirm in part and reverse in part.


         [¶2.] The Harlans are joint tenants of real property located in a planned unit development and conveyed to them by Frawley Ranch, Inc. Their deed is subject to "The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions and Reservations for Land Owned or Possessed or Held by Frawley Ranch, Inc." The Declaration of Covenants was recorded on September 29, 1993. The Declaration of Covenants provided that all record owners, excluding lessees and security interest holders, of the lots or parcels described within the document are members of the HOA. Among other powers, the HOA is granted the "power to administer and enforce all provisions" of the Declaration of Covenants. According to its terms, the Declaration of Covenants is initially in "full force and effect for a term of twenty (20) years" and it is:

automatically extended for successive periods of twenty (20) years, unless there is an affirmative vote to terminate th[e] Declaration by the then members of the Association casting 90% of the total votes cast at an election held for such purpose within six (6) months prior to the expiration of the initial period hereof or any extension.

         [¶3.] Each member of the HOA is entitled to one vote for each lot in which they hold the interest required for membership. In the case of joint ownership of a parcel, such as the Harlans', only one vote per individual lot or parcel is allowed. At the time relevant to this case, there were 35 voting interests within the development; five of those interests belonged to Frawley Ranch, Inc.

         [¶4.] At an annual HOA meeting on June 5, 2013, the HOA discussed amending the Declaration of Covenants so that it would automatically extend for successive periods of five years rather than successive periods of twenty years. It was agreed at the HOA meeting that the vote to amend would be conducted by email. On August 29, 2013, the HOA's secretary and board member, Todd Knutson, emailed the members with a proposed covenant attached. It instructed the members that "everyone must vote to either approve or reject" the new covenant and that they must reply to the email with their vote. It explained that failure to reply to the email would be considered a "NO vote." After obtaining votes by the members, the HOA board of directors determined that 90% of the members voted in favor of the amendment. On September 20, 2013, it recorded an amendment extending the Declaration of Covenants for five years. In response, the Harlans commenced this action. They alleged that the election to amend the Declaration of Covenants is required to occur at either the annual meeting of the members or a special meeting of the members and that there was not the requisite 90% of interests voting in favor of the amendment.

         [¶5.] After a court trial on August 22-23, 2016, the circuit court denied the Harlans' claims for declaratory judgment and quiet title. It issued findings of fact and conclusions of law. It determined that the Declaration of Covenants did not require that an election for amending the Declaration of Covenants be held at a meeting of the members or in person and therefore an email vote was proper. In its findings of fact 24 and 25, the court found:

24. There were a total of 35 votes.
25. There were 32 'yes' votes and three 'no' votes. The affirmative vote percentage in favor of the amendment was 91.43%.

         Lastly, it determined that Frawley Ranches had proven the affirmative defenses of waiver, laches, and estoppel. The Harlans appeal to this Court raising three issues. They contend the circuit court erred by determining: (1) that the email vote was a valid and binding vote; (2) that the affirmative defenses of ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.