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Stoebner v. Konrad

Supreme Court of South Dakota

June 20, 2018

MYRON and PAT STOEBNER, Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
THOMAS KONRAD, Defendant and Appellee.

          CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS APRIL 16, 2018

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT HUTCHINSON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE PATRICK T. SMITH Judge

          JOEL A. ARENDS of Sioux Falls, South Dakota Attorney for plaintiffs and appellants.

          ROBERT THOMAS KONRAD of Olinger, Lovald, McCahren, Van Camp, & Konrad, P.C. Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

          JENSEN, JUSTICE

         [¶1.] Myron and Pat Stoebner (the Stoebners) sued Thomas Konrad seeking a declaratory judgment and rescission of a contract for the sale of land and an incorporated lease. The Stoebners appeal the circuit court's order granting Konrad's motion to compel arbitration, dismissing the temporary injunction, and staying all proceedings until the parties engage in arbitration. Because no statutory authority exists to entertain the Stoebners' appeal as a matter of right, we dismiss for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

         Background

         [¶2.] The Stoebners and Konrad executed a contract for the sale of several parcels of real property owned by the Stoebners.[1] A lease agreement that granted the Stoebners a lifetime interest in a certain subset of the parcels of land sold was attached and incorporated by reference into the sales contract. On February 14, 2017, the Stoebners filed a complaint against Konrad alleging that Konrad intended to lease 70 acres of land to a third party that would infringe on some of the property leased to the Stoebners. The Stoebners also alleged that the lease is facially invalid and executed under a mistake of law because agricultural land cannot be leased for a period of time exceeding 20 years pursuant to SDCL 43-32-2. As a result, the Stoebners claim they are entitled to rescission of both the lease and sales contract.

         [¶3.] The Stoebners also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a request for an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be issued by the circuit court. On February 23, 2017, the circuit court issued the temporary restraining order against Konrad and a show cause order setting a hearing for preliminary injunction on February 27, 2017. On February 24, 2017, Konrad filed a demand for arbitration, a motion to stay all proceedings pending arbitration, and an objection to injunctive relief.

         [¶4.] At the hearing, the circuit court only considered the demand for arbitration, stating "it would seem logical, then, to take that question up first, as I believe it would be dispositive of other questions if arbitration were, in fact, ordered by this court." During the hearing, the circuit court heard arguments on the arbitration issue and determined that the Stoebners' claims were subject to arbitration. The request for a preliminary injunction was not argued or addressed by the circuit court at the hearing. The court entered an order on March 2, 2017, compelling arbitration on all the claims alleged in the Stoebners' complaint and the motion for injunctive relief; staying all proceedings until the parties have engaged in arbitration; and dismissing the "temporary injunction ordered in this case." [2]

          [¶5.] The Stoebners appeal the circuit court's order raising several issues for our review. Because all the issues raised are predicated on the circuit court's order compelling arbitration, we need only address whether that order is appealable as a matter of right under our statutes.[3]

         Analysis

         [¶6.] Whether presented by the parties or not, we are required to take notice of jurisdictional questions. Dale v. City of Sioux Falls, 2003 S.D. 124, ¶ 6, 670 N.W.2d 892, 894. "This Court has only 'such appellate jurisdiction as may be provided by the Legislature.'" State v. Stenstrom, 2017 S.D. 61, ¶ 15, 902 N.W.2d 787, 791 (quoting S.D. Const. art. 5, § 5). "The right to appeal is statutory and therefore does not exist in the absence of a statute permitting it." State v. Schwaller, 2006 S.D. 30, ¶ 5, 712 N.W.2d 869, 871 (quoting Dale, 2003 S.D. 124, ¶ 6, 670 N.W.2d at 894). "To determine whether the statutory grant of appellate jurisdiction has been met, the rules of statutory interpretation apply." Cable v. Union Cty. Bd. of Cty. Commn'rs, 2009 S.D. 59, ¶ 19, 769 N.W.2d 817, 825 (quoting Johnson v. Lebert Const., Inc., 2007 S.D. 74, ¶ 4, 736 N.W.2d 878, 879). [¶7.] The Stoebners initially argue that SDCL 15-26A-3(2) provides a right of appeal from the order compelling arbitration. SDCL 15-26A-3(2) provides that appeals may be taken from "[a]n order affecting a substantial right, made in any action, when such order in effect determines the action and prevents a judgment from which an appeal might be taken." While the Stoebners summarily claim that the order compelling arbitration affects a substantial right, they fail to address the remainder of the statute's text: "when such order in effect determines the action and prevents a judgment from which an appeal might be taken." SDCL 15-26A-3(2). The circuit court's order does not determine or resolve the merits of the Stoebners' claims regarding the sales contract or the lease agreement. We have stated that "[t]o be final, a judgment must 'finally and completely adjudicate all of the issues of fact and law involved in the case.'" Midcom, Inc. v. Oehlerking, 2006 S.D. 87, ¶ 11, 722 N.W.2d 722, 725 (quoting Griffin v. Dwyer, 88 S.D. 357, 358, 220 N.W.2d 1, 2 (1974)). Moreover, SDCL 21-25A-35 affords a right of appeal from an order or judgment entered by the circuit court following the completion of the arbitration proceedings.

         [¶8.] Under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), the United States Supreme Court has similarly defined a final decision as one that "ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing more for the court to do but execute the judgment." Green Tree Fin. Corp.-Alabama v. Randolph, 531 U.S. 79, 86, 121 S.Ct. 513, 519, 148 L.Ed.2d 373 (2000) (quoting Digital Equip. Corp. v. Desktop Direct, Inc.,511 U.S. 863, 867, 114 S.Ct. 1992, 1995, 128 L.Ed.2d 842 (1994)). The Court in Green Tree held that an order compelling arbitration and dismissing all claims is considered final and appealable. Id. at 89, 121 S.Ct. at 521. Here, because the circuit court's order compelling arbitration did ...


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