859 N.W.2d 618 (S.D. 2015), #27145, Peters v. Great Western Bank, Inc.

Docket Nº:#27145
Citation:859 N.W.2d 618, 2015 SD 4
Opinion Judge:GILBERTSON, Chief Justice
Party Name:LAURA PETERS, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. GREAT WESTERN BANK, INC., Defendant and Appellee
Attorney:TODD A. SCHWEIGER, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorney for plaintiff and appellant. MICHAEL V. WHEELER, DeMersseman Jensen Tellinghuisen, Stanton & Huffman, LLP, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellee.
Judge Panel:GILBERTSON, Chief Justice. ZINTER, SEVERSON, WILBUR, Justices and KONENKAMP, Retired Justice, concur. KERN, Justice, not having been a member of the Court at the time this action was assigned to the Court, did not participate. ZINTER, SEVERSON, WILBUR, Justices and KONENKAMP, Retired Justice, con...
Case Date:January 28, 2015
Court:Supreme Court of South Dakota
 
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Page 618

859 N.W.2d 618 (S.D. 2015)

2015 SD 4

LAURA PETERS, Plaintiff and Appellant,

v.

GREAT WESTERN BANK, INC., Defendant and Appellee

#27145

Supreme Court of South Dakota

January 28, 2015

Considered on Briefs: January 12, 2015.

Page 619

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT PENNINGTON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE HONORABLE ROBERT GUSINSKY, Judge.

Affirmed.

TODD A. SCHWEIGER, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorney for plaintiff and appellant.

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

GILBERTSON, Chief Justice. ZINTER, SEVERSON, WILBUR, Justices and KONENKAMP, Retired Justice, concur. KERN, Justice, not having been a member of the Court at the time this action was assigned to the Court, did not participate.

OPINION

Page 620

GILBERTSON, Chief Justice

[¶1] Laura Peters appeals the circuit court's denial of her motion to compel discovery on Great Western Bank (the Bank), as well as the court's granting of summary judgment in favor of the Bank. She asserts that the Bank was required to join her as a defendant in two foreclosure actions and that additional time for discovery was necessary for her to answer the Bank's motion for summary judgment. We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶2] In March 2003, Peters obtained a default judgment against Barker & Little, Inc. (BLI)--a South Dakota corporation.1 BLI was a general partner in Barker & Little Limited Partnership III (BLLP). Doug Hamilton owned or operated BLI and BLLP, as well as a number of other entities including Barker & Little Manufactured Homes, Inc. (BLMHI). BLI was the operating entity for the management of rental properties, including property titled to BLLP. The Bank extended a line of credit to BLI secured, in part, by mobile homes and rent-to-own contracts owned by BLMHI.

[¶3] In 2008, the Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings against BLLP and BLMHI. In its action against BLLP, the Bank sought to foreclose on a real estate mortgage; against BLMHI, the Bank sought to recover the mobile homes and rent-to-own contracts used as collateral on the line of credit extended to BLI. Because of BLI's relationship with both entities, the Bank named BLI as a codefendant in each action. The Bank and Hamilton privately negotiated a settlement agreement. Pursuant to that agreement, the various Hamilton-owned entities transferred real and personal property to the Bank. The Bank did not join Peters as a defendant or otherwise notify her of these foreclosure actions.

[¶4] Upon learning of the Bank's foreclosure actions involving BLI, Peters initiated this action against the Bank, alleging fraud, conversion, deceit, and unjust enrichment. Peters made a motion to compel discovery, and the Bank responded with a motion for summary judgment. The circuit court granted the Bank's motion and denied Peters's motion as moot. Peters appeals, raising two issues:

1. Whether the Bank was required to join Peters as a defendant in its foreclosure actions against BLI, BLLP, and BLMHI.

2. Whether the circuit court should have granted Peters additional time for discovery prior to ruling on the Page 621

Bank's motion for summary judgment.

Standard of Review

[¶5] Our standard of review on summary judgment is as follows:

In reviewing a grant or a denial of summary judgment under SDCL 15-6-56(c), we must determine whether the moving party demonstrated the absence of any genuine issue of material fact and showed entitlement to judgment on the merits as a matter of law. The evidence must be viewed most favorably to the nonmoving party and reasonable doubts should be resolved against the moving party. The nonmoving party, however, must present specific facts showing that a genuine, material issue for trial exists. Our task on appeal is to determine only whether a genuine issue of material fact exists and whether the law was correctly applied. If there exists any basis which supports the ruling of the trial court, affirmance of a summary judgment is proper.

Saathoff v. Kuhlman, 2009 S.D. 17, ¶ 11, 763 N.W.2d 800, 804 (quoting Pellegrino v. Loen, 2007 S.D. 129, ¶ 13, 743 N.W.2d 140, 143). We review " [a] circuit court's refusal to grant additional discovery prior to awarding summary judgment . . . for abuse of discretion." Stern Oil Co. v. Border States Paving, Inc., 2014 S.D. 28, ¶ 24, 848 N.W.2d 273, 281.

Analysis and Decision

[¶6] Peters alleges the Bank committed conversion and was unjustly enriched by obtaining property to which she had a superior claim. She also alleges that the Bank committed fraud and deceit by failing to name her as a defendant. However, the only persons that a foreclosure plaintiff must join as a defendant, under South Dakota law, are those who have " an interest in, or lien on, the mortgaged property as of the date of filing the action[.]" SDCL 21-49-15. Thus, all of Peters's causes of action are premised on the assertion that Peters had a claim to the foreclosure property; consequently, all of Peters's causes of action turn on the same question: Whether Peters had an interest in, or lien on, property included in the Bank's foreclosure actions against BLI, BLLP, and BLMHI as of the date the Bank filed those actions.

[¶7] Peters argues that her status as a judgment creditor of BLI gave her an " interest" --within the meaning of SDCL 21-49-15--in the foreclosure property because that property could have been sold to satisfy her judgment. As noted above, South Dakota law requires " [a]ll persons having an interest in, or lien on, the mortgaged property as of the date of filing the action . . . be named as defendants in the action." SDCL 21-49-15. We have not previously construed the meaning of " interest" as it appears in SDCL 21-49-15. Therefore we apply our usual approach to statutory construction.

The purpose of statutory construction is to discover the true intention of the law, which is to be ascertained primarily from the language expressed in the statute. The intent of a statute is determined from what the Legislature said, rather than what the courts think it should...

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