Fiechuk v. Wilson Trailer Co., Inc., No. 25003.

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtKonenkamp
Citation769 N.W.2d 843,2009 SD 62
PartiesShawna M. FIECHUK, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. WILSON TRAILER COMPANY, INC., Defendant and Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 25003.
Decision Date15 July 2009
769 N.W.2d 843
2009 SD 62
Shawna M. FIECHUK, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
WILSON TRAILER COMPANY, INC., Defendant and Appellee.
No. 25003.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
Considered on Briefs April 27, 2009.
Decided July 15, 2009.

[769 N.W.2d 844]

Shawna M. Fiechuk, Yankton, South Dakota, Pro se appellant.

David D. Knoff of Kennedy, Rokahr, Pier & Knoff, LLP, Yankton, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellee.

KONENKAMP, Justice.


[¶ 1.] An employee quit her job and filed a claim against her employer with the Department of Labor for sexual discrimination and retaliation. After an investigation, the Department found probable cause to support the employee's retaliation claim. The employee chose to bring suit in circuit court against the employer. Before the trial, the circuit court granted the employer's motion to prevent the employee from testifying about the Department's probable cause finding. During the trial, when the employer itself broached the subject of complaining to the Department, the employee sought to offer the Department's findings. The request was denied. On appeal, the employee asserts that the court abused its discretion when it denied her offer of proof. We affirm.

Background

[¶ 2.] Shawna Fiechuk began working for Wilson Trailer Company in March 2002. She frequently complained to her supervisor and union representative about sexually harassing conduct by her fellow employees. On February 10, 2005, she filed a complaint for sexual harassment and retaliation against the company with the South Dakota Department of Labor. After considering Fiechuk's allegations and certain written submissions from the company, the Department found no probable cause to support her sexual harassment claim. But it did find probable cause to believe that the company violated the South Dakota Human Relations Act with respect to Fiechuk's retaliation charge. See SDCL ch. 20-13. The Department issued a proposed conciliation plan.

769 N.W.2d 845

[¶ 3.] Fiechuk did not appeal the Department's finding of no probable cause on her sexual harassment claim. In regard to her retaliation claim, she brought suit against the company in circuit court in September 2006. She alleged that the company violated SDCL 20-13-10 based on sexual harassment, retaliation, and infliction of emotional distress. The company moved for summary judgment asserting that the court did not have jurisdiction to consider Fiechuk's sexual harassment claim because she did not appeal the Department's finding of no probable cause. The company also requested summary disposition of Fiechuk's retaliation claim asserting that because Fiechuk did not make her complaint to the Department until February 10, 2005, any actions of the company before that date did not support retaliation. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the company on the sexual harassment claim, holding that Fiechuk failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. The court denied summary judgment on Fiechuk's retaliation claim, declaring that there was a genuine issue of fact on whether the actions of the company before February 10, 2005, were part of an ongoing practice or pattern of discrimination.

[¶ 4.] A jury trial was held in July 2008. Before trial, the company moved in limine to prevent Fiechuk from, among other things, "testifying to or presenting evidence related to any findings of fact and conclusions of law of the Human Rights Commission [Department] in the underlying administrative process which is the basis of this suit except for impeachment purposes." Fiechuk resisted the motion on the ground that the administrative proceedings were relevant to show the jury the avenue she took as a result of the company's retaliation. The court granted the company's motion, holding that Fiechuk could not testify about administrative proceedings. But the court cautioned counsel for the company that it could not argue or imply that Fiechuk had not complied with administrative procedures for making a complaint.

[¶ 5.] During Fiechuk's cross-examination, the company's attorney asked her whether she felt retaliated against in 2003, when she received a pink slip. Fiechuk answered affirmatively. In response, counsel asked Fiechuk whether she made a complaint with the Department. She replied that she went to her union. After being asked the same question again, Fiechuk said that she did not make a complaint with the Department at that time. At the conclusion of Fiechuk's cross-examination, counsel for Fiechuk made an offer of...

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4 practice notes
  • Ferebee v. Hobart, No. 24918.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • November 24, 2009
    ...2007. This Court reviews a decision to admit or deny evidence under the abuse of discretion standard. Fiechuk v. Wilson Trailer Co., Inc., 2009 SD 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846. This applies as well to rulings on motions in limine. See Dahlin v. Holmquist, 235 Mont. 17, 766 P.2d 239, 241 (19......
  • Jas Enters., Inc. v. BBS Enters., Inc., Nos. 26414
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 17, 2013
    ...standard.” Ferebee v. Hobart, 2009 S.D. 102, ¶ 12, 776 N.W.2d 58, 62 (citing Fiechuk v. Wilson Trailer Co., Inc., 2009 S.D. 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846). “This applies as well to rulings on motions in limine.” Id. (citing Dahlin v. Holmquist, 235 Mont. 17, 766 P.2d 239, 241 (1988); Gray v.......
  • DFA DAIRY FINANCING v. Lawson Special Trust, No. 25344.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • April 21, 2010
    ...¶ 17. A trial court's refusal to admit evidence is reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard. Fiechuk v. Wilson Trailer Co., Inc., 2009 SD 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846 (citing Steffen v. Schwan's Sales Enter., Inc., 2006 SD 41, ¶ 19, 713 N.W.2d 614, 621). "`An abuse of discretion refe......
  • Haanen v. Haanen, No. 25044.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 15, 2009
    ...her own needs on a monthly basis. Consequently, the trial court's manner of determining the need for alimony and setting the amount is 769 N.W.2d 843 in error. Therefore, we remand for the trial court to reconsider the alimony award based on Amy's needs and standard of living and Jeff's abi......
4 cases
  • Ferebee v. Hobart, No. 24918.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • November 24, 2009
    ...2007. This Court reviews a decision to admit or deny evidence under the abuse of discretion standard. Fiechuk v. Wilson Trailer Co., Inc., 2009 SD 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846. This applies as well to rulings on motions in limine. See Dahlin v. Holmquist, 235 Mont. 17, 766 P.2d 239, 241 (19......
  • Jas Enters., Inc. v. BBS Enters., Inc., Nos. 26414
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 17, 2013
    ...standard.” Ferebee v. Hobart, 2009 S.D. 102, ¶ 12, 776 N.W.2d 58, 62 (citing Fiechuk v. Wilson Trailer Co., Inc., 2009 S.D. 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846). “This applies as well to rulings on motions in limine.” Id. (citing Dahlin v. Holmquist, 235 Mont. 17, 766 P.2d 239, 241 (1988); Gray v.......
  • DFA DAIRY FINANCING v. Lawson Special Trust, No. 25344.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • April 21, 2010
    ...¶ 17. A trial court's refusal to admit evidence is reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard. Fiechuk v. Wilson Trailer Co., Inc., 2009 SD 62, ¶ 8, 769 N.W.2d 843, 846 (citing Steffen v. Schwan's Sales Enter., Inc., 2006 SD 41, ¶ 19, 713 N.W.2d 614, 621). "`An abuse of discretion refe......
  • Haanen v. Haanen, No. 25044.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 15, 2009
    ...her own needs on a monthly basis. Consequently, the trial court's manner of determining the need for alimony and setting the amount is 769 N.W.2d 843 in error. Therefore, we remand for the trial court to reconsider the alimony award based on Amy's needs and standard of living and Jeff's abi......

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