Krsnak v. S.D. Dep't of Env't & Natural Resources, No. 26367.

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtWILBUR
Citation2012 S.D. 89,824 N.W.2d 429
Decision Date12 December 2012
Docket NumberNo. 26367.
PartiesJimmy KRSNAK and Linda L. Krsnak, Appellants, v. SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, Steven M. Pirner, Department Secretary and Staff, In Their Official Capacities, Appellees.

824 N.W.2d 429
2012 S.D. 89

Jimmy KRSNAK and Linda L. Krsnak, Appellants,
v.
SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, Steven M. Pirner, Department Secretary and Staff, In Their Official Capacities, Appellees.

No. 26367.

Supreme Court of South Dakota.

Argued Nov. 7, 2012.
Decided Dec. 12, 2012.


[824 N.W.2d 432]


Jay M. Leibel of Issenhuth & Leibel, LLP, Madison, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellants.

Marty J. Jackley, Attorney General, Patricia Archer, Assistant Attorney General, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellees.


WILBUR, Justice.

[¶ 1.] The Krsnaks sought a writ of mandamus to stay or rescind the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) approval of the plans and specifications for the Brant Lake Sanitary District project. The Krsnaks claim DENR did not meet the requirements contained in statutes, administrative rules, and internal manuals. The trial court denied the writ of mandamus. The Krsnaks appeal. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

[¶ 2.] The Brant Lake Sanitary District was organized under SDCL chapter 34A–5 to provide a wastewater system for 235 residents and businesses near Brant Lake in Lake County, South Dakota. On March 26, 2012, DENR approved plans and specifications for the Brant Lake Sanitary District's wastewater treatment facility (Brant Lake facility) in accordance with SDCL 34A–2–27(1). Residents and businesses near Brant Lake currently utilize private septic systems to handle their wastewater disposal. The Brant Lake facility plans propose to join and expand the Chester Sanitary District's existing wastewater disposal system.

[¶ 3.] Chester's current treatment system consists of two cells or lagoons covering approximately eight acres. In order to accommodate the increased flow of wastewater from Brant Lake, the plans include the construction of an additional treatment lagoon, which will tie into the existing two-cell lagoon system. Further, the plans include the construction of additional piping to transport wastewater to the treatment lagoons.

[¶ 4.] Chester's existing wastewater disposal system operates under a surface water discharge permit that was previously

[824 N.W.2d 433]

issued by DENR under SDCL 34A–2–36. Currently, the water discharge from the Chester facility flows into Skunk Creek, a tributary of the Big Sioux River. Once the Brant Lake facility is completed, discharge will continue to flow into Skunk Creek. Because the Brant Lake facility is an add-on to the Chester facility, there are no pending applications for any state-issued environmental permits by the Brant Lake Sanitary District. However, when the Chester surface water discharge permit comes up for renewal, the application permit will include the Chester and Brant Lake facility in its entirety.

[¶ 5.] Jimmy and Linda Krsnak reside in Lake County where they operate a vegetable farm called “Linda's Gardens.” The Krsnaks' home and business are near the proposed lagoon. The Krsnaks assert that the raw sewage from the Brant Lake and Chester facility will enter the lagoon closest to the Krsnaks' home, potable well, and business. The Krsnaks estimate that their well is approximately 1000 feet from the lagoon and that their home is approximately 1090 feet from the lagoon. Water from the Krsnaks' well is consumed by the Krsnaks and their employees, is used for the irrigation of vegetable fields, and is used to clean and hydrate vegetables prior to sale. Accordingly, the Krsnaks have opposed both the Chester and Brant Lake facilities.

[¶ 6.] After DENR approved the plans for the Brant Lake facility, the Krsnaks filed an application for a writ of mandamus with the trial court on April 23, 2012. The application sought a writ ordering DENR to “stay the approval of the [Brant Lake Sanitary District] project until all requirements of the [internal manuals], administrative rules and law have been met.” On the same day, the trial court entered an alternative writ of mandamus directing DENR to show cause why a permanent writ of mandamus should not issue. On May 2, 2012, the trial court filed an amended alternative writ of mandamus ordering the parties to appear on May 14, 2012, for a hearing on DENR's anticipated motion to quash.

[¶ 7.] On May 4, 2012, DENR filed a motion to quash the amended alternative writ of mandamus. The trial court held a hearing on May 14, 2012, and issued a bench decision denying the Krsnaks' request for mandamus relief. The Krsnaks appeal on the following issue: Whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying the writ of mandamus requiring DENR to comply with applicable South Dakota statutes, administrative rules, and DENR internal guidelines in approving the plans and specifications for the Brant Lake facility.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶ 8.] “This Court reviews the decision to grant or deny a writ of mandamus under an abuse of discretion standard.” Grant Cnty. Concerned Citizens v. Grant Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2011 S.D. 5, ¶ 6, 794 N.W.2d 462, 464 (citing Vitek v. Bon Homme Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2002 S.D. 45, ¶ 5, 644 N.W.2d 231, 233). “An abuse of discretion refers to a discretion exercised to an end or purpose not justified by, and clearly against reason and evidence.” Argus Leader v. Hagen, 2007 S.D. 96, ¶ 7, 739 N.W.2d 475, 478 (quoting Schafer v. Deuel Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2006 S.D. 106, ¶ 4, 725 N.W.2d 241, 243). Further, “[s]tatutory interpretation and application are questions of law that we review de novo.” State v. Goulding, 2011 S.D. 25, ¶ 5, 799 N.W.2d 412, 414.

ANALYSIS AND DECISION

[¶ 9.] South Dakota law allows a trial court to issue a writ of mandamus where no “plain, speedy, and adequate

[824 N.W.2d 434]

remedy [exists] in the ordinary course of law.” SDCL 21–29–1,1 –2. “A writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy that will issue only when the duty to act is clear.” Woodruff v. Bd. of Comm'rs for Hand Cnty., 2007 S.D. 113, ¶ 3, 741 N.W.2d 746, 747 (quoting Baker v. Atkinson, 2001 S.D. 49, ¶ 16, 625 N.W.2d 265, 271);see also Atkinson v. City of Pierre, 2005 S.D. 114, ¶ 26, 706 N.W.2d 791, 799 (stating that “[m]andamus can only issue when the duty to act is unequivocal”). A writ of mandamus “commands the fulfillment of an existing legal duty, but creates no duty itself, and” does not act “upon ... doubtful or unsettled law.” Woodruff, 2007 S.D. 113, ¶ 3, 741 N.W.2d at 747 (quoting Sorrels v. Queen of Peace Hosp., 1998 S.D. 12, ¶ 6, 575 N.W.2d 240, 242). “To prevail on a writ of mandamus or prohibition, Petitioners must show ‘a clear legal right to performance of the specific duty sought to be compelled and the [respondent] must have a definite legal obligation to perform that duty.’ ” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. Davis, 2012 S.D. 69, ¶ 13, 822 N.W.2d 62, 66 (quoting H & W Contracting, LLC v. City of Watertown, 2001 S.D. 107, ¶ 24, 633 N.W.2d 167, 175) (alteration in original).

[¶ 10.] “Mandamus may only be used to compel ministerial duties, not discretionary duties.” Sorensen v. Sommervold, 2005 S.D. 33, ¶ 9, 694 N.W.2d 266, 269 (citing Willoughby v. Grim, 1998 S.D. 68, ¶ 8, 581 N.W.2d 165, 168). “[W]hen public officials have a mandatory duty to perform ... mandamus may require performance” but mandamus may not dictate details when there is discretion in how the duty is to be performed. Id. ¶ 9. Further, “an application for a writ of mandamus in the form of an affidavit [i]s sufficiently analogous to a complaint in a civil action to permit a defendant to move to quash the alternative writ” if a plaintiff's application is found insufficient. McDonald v. State, 86 S.D. 570, 574, 199 N.W.2d 583, 585 (1972).

Statutes: SDCL 34A–2–27 and SDCL 34A–2–29

[¶ 11.] The Krsnaks argue that the trial court improperly quashed the writ of mandamus because DENR had a duty to abide by the first provision of SDCL 34A–2–27.2 Under the first provision of SDCL 34A–2–27, the Krsnaks argue that DENR should have required the Brant Lake Sanitary District to obtain a construction permit. Specifically, the provision requires “a valid construction permit from the water management board for the disposal of all wastes which are, or may be, discharged thereby into the groundwaters of the state[.]” SDCL 34A–2–27 (emphasis added). The State argues that this portion of SDCL 34A–2–27 is inapplicable. We agree.

[¶ 12.] The Krsnaks claim that the Brant Lake...

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    ...children do not carry as much weight as [her] past actions of not properly caring for [her] children." S.H.E. , 2012 S.D. 88, ¶ 32, 824 N.W.2d at 429 (citation omitted). The circuit court found that "[g]iven Mother's history and condition at the time of the December 2020 hearing, her incomp......
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    ...particularly the father's limited incarceration period, “legal guardianship would have been a less restrictive alternative until [the] [824 N.W.2d 429][f]ather was able to care for his children.” Id. ¶ 23. [¶ 31.] As in J.I.H., from the time of the dispositional hearing, Father was schedule......
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    ..."'the decision to grant or deny a writ of mandamus under an abuse of discretion standard.'" Krsnak v. S.D. Dep't of Env't & Natural Res., 2012 S.D. 89, ¶ 8, 824 N.W.2d 429, 433 (quoting Grant Cnty. Concerned Citizens v. Grant Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2011 S.D. 5, ¶ 6, 794 N.W.2d 462, 464). "'A......
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    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • April 9, 2013
    ...‘the decision to grant or deny a writ of mandamus under an abuse of discretion standard.’ ” Krsnak v. S.D. Dep't of Env't & Natural Res., 2012 S.D. 89, ¶ 8, 824 N.W.2d 429, 433 (quoting Grant Cnty. Concerned Citizens v. Grant Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2011 S.D. 5, ¶ 6, 794 N.W.2d 462, 464). “ ‘......
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14 cases
  • In re People in Interest of L.N., #29586
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • February 9, 2022
    ...children do not carry as much weight as [her] past actions of not properly caring for [her] children." S.H.E. , 2012 S.D. 88, ¶ 32, 824 N.W.2d at 429 (citation omitted). The circuit court found that "[g]iven Mother's history and condition at the time of the December 2020 hearing, her incomp......
  • People ex rel. S.H.E., No. 26299.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 12, 2012
    ...particularly the father's limited incarceration period, “legal guardianship would have been a less restrictive alternative until [the] [824 N.W.2d 429][f]ather was able to care for his children.” Id. ¶ 23. [¶ 31.] As in J.I.H., from the time of the dispositional hearing, Father was schedule......
  • Tornow v. Sioux Falls Civil Serv. Bd., #26352-a-GAS
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • February 27, 2013
    ..."'the decision to grant or deny a writ of mandamus under an abuse of discretion standard.'" Krsnak v. S.D. Dep't of Env't & Natural Res., 2012 S.D. 89, ¶ 8, 824 N.W.2d 429, 433 (quoting Grant Cnty. Concerned Citizens v. Grant Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2011 S.D. 5, ¶ 6, 794 N.W.2d 462, 464). "'A......
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    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • April 9, 2013
    ...‘the decision to grant or deny a writ of mandamus under an abuse of discretion standard.’ ” Krsnak v. S.D. Dep't of Env't & Natural Res., 2012 S.D. 89, ¶ 8, 824 N.W.2d 429, 433 (quoting Grant Cnty. Concerned Citizens v. Grant Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2011 S.D. 5, ¶ 6, 794 N.W.2d 462, 464). “ ‘......
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