Pierce v. City of Belle Fourche, No. 21520.

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtGORS, Circuit
Citation2001 SD 41,624 N.W.2d 353
Decision Date28 March 2001
Docket NumberNo. 21520.
PartiesJohn PIERCE, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. CITY OF BELLE FOURCHE, South Dakota, a Municipal Corporation, Defendant and Appellee.

624 N.W.2d 353
2001 SD 41

John PIERCE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
CITY OF BELLE FOURCHE, South Dakota, a Municipal Corporation, Defendant and Appellee

No. 21520.

Supreme Court of South Dakota.

Argued November 29, 2000.

Decided March 28, 2001.


624 N.W.2d 354
Jim D. Seward and Roger A. Tellinghuisen of Fuller, Tellinghuisen, Gordon & Percy, Spearfish, SD, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellant

Michael W. Day of Quinn, Day & Barker, Belle Fourche, SD, Attorneys for defendant and appellee.

GORS, Circuit Judge

[¶ 1.] John Pierce (Pierce) appeals summary judgment in favor of the City of Belle Fourche (City). We reverse.

FACTS

[¶ 2.] On March 14, 1999, Pierce landed his airplane at the Belle Fourche Municipal Airport. The airport advertised that it was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The airport was unattended because the airport manager was at a three-day airport conference in Pierre. After fueling, Pierce parked and tied down his airplane. Pierce had fueled and parked his airplane at the Belle Fourche airport numerous times in the past. The airport manager trusted Pierce to do business at the airport when he was absent. Pierce used tie-down ropes supplied by the airport to secure his airplane.

[¶ 3.] The airport manager personally selected and purchased the rope from which he fabricated the tie-downs. The airport manager had no set policy for inspecting or testing the tie-down ropes. He would replace them whenever the thought occurred to him sometimes on an annual basis. The manager customarily checked the weather every morning. When wind warnings existed, the manager would double-tie the airplanes at the airport to prevent wind damage.

[¶ 4.] On March 16, 1999, a windstorm hit the airport. The tie-down ropes securing Pierce's airplane broke, and the airplane flipped over and slid down the parking area, incurring thousands of dollars in damage. No personnel had been on duty at the airport between the time Pierce landed and tied down his airplane and the time of the windstorm.

[¶ 5.] Pierce had the tie-down ropes tested by Dr. M.R. Hansen, a consulting engineer. Dr. Hanson tested the tie-down ropes which failed and tested new ropes of the same type. In Dr. Hanson's opinion, the ropes which failed had an average tensile strength of approximately 10 percent of the new rope.

[¶ 6.] Pierce sued City based on implied contract and negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment on both causes of action and held as a matter of law that the airport owed Pierce no duty. Pierce appeals summary judgment only on the negligence claim, raising the following issues:

624 N.W.2d 355
Did City owe Pierce a duty of reasonable care?
Was there a genuine issue of material fact?

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶ 7.] The standard of review of summary judgment is well settled. "Under our familiar standard for reviewing summary judgments, we decide only whether genuine issues of material fact existed and whether the law was correctly applied." Kobbeman v. Oleson, 1998 SD 20, ¶ 4, 574 N.W.2d 633, 635. When making this analysis, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and resolve reasonable doubts against the moving party. Satellite Cable Srvs. v. Northern Electric, 1998 SD 67, ¶ 5, 581 N.W.2d 478, 480. As we take an independent review of the record, we are not bound by the trial court's factual assessments in granting summary judgment. Fritzel v. Roy Johnson Const., 1999 SD 59, ¶ 7, 594 N.W.2d 336, 338 (citing Spenner v. City of Sioux Falls, 1998 SD 56, ¶ 7, 580 N.W.2d 606, 609).

[¶ 8.] Summary judgment is proper in negligence cases if no duty exists as a matter of law. Peterson v. Spink Elec. Co-op., Inc., 1998 SD 60, ¶ 1-2, 578 N.W.2d 589, 591. Duty is a question of law subject to de novo review. Fisher Sand & Gravel v. State, 1997 SD 8, ¶ 12, 558 N.W.2d 864, 867; Poelstra v. Basin Elec. Power Co-op., 1996 SD 36, ¶ 9, 545 N.W.2d 823, 825; Trammell v. Prairie States Ins. Co., 473 N.W.2d 460, 462 (S.D. 1991). "[W]e must determine if a relationship exists between the parties such that the law will impose upon the defendant a legal obligation or reasonable conduct for the benefit of the plaintiff." Bland v. Davison County, 507 N.W.2d 80, 81 (S.D. 1993).

DECISION

ISSUE ONE

[¶ 9.] City owes Pierce a duty of reasonable care.

Pierce is a business invitee.

[¶ 10.] The airport manager testified that City wanted people to land at its airport and to do business at both the airport and in Belle Fourche. The airport parking area and tie-down ropes were offered as a convenience for the patrons. After landing, Pierce filled his airplane with gasoline, tied it down, and went to Belle Fourche. The trial court recognized that Pierce was a business invitee which is not at issue.

City owes a duty of reasonable care to business invitees and their property.

[¶ 11.] Under § 343 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts a possessor of land owes a business invitee a duty of reasonable care. Ballard v. Happy Jack's Supper Club, 425 N.W.2d 385, 388 (S.D. 1988); Mitchell v. Ankney, 396 N.W.2d 312, 313-14 (S.D.1986); Stenholtz v. Modica, 264 N.W.2d 514, 516 (S.D.1978). The duty includes the use of ordinary care in active operations on the property. Mitchell, 396 N.W.2d at 313-14; Restatement (Second) Torts § 343, comments b and d (1965). The duty extends to fixtures, attachments and appliances used on land. Restatement (Second) Torts § 343 comment f (1965). Tie-down ropes are appliances. The trial court held that if there is a duty of reasonable care, the duty extends not only to the business invitee's person but...

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13 practice notes
  • Hohm v. City of Rapid City, No. 24105.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 16, 2008
    ...streets. See Elkjer v. City of Rapid City, 2005 SD 45, 695 N.W.2d 235 (defective water service lines); Pierce v. City of Belle Fourche, 2001 SD 41, 624 N.W.2d 353 (city owed a duty of reasonable care in the operation of its airport); Oien v. City of Sioux Falls, 393 N.W.2d 286 (S.D.1986) (m......
  • Janis v. Nash Finch Co., No. 25261.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • March 17, 2010
    ...exists." Id. ¶ 7. "Summary judgment is proper in negligence cases if no duty exists as a matter of law." Pierce v. City of Belle Fourche, 2001 SD 41, ¶ 8, 624 N.W.2d 353, 355 (citing Peterson v. Spink Elec. Coop., Inc., 1998 SD 60, ¶¶ 1-2, 578 N.W.2d 589, 591). "Questions of negligence, con......
  • Koenig v. London, #29131
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 22, 2021
    ...Inc. , 518 N.W.2d 227 (S.D. 1994) ; Thompson v. Summers , 1997 S.D. 103, 567 N.W.2d 387 ; Pierce v. City of Belle Fourche , 2001 S.D. 41, 624 N.W.2d 353 ; Johnson v. Hayman & Assoc., Inc. , 2015 S.D. 63, 867 N.W.2d 698 ; Zerfas v. AMCO Ins. Co. , 2015 S.D. 99, 873 N.W.2d 65. And, as the cir......
  • Koenig v. London, 29131-a-MES
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 22, 2021
    ...Inc., 518 N.W.2d 227 (S.D. 1994); Thompson v. Summers, 1997 S.D. 103, 567 N.W.2d 387; Pierce v. City of Belle Fourche, 2001 S.D. 41, 624 N.W.2d 353; Johnson v. Hayman & Assoc., Inc., 2015 S.D. 63, 867 N.W.2d 698; Zerfas v. AMCO Ins. Co., 2015 S.D. 99, 873 N.W.2d 65. And, as the circuit cour......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Hohm v. City of Rapid City, No. 24105.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 16, 2008
    ...streets. See Elkjer v. City of Rapid City, 2005 SD 45, 695 N.W.2d 235 (defective water service lines); Pierce v. City of Belle Fourche, 2001 SD 41, 624 N.W.2d 353 (city owed a duty of reasonable care in the operation of its airport); Oien v. City of Sioux Falls, 393 N.W.2d 286 (S.D.1986) (m......
  • Janis v. Nash Finch Co., No. 25261.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • March 17, 2010
    ...exists." Id. ¶ 7. "Summary judgment is proper in negligence cases if no duty exists as a matter of law." Pierce v. City of Belle Fourche, 2001 SD 41, ¶ 8, 624 N.W.2d 353, 355 (citing Peterson v. Spink Elec. Coop., Inc., 1998 SD 60, ¶¶ 1-2, 578 N.W.2d 589, 591). "Questions of negligence, con......
  • Koenig v. London, #29131
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 22, 2021
    ...Inc. , 518 N.W.2d 227 (S.D. 1994) ; Thompson v. Summers , 1997 S.D. 103, 567 N.W.2d 387 ; Pierce v. City of Belle Fourche , 2001 S.D. 41, 624 N.W.2d 353 ; Johnson v. Hayman & Assoc., Inc. , 2015 S.D. 63, 867 N.W.2d 698 ; Zerfas v. AMCO Ins. Co. , 2015 S.D. 99, 873 N.W.2d 65. And, as the cir......
  • Koenig v. London, 29131-a-MES
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 22, 2021
    ...Inc., 518 N.W.2d 227 (S.D. 1994); Thompson v. Summers, 1997 S.D. 103, 567 N.W.2d 387; Pierce v. City of Belle Fourche, 2001 S.D. 41, 624 N.W.2d 353; Johnson v. Hayman & Assoc., Inc., 2015 S.D. 63, 867 N.W.2d 698; Zerfas v. AMCO Ins. Co., 2015 S.D. 99, 873 N.W.2d 65. And, as the circuit cour......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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