R.B.O. v. Priests of the Sacred Heart, No. 25842.

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtSEVERSON
Citation275 Ed. Law Rep. 983,807 N.W.2d 808,2011 S.D. 86
Decision Date14 December 2011
Docket NumberNo. 25842.
PartiesR.B.O., J.H.C., N.T.H., L.M., L.Z., K.T., J.J., and B.S., Plaintiffs and Appellees, v. PRIESTS OF the SACRED HEART, Defendant and Appellant,andThe Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls; (The) Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart; Inc., Brother Russ; Father William Pitcavage, S.C.J.; Brother Dave; Brother Bill; and Deacon Marion Quagliariello, S.C.J.; Father Thomas Lind, S.C.J.; Brother Matthew L. Miles, Defendants.

2011 S.D. 86
275 Ed.
Law Rep. 983
807 N.W.2d 808

R.B.O., J.H.C., N.T.H., L.M., L.Z., K.T., J.J., and B.S., Plaintiffs and Appellees,
v.
PRIESTS OF the SACRED HEART, Defendant and Appellant,andThe Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls; (The) Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart; Inc., Brother Russ; Father William Pitcavage, S.C.J.; Brother Dave; Brother Bill; and Deacon Marion Quagliariello, S.C.J.; Father Thomas Lind, S.C.J.; Brother Matthew L. Miles, Defendants.

No. 25842.

Supreme Court of South Dakota.

Considered on Briefs Oct. 3, 2011.Decided Dec. 14, 2011.


[807 N.W.2d 809]

Michael Shubeck, Law Offices of Gregory A. Yates, Rapid City, South Dakota and Rebecca Rhoades of Manly & Stewart, Newport Beach, California, Attorneys for plaintiffs and appellees.

Robert B. Anderson of May, Adam, Gerdes and Thompson, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

SEVERSON, Justice.

[¶ 1.] Former students of a parochial school brought an action against the Priests of the Sacred Heart, Inc. (PSH) and other defendants, asserting claims of childhood sexual abuse. PSH filed a motion to dismiss the action on the grounds that the former students failed to timely serve process on PSH in accordance with South Dakota law. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss, finding the former students substantially complied with the applicable service-of-process statute. The circuit court also found service of process on PSH was valid under SDCL 15–2–31. We reverse.

BACKGROUND

[¶ 2.] R.B.O., J.H.C., N.T.H., L.M., L.Z., K.T., J.J. and B.S. (Plaintiffs) are members of a recognized Native American tribe who attended St. Joseph's Indian Mission School (St. Joseph's) on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation in South Dakota. PSH is a religious organization with headquarters in Wisconsin. Plaintiffs allege that individual members of PSH, while acting as employees or agents of St. Joseph's, sexually molested and assaulted them. Plaintiffs also allege that the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, Inc. and the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls are liable for the childhood sexual abuse that allegedly occurred at St. Joseph's.1

[¶ 3.] In an initial attempt to commence this action against PSH, Plaintiffs delivered legal process to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office in late June 2010.

[807 N.W.2d 810]

The Office of the Milwaukee County Sheriff served Amanda Milczarski on July 2, 2010. Milczarski is a receptionist at the Development Office—Sacred Heart Monastery—Priests of the Sacred Heart, Reign of the Sacred Heart, Inc. (Development Office). The Development Office is a separate corporate entity from PSH. The address of the Development Office where Plaintiffs delivered legal process is not the address of PSH.

[¶ 4.] The South Dakota Legislature amended the applicable statute of limitations in civil actions for childhood sexual abuse during the 2010 Legislative Session. The amended statute, which went into effect July 1, 2010, provides that “no person who has reached the age of forty years may recover damages from any person or entity other than the person who perpetrated the actual act of sexual abuse.” SDCL 26–10–25.

[¶ 5.] PSH filed a motion to dismiss on August 13, 2010, alleging Plaintiffs' service of process on Milczarski was insufficient because Milczarski was neither an employee nor agent of PSH. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiffs hired a private process server, DDS Legal Support, to effectuate service on David Nagle, the registered agent of PSH. But the documents Plaintiffs provided to DDS Legal Support did not list PSH as the party to be served. Instead, the documents instructed DDS Legal Support to serve the “Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, Inc., by its Agent David Nagle.” On August 24, 2010, DDS Legal Support personally served Nagle. A return of service was filed indicating that Nagle had been served on behalf of “(The) Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, Inc.”

[¶ 6.] In an order entered December 20, 2010, the circuit court denied PSH's motion to dismiss. The circuit court found Plaintiffs substantially complied with SDCL 15–6–4(d)(1), South Dakota's statute governing requirements for personal service on a business entity. In addition, the circuit court found service of process on PSH was in compliance with SDCL 15–2–31.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶ 7.] “[W]hen a defendant moves to dismiss for insufficient service of process, the burden is on the plaintiff to establish a prima facie case that the service was proper.” Grajczyk v. Tasca, 2006 S.D. 55, ¶ 22, 717 N.W.2d 624, 631 (citing Northrup King Co. v. Compania Productora Semillas Algodoneras Selectas, S.A., 51 F.3d 1383, 1387 (8th Cir.1995)). Whether a plaintiff has presented a prima facie case of sufficient service of process is reviewed by this Court de novo, with no deference given to the circuit court's legal conclusions. Id. (citing Northrup King Co., 51 F.3d at 1387).

DECISION

[¶ 8.] Whether the circuit court erred when it determined that service of process on PSH was valid under South Dakota law.

[¶ 9.] We have recognized that “[p]roper service of process is no mere technicality: that parties be notified of proceedings against them affecting their legal interests is a ‘vital corollary’ to due process and the right to be heard.” Spade v. Branum, 2002 S.D. 43, ¶ 7, 643 N.W.2d 765, 768 (citing Schroeder v. City of New York, 371 U.S. 208, 212, 83 S.Ct. 279, 282, 9 L.Ed.2d 255, 259 (1962)). Thus, service of process serves two important functions: “first,...

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6 practice notes
  • Upell v. Dewey Cnty. Comm'n, No. 27548.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • May 18, 2016
    ...compliance doctrine to the requirements for substituted service of process by a sheriff); R.B.O. v. Priests of the Sacred Heart, 2011 S.D. 86, ¶¶ 13–17, 807 N.W.2d 808, 811–13 (distinguishing Wagner and declining to apply the substantial compliance doctrine to uphold personal service of pro......
  • Jas Enters., Inc. v. BBS Enters., Inc., Nos. 26414
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 17, 2013
    ...is on the [third-party] plaintiff to establish a prima facie case that the service was proper.’ ” R.B.O. v. Priests of the Sacred Heart, 2011 S.D. 86, ¶ 7, 807 N.W.2d 808, 810 (quoting Grajczyk v. Tasca, 2006 S.D. 55, ¶ 22, 717 N.W.2d 624, 631). “Whether a [third-party] plaintiff has presen......
  • Rush v. Rush, No. 27235.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 1, 2015
    ...heard.’ ” JAS Enters., Inc. v. BBS Enters., Inc., 2013 S.D. 54, ¶ 13, 835 N.W.2d 117, 123 (quoting R.B.O. v. Priests of the Sacred Heart, 2011 S.D. 86, ¶ 7, 807 N.W.2d 808, 810). “Service of process advises a party that ‘a legal proceeding has been commenced’ and warns ‘those affected to ap......
  • Expansion Capital Grp., LLC v. Mentat, LLC, Index No. 652782/2018
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • July 2, 2019
    ...entity's president, partner or other head, officer, director or registered agent is sufficient (see R.B.O. v Priests of the Sacred Heart, 2011 SD 86, 807 NW2d 808, 811 [S.D. 2011], citing S.D. Codified Laws § 15-6-4 [d] [1]). Service by mail also is permissible (see S.D. Codified Laws § 15-......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Upell v. Dewey Cnty. Comm'n, No. 27548.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • May 18, 2016
    ...compliance doctrine to the requirements for substituted service of process by a sheriff); R.B.O. v. Priests of the Sacred Heart, 2011 S.D. 86, ¶¶ 13–17, 807 N.W.2d 808, 811–13 (distinguishing Wagner and declining to apply the substantial compliance doctrine to uphold personal service of pro......
  • Jas Enters., Inc. v. BBS Enters., Inc., Nos. 26414
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 17, 2013
    ...is on the [third-party] plaintiff to establish a prima facie case that the service was proper.’ ” R.B.O. v. Priests of the Sacred Heart, 2011 S.D. 86, ¶ 7, 807 N.W.2d 808, 810 (quoting Grajczyk v. Tasca, 2006 S.D. 55, ¶ 22, 717 N.W.2d 624, 631). “Whether a [third-party] plaintiff has presen......
  • Rush v. Rush, No. 27235.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • July 1, 2015
    ...heard.’ ” JAS Enters., Inc. v. BBS Enters., Inc., 2013 S.D. 54, ¶ 13, 835 N.W.2d 117, 123 (quoting R.B.O. v. Priests of the Sacred Heart, 2011 S.D. 86, ¶ 7, 807 N.W.2d 808, 810). “Service of process advises a party that ‘a legal proceeding has been commenced’ and warns ‘those affected to ap......
  • Expansion Capital Grp., LLC v. Mentat, LLC, Index No. 652782/2018
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • July 2, 2019
    ...entity's president, partner or other head, officer, director or registered agent is sufficient (see R.B.O. v Priests of the Sacred Heart, 2011 SD 86, 807 NW2d 808, 811 [S.D. 2011], citing S.D. Codified Laws § 15-6-4 [d] [1]). Service by mail also is permissible (see S.D. Codified Laws § 15-......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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