September 25, 2019
The South Dakota Supreme Court unanimously affirmed a win we achieved in the trial court for our clients, Bryce and Barry Healy and their family ranch corporation, in a lawsuit brought against them by their brother, Bret Healy.
Bret made assorted claims about the ownership of the corporation, including the claim that he didn’t know the corporation owned the ranch and that he thought he owned it in a prior partnership. The problem Bret had is that we showed he was the President of the corporation most of the years of its existence, he signed many mortgages for it on the land, and he even bought his home building site from the corporation! The trial judge dismissed his lawsuit and found it was both frivolous and malicious. The trial court awarded $83,295.42 in fees—in the short life of the lawsuit Bret sent out 2,304 discovery requests!
The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the trial court and awarded an additional $18,450 in attorney’s fees and turned down Bret’s request for fees.
Attorney’s fees are rarely awarded. The size of these awards says something about the nature of the lawsuit that was brought—and probably how effective we were in getting it dismissed. Our office is involved in several family farm and ranch lawsuits.