South Dakota justices order new trial in hunting-lodge debt case

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in a Marshall County debt dispute.

The state’s high court publicly released the decision Thursday.

Justice Janine Kern wrote the unanimous opinion. The high court said the circuit judge who conducted the trial committed several errors that likely affected the jury’s decisions.

Loretta and Terrence Mealy and their corporation, Investment Enterprises Inc., loaned Bruce and Corrine Prins nearly $1.2 million to operate Prairie Sky Guest and Game Ranch.

The Mealys side sued the Prins in 2015 for recovery. By that time 48 of the 55 promissory notes had expired. The jury awarded $135,000 to the Prins and awarded $135,000 to the Mealys.

The justices Thursday affirmed the trial results regarding the expired promissory notes and the $135,000 award to the Prins.

But the justices said the Mealys should get a new trial because Circuit Judge Jon Flemmer didn’t properly instruct the jury on a missing witness and allowed the jury to calculate interest on the seven enforceable promissory notes.

The circuit judge also must instruct the jury at re-trial that the Mealys shouldn’t be reimbursed for the expired promissory notes, the high court said.

The Supreme Court decision can be read here.

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