Harding County, SD v. Frithiof, No. 08-1540
In an action for breach of contract and tort involving a lease to county land, district court judgment is affirmed where: 1) defendant did not breach a fiduciary duty to disclose during lease negotiations with the county that he had previously discovered, removed and attempted to sell fossil remains from the lease lands as the parties were dealing at arm's length, the county knew remains had been found in similar situations and defendant could reasonably expect the county to make its own investigations and protect its own interests; 2) the court did not err in dismissing county's claims for constructive and actual fraud; 3) the court did not err in dismissing the claim for rescission of the lease agreement based on unilateral mistake of fact as the county made no attempt to determine whether there had been any discoveries on the land; 4) the county's failure to comply with the public hearing requirement did not provide a basis for rescinding the lease; 5) the county is estopped from rescinding the lease based on its failure to comply with the South Dakota statute on leases; 6) the tort claims of trespass and conversion were properly rejected as defendant entered the land with the then-current lessee's permission and an action for conversion will not lie after a lease is signed; and 7) in the absence of an underlying tort, the county cannot state a claim for civil conspiracy.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota.
Submitted: February 12, 2009
Filed: August 6, 2009
Before LOKEN, Chief Judge, MELLOY and BENTON, Circuit Judges
Opinion by LOKEN, Chief Judge