Smizer v. DreyAnnotate this Case
Dorothy and Harlan Smizer were seriously injured when a vehicle driven by Christina Drey collided with the Smizers’ vehicle. The Smizers brought suit against Christina alleging negligence and seeking to recover compensatory and punitive damages. The circuit court granted the Smizers’ motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of Christina’s negligence and granted Christina’s motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of punitive damages. The court also granted Christina’s motion for sanctions under S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-11(c), concluding that the Smizers did not conduct a reasonable investigation in law or fact to support their claim for punitive damages and that the Smizers improperly sought punitive damages to attempt to leverage a settlement of their negligence claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it held that the Smizers had no basis in law or fact to assert their claim for punitive damages and brought their claim for an improper purpose.