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Eli v. Eli

557 N.W.2d 405 (1997)

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Eli v. Eli

South Dakota Supreme Court

557 N.W.2d 405 (1997)

Facts

Myrtle Eli owned 117 acres of farmland that had been in her family for almost 100 years. She passed the land on to her three sons, Chester, James, and Dale, with each receiving a one-third undivided share. Dale separately received and lived on five acres of the parcel, so that 112 acres remained jointly owned by the brothers. Dale passed his right to the land to his daughter Jody (defendant). Chester and James (plaintiffs) sought to force a sale of the land, with the proceeds to be divided equally between the owners. Jody opposed the sale and instead requested that the court order a partition of the land with each co-owner receiving a one-third parcel. Evidence was given at trial that the land was easily divisible into three parcels, and that those parcels would still be usable as farmland and saleable, but that the total value of the land would be worth 10 to 20 percent more if it was sold as a whole unit rather than as three parcels. Jody testified that she would be willing to accept any third of the land, that she would consent to easements over the land she received if necessary to retain value for the other parcels, and that her primary concern was to keep the land in her family, as it had been for almost a century. The trial court found that partition would amount to a great prejudice to Jody’s co-owners because it would result in a reduced total sale value and therefore ordered that the land be sold as a whole unit. Jody appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gilbertson, J.)

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