USD Law Student Emma Otterpohl ’18 Selected as Member of Rural Summer Legal Corps

Emma Otterpohl, rising third year law student at the University of South Dakota School of Law, was selected as one of only thirty law students nation-wide to serve as a member of Equal Justice Works’ 2017 Rural Summer Legal Corps. Emma will serve clients through Iowa Legal Aid over the summer, receiving a $5,000 stipend to fund her service. The Rural Summer Legal Corps connects public interest law students with civil legal aid organizations to address pressing legal issues facing rural communities.

Emma joins 29 other public interest law students in addressing pressing legal issues facing rural communities in the areas of housing, domestic violence, public benefits, migrant farmworkers, Native American law, and family law. Specifically, Emma will provide services to low-income and elderly Iowans with legal issues such as housing, employment, and family law, among others. As part of her service, she will draft pleadings, conduct legal research, and accompany attorneys to court hearings.

Last week, Emma attended the official kick-off of this year’s Rural Summer Legal Corps in Washington, DC, at the joint training hosted by Equal Justice Works and the Legal Services Corporation. The students traveled to Martinsburg, West Virginia to gain first-hand experience and training on the unique challenges and benefits of working with legal clients in a rural setting. After their intensive training from experts in fields affecting rural law, the law students will return directly to their host site to continue their work at their rural placements.

Emma Otterpohl Rural Summer Legal Corps 2017-06

USD Law Student Emma Otterpohl ’18 (back row sixth) is one of only 30 law students selected nation-wide to participate in Equal Justice Works’ Rural Summer Legal Corps program, 2017.


USD Law Prof. Baron’s Subrogation Article Cited by Hawai’i Supreme Court

University of South Dakota School of Law Professor Emeritus Roger Baron was cited by the Hawai’i Supreme Court in YUKUMOTO v. TAWARAHARA (2017 WL 2303528), an opinion handed down this past Friday, May 26, 2017.  The decision resolved an issue of first impression concerning the ability of a health insurer to be subrogated against third-party tortfeasors.   This opinion cites other authorities in support of its ruling, but Prof. Baron’s 1996 subrogation article published in the South Dakota Law Review is the first secondary (non-judicial) authority cited in the opinion.


USD Law Professor Emeritus Roger Baron

This case presented the Hawai’i Supreme Court with its first opportunity to address the Hawai’i legislature’s statute addressing subrogation by a health insurer.  Under the new statute, subrogation is limited and, in some cases, prohibited altogether.  In this case the tort plaintiff was catastrophically injured while riding a moped in Honolulu.  The trial court denied recovery to the health insurer and the Hawai’i Supreme Court affirmed.  This opinion rejects the assertion that the health insurer has superior rights based upon contract and based upon equity.

The citation to Professor Baron’s article is found in the Court’s initial discussion and is reproduced here:

Subrogation is a “creature of equity,” and is premised on the notion that an insured should not be able to “unduly benefit from a loss and thereby enjoy a ‘double recovery’ from both the insurer and the tortfeasor.” St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 135 Hawai‘i 449, 452, 353 P.3d 991, 994 (2015); Roger Baron, Subrogation: A Pandora’s Box Awaiting Closure, 41 S.D. L. Rev. 237, 241 (1996);

The Hawai’i Supreme Court joins a growing list of courts that have cited this South Dakota Law Review article authored by Professor Emeritus Roger Baron.  This same article  has been cited by the Alabama Supreme Court, Alabama Civil Court of Appeals, California Appellate Court, Nebraska Federal District Court, New Jersey Supreme Court, New Jersey Appellate Court, New Jersey Superior Court, New Jersey Federal District Court, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (dissenting opinion), Puerto Rico Supreme Court (opinion in Spanish) and the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

By Marie H. Ruettgers, Partner and Managing Attorney at Goosmann Law Firm, PLC of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.