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SD judge rules in favor of homeowners in Hideaway Hills lawsuit

Published: May. 21, 2021 at 11:12 AM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - A major ruling in an on-going case between Black Hawk residents and the state of South Dakota will allow homeowners to seek compensation after a sinkhole swallowed up part of their neighborhood.

On May 14, Fox Rothschild, a Pennsylvania-based law firm representing a number of former residents, 4th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Krull ruled in favor of plaintiffs suing the state on May 14, writing “the named Plaintiffs have demonstrated that their injuries likely will be redressed by a favorable decision – i.e., an award of damages, based on their constitutional right to individually bring an inverse condemnation case against the State,” according to a press release by the firm.

State’s attorneys argued the homeowners “lack[ed] legal standing to seek damages” in an attempt to dismiss the case, but the court’s rejection will allow residents to continue the lawsuit.

Kathleen Barrow, an attorney with Fox Rothschild, writes their next step is to undergo a certification process to bump the case up to a class-action status. This would allow multiple plaintiffs to collectively pursue the case rather than on an individual basis.

READ MORE: Sinkhole develops in Black Hawk

Local authorities forced more than 40 residents to evacuate the subdivision after the sinkhole revealed itself and a subsurface mining operation in April 2020.

Since then, most former homeowners have had to foot the bill on property taxes while the value of their home plummets.

Meade County was dismissed from the lawsuit in Sept. 2020, but last week’s decision means the state could be on the hook for the 2020 collapse.

“South Dakota can’t have it both ways,” Barrow wrote. “You can’t make millions off mining and retain the ownership of the subsurface estate, but then say you’re not responsible for the damage caused to homes on the surface.”

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