Fox Rothschild: Hideaway Hills Mine Collapse Court Reopens Class

Homeowners that previously opted out have until May 1 to join the class

RAPID CITY, S.D. – A court in South Dakota responsible for overseeing the class action lawsuit involving the Hideaway Hills subdivision in Black Hawk, S.D., has reopened the class, allowing homeowners that previously decided against joining the litigation to change their minds and take part in the case.

The court’s order opens a window until May 1, 2024, during which homeowners can rescind their decision to opt out.

“I don’t know that I have ever seen anything like this in a class action case before. It really is extraordinary,” says attorney Kathleen Barrow of Fox Rothschild, who along with attorney David Grant Crooks represents families in the 158 homes that are part of the Hideaway Hills subdivision.

The case dates to April 2020, when a sinkhole opened in the neighborhood, revealing an abandoned state-operated gypsum mine. South Dakota for generations operated gypsum mines to support its for-profit cement company. In 1994, when the state sold the land to a private developer, it retained rights to the subsurface minerals.

The court’s decision to reopen the class comes as geotechnical testing on soils in the neighborhood shows high concentrations of water-soluble gypsum in the fill dirt the state used to reclaim the area just before homes were built. Testing shows the soils utilized by the state for mine reclamation contain an average of about 25 percent pulverized gypsum, with a high of 80 percent. Some residents are living in areas with 40 feet of fill dirt, a majority of which is pulverized gypsum, which could disintegrate and collapse when it is exposed to moisture.

The case is Andrew Morse and John and Emily Clarke et al. v. State of South Dakota, No. 46CIV-20-000295 in the Meade County 4th Judicial District. It is set for trial later this year.     

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Media Contact:  

Mark Annick


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