Lawyers for Hideaway Hills homeowners: Class-action suit to proceed without delay
RAPID CITY, S.D. – A class-action lawsuit on behalf of Hideaway Hills residents whose homes have been rendered worthless by unstable underground soil and an abandoned mine is moving forward thanks to a ruling by the South Dakota Supreme Court.
On Nov. 18, the court rejected the state of South Dakota’s petition asking for the right to file an intermediate appeal of the certification of class action, which was issued in September.
The ruling clears the way for every homeowner in the Black Hawk, South Dakota-area neighborhood to receive official notice of the class certification in the coming days. The lawsuit seeks full compensation for homeowners based on the appraisal of each property before an April 2020 mine collapse created a large sinkhole near East Daisy Drive. Overnight, property values plummeted while state officials refused to acknowledge responsibility.
“This ruling shuts the door on any more delay tactics by the state, and we are ready to move forward,” said Kathy Barrow, a partner at the Fox Rothschild law firm. “These residents have been in limbo for too long. A class-action sets the stage for a neighborhood-wide solution.”
By law, all owners of 158 homes in the neighborhood are part of the lawsuit unless they opt out. In addition, homeowners can participate in the lawsuit without impacting any individual claims they might have against other defendants.
For generations, the state owned and operated gypsum mines in the region as part of its now-defunct for-profit cement company. According to the lawsuit, the state failed to properly remediate the underground soil and underground, pit and strip mines before the surface property was sold to a housing developer.
In September, Fox Rothschild attorneys won class certification after presenting findings from geological experts about the imminent dangers throughout the neighborhood. In granting certification, Circuit Court Judge Kevin Krull ruled in part that mounting separate lawsuits would be too costly and time-consuming for any individual homeowner. As a class-action, costs for geophysical and engineering studies and expert analysis are shared by all plaintiffs.
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.
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