South Dakota Property Owners Sue Over Recently Exposed Mine, Sinkhole

May 29, 2020

Residents of a Black Hawk, South Dakota, neighborhood where a sinkhole has exposed an abandoned mine endangering their properties have filed a $75.5 million lawsuit claiming government entities and private developers were negligent.

Attorney John Fitzgerald is representing more than 117 residents of the Hideaway Hills neighborhood where more than 40 residents have been evacuated and dozens more are afraid their homes could collapse since the sinkhole on April 27 exposed the gypsum mine.

It’s “unbelievable” to think the state, county and everyone involved in developing the Hideaway Hills community didn’t know it was built on top of an abandoned gypsum mine, Fitzgerald said.

The complaint contains 14 counts, most dealing with negligence, breach of warrant and failure to warn, against dozens of entities and individuals, including the state, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The defendants include the state of South Dakota, Meade County and its commissioners, title and engineering and real estate companies and others.

The lawsuit said four streets were built on top of mine waste rock, causing “extreme sinkage” to home foundations, cracked walls and clogged sewer lines due to shifting soil. Four other streets have homes experiencing the same issues after they were built on top of tailing ponds and/or sewage lagoons.

Some residents on the four other streets have also reported “extreme and unexplainable health problems,” the lawsuit said.

Gov. Kristi Noem said last week the state reclaimed the area after conducting surface mining in the mid-1980s.

But “the state had no knowledge at any time that this mine was in place, it’s not in our records,” Noem said, adding that the state drilled into the earth but never hit mine cavities.

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