Sioux Falls Settles Negligence Lawsuit Filed After Child’s Drowning

February 22, 2021

The City of Sioux Falls has agreed to pay $500,000 to the mother of the 5-year-old girl who drowned in the river at Falls Park three years ago.

Courtney Jayne claimed the city was negligent in the death of Maggie Zaiger, who fell into the Big Sioux River and drowned in March of 2018.

The agreement states that the settlement is “not an admission of fault or liability by either party but rather a compromise of disputed claims.”

The city also agreed to place signs in the parking lots of Falls Park for at least five years, warning people to keep away from foam that accumulates in the river during the spring.

The lawsuit alleged the city had been warned in previous safety reviews that conditions at the park were unsafe, particularly during spring melting when high volumes of water create a thick foam that appears to be solid.

Nearly five years to the day that Zaiger died, Madison Wallace and Lyle Eagle Tail drowned in the same location after they attempted to help Madison’s younger brother, who fell into the river, but survived.

After Zaiger’s death, the city installed additional fencing and viewing platforms in the area where she died.

The settlement cancels a jury trial scheduled for April.

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