Legal fight over Hughes County farm explosion can continue, South Dakota Supreme Court says

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Court Gavel

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Supreme Court says two civil cases must be reinstated in a dispute involving the deaths of two men and injuries to a third at a farm in eastern Hughes County.

Chalan Hedman and Troy Hattum lost their lives as a result of burns from an August 8, 2016, explosion while they were trying to weld shut a leak in a truck’s fuel tank.

The incident occurred at Hattum Family Farms in the Harrold area.

Circuit Judge Margo Northrup had dismissed a consolidated case brought against the owners of the farming operation, including Todd Hattum, his wife Chelsea and his parents, Bob and Beverly Hattum.

The lawsuits came from Chalan Hedman’s estate and Jeff Holshouser, who was burned as he tried to rescue Troy Hattum, who was Todd and Chelsea’s son.

The Supreme Court publicly released an opinion Thursday reversing part of the dismissal and saying the matter can continue.

Wrote Chief Justice Steven Jensen, “(G)enuine issues of material fact exist as to whether Troy was acting in the scope of his employment when he welded the tank and whether Chalan assumed the risk.”

The chief justice added, “We also leave open the legal question of whether welding a diesel fuel tank is an abnormally dangerous activity.”

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