City settles wrongful death lawsuit with Iowa family who lost their 5 year old daughter in a drowning at Falls Park

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The city of Sioux Falls has settled a wrongful death lawsuit with an Iowa family whose daughter drowned at Falls Park nearly three years ago.

5-year-old Maggie Zaiger drowned at Falls Park on March 18th, 2018.

According to witnesses Maggie fell into the water as she was trying to play with the foam that was built up on the river.

Her body was recovered later that day by rescuers.

Courtney Jayne, the mother of the child, sued the city – claiming it should have done more to protect her daughter.

“As you can imagine this has been an absolutely heart wrenching past couple of years for Maggie’s mom and siblings. What this does is really allows the family to move forward,” Johnson said.

According to the settlement filed in Federal Court, the city will pay Maggie’s mother half a million dollars.

After Maggie’s death, the city installed several viewing platforms to keep visitors away from the river. The attorney for the family says it was a step in the right direction.

Under the settlement, the city will also have to place portable signs at each of the four parking lots reminding visitors to keep away from the foam in the river.

The signs will stay in place from March 1st to April 30th for a minimum of five years.

“The goal for Maggie’s mom from the beginning was to make this area safer so that no other family has to go through what her family has lived through,” Johnson said.

Courtney Jayne agrees not to communicate any disparaging information about the city verbally or in writing, including on social media.

Sioux Falls mayor Paul Tenhaken issued a statement about today’s ruling.

“The City of Sioux Falls and Courtney Jayne have filed a joint motion requesting that the Court approve a settlement of the lawsuit arising out of the tragic death of 5-year-old Maggie Zaiger, who drowned at Falls Park on March 18, 2018. In reaching this agreement, the parties acknowledge that the settlement is not an admission of fault or liability by either party but rather a compromise of disputed claims. As part of the settlement, the City has agreed to pay $500,000 to the plaintiff and, in March and April, place portable signs in the park’s vicinity advising visitors to keep away from foam in the river. The City is pleased that the parties were able to agree on a resolution that allows closure for Zaiger’s family and an end to the case. The City will continue to manage Falls Park for the benefit of the public and urges visitors to observe posted warnings and to act with respect for the park’s natural hazards.”

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