Fodness Family Files Lawsuit Against The City

Local News

The family of Emily Fodness, the young Sioux Falls woman who was buried alive in the downtown building collapse almost two years ago, is now suing the city; claiming negligence.  

The Fodness family claims the city knew that Hultgren Construction LLC intended to combine parts of the Copper Lounge and the old Skelly’s Bar into one space for commercial development by removing portions of a load bearing wall and did nothing to try and stop them. 

We all remember that horrific day in early December of 2016, when the Copper Lounge building that was under construction collapsed; killing one worker and seriously injuring Emily Fodness.  

She was trapped underneath the rubble for several hours before she was rescued. 

According to this six page lawsuit, the Fodness family claims the city issued Hultgren Construction LLC 33 building permits for the construction repair, remodel or demolition of the two buildings.  

They also claim the city was aware of repeated instances in which Hultgren Construction LLC failed to comply with and work beyond the scope of work allowed by those permits. 

The lawsuit says if the city would have notified the Fodnesses of the dangers it knew existed, they would not have continued to live in their upstairs apartment during the project. 

KELOLAND News sat down for an exclusive interview with Emily a few weeks after her rescue.  

She talked about her fears and how she was holding out hope that firefighters would be able to find her while talking to her on her cell phone. 

She told KELOLAND News she tried to remain calm and repeatedly yelled for help as they tried pinpointing her location under all the debris. She said minutes seemed like hours.

“They still couldn’t hear me and this is probably an hour and half into it and I just broke down and cried and thought, ‘Am I going to die here?'” Fodness said in the 2016 interview. 

Her dad, Mike Fodness, who was just next door, ran outside and saw the destruction and thought his daughter Emily had been killed in the collapse.  

The lawsuit says she sustained severe physical and psychological injuries that she still suffers from today. 

The Fodnesses are asking the city to pay for past and/or future damages and will let the court decide the amount.

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