BLACK HAWK, S.D. (KELO) — A South Dakota judge has ruled in favor of people living in a Black Hawk neighborhood built on top of an old gypsum mine. A year ago, the ground started to collapse, forcing some families out of their homes.
They filed a lawsuit, and this month a judge ruled that they can seek damages from the state.
One hurdle down, but many more to go. That’s how Carisa Gerving and Caitlin Samuel see it.
“The goal of the lawsuit for us and being a part of it would be one, knowing if we are safe, I think that’s the number one. Second, to at least get our equity that we’ve built in our house. Hopefully, to become competitive in this market,” Samuel said.
Samuel and her family tried to buy a new home, but couldn’t find one in their price range, so they stopped looking.
Back in April of last year, around a dozen homes were evacuated due to the mine collapse.
“We were gone for about five months living in my in-laws basement and just kind of making the most of things,” Gerving said.
Last fall, Gerving and her family decided to move back home. She is cautiously optimistic about the court hearing and the future.
“We are also just being realistic knowing that we have a long fight ahead because they could file that class-action and the state could offer to dismiss and this thing could be dragged out for years living on top of gypsum mine, not knowing if we are safe or not,” Gerving said.
“That’s the number one is to get them out of there and make them safe. The second is to make them whole. Give them what they’ve lost in terms of the value of their homes so they can go and buy another house and live the rest of their lives,” Kathy Barrow, attorney with Fox Rothschild, said.
Barrow says the next step will be to certify the lawsuit’s class-action status.
“In the game of basketball, just because one person makes a shot, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we win the game. We certainly applaud the success knowing there are many more to come,” Samuel said.
KELOLAND News reached out to a state’s attorney on the case, who had not responded in time for the airing of this story.