SD Supreme Court looks at case involving Pierre volunteer firefighter

Local News

The October 2020 session of the South Dakota Supreme Court is underway this week. One of the cases involves an incident that happened in 2016 north of Pierre.

Gerrit Tronvold, who is part of the Pierre volunteer fire department, was heading to a monthly meeting at the fire station. According to court documents, he failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of Grey Goose Road and South Dakota Highway 1804.

As he crossed the oncoming lane of traffic, a motorcycle carrying Randall Jurgens and Lisa Tammen, crashed into the side of his pickup. Both suffered life-threatening injuries, including having their left legs amputated.

The fire department and city of Pierre say they were not vicariously liable for Tronvold’s actions under the ‘coming and going’ rule.

“To go to this meeting, he just had to get there, that is not a vehicle exception to the strongly established ‘coming and going’ rule that has been recognized in the restatement and has been the established law not only in South Dakota, but elsewhere,” Attorney Michael Luce said.

“In this case, Mr. Tronvold was going to training with his personal protective equipment to learn how to be a fireman, he wasn’t benefiting from this, the soul benefit to him, the soul benefit, in this case, was the Pierre volunteer fire department because they were getting firefighters who were volunteers better trained,” Attorney Mark Haigh said.

Tronvold was not injured during the crash. It was disputed whether or not the meeting was mandatory, however, a city ordinance says there are requirements to attend all meetings. The supreme court will make its ruling at a later day.

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