Three years after Copper Lounge building collapse and lawsuits are still pending

Local News

It’s been three years this week since the deadly downtown building collapse in Sioux Falls that killed one person and injured another.

Back in August, KELOLAND News reported there was a multi-million dollar federal settlement that paid out over $4 million to the families and businesses affected by the collapse.

But, here we are, three years after the tragedy and there are a number of lawsuits still pending in state and federal court.

The family of Ethan McMahon, the construction worker who was killed back in December of 2016, when the Copper Lounge building on Phillips Avenue collapsed, still has a pending lawsuit against Legacy Development LLC, Hultgren Construction LLC and a handful of others.

In the lawsuit, the McMahon family claims that Hultrgen Construction and the others, who were remodeling the building, knew of a large crack in a load bearing wall.

They claim that impaired the structural integrity of that wall and would create a significant risk for the wall to give out and the entire structure would collapse.

The family of Emily Fodness also has a lawsuit pending against those same parties.

Emily Fodness, who was sleeping in her bedroom on the second floor of the building, was trapped and buried alive under the rubble for nearly six hours until she could finally be rescued.

The owner of Eastwold Smoke Shop, which was attached to the Copper Lounge also has a pending lawsuit against Legacy Development LLC, Hultgren Construction LLC and others, as well.

In its lawsuit, after the collapse, the business alleges it was advised to remove its property from the smoke shop for safety precautions.

The smoke shop was later torn down.

They claim they lost income, inventory, additional expenses and continue to suffer lost income due to the building collapse.

All of the plaintiffs are asking for an amount of damages to be determined at trial.

A representative for Hultgren Construction, LLC pleaded guilty in Federal Court back in September to violating health and safety rules.

It faces a maximum penalty of a half million dollars in fines and five years probation when sentenced later this month.

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