Survivor of South Dakota Building Collapse Files Lawsuit

March 19, 2018

A woman who survived beneath rubble for hours after a 2016 building collapse in Sioux Falls, S.D., is suing the developer and construction company.

Emily Fodness was sleeping in an apartment above the Copper Lounge in December 2016 when Hultgren Construction removed a load-bearing wall on the first floor and the building collapsed, trapping her.

Fodness and her parents allege in their lawsuit filed Tuesday that Hultgren ignored warning signs that the structure was failing, the Argus Leader reported. They allege the construction company and the developer, Legacy Developments, “lacked the experience, training and competence” to oversee the project.

The lawsuit also names the construction company’s president, Aaron Hultgren, and project engineer Rise Structural Associates, as well as three limited liability companies with ownership stakes in the project, Boomerang, CLP and Olympia.

The Fodness lawsuit follows another filed against the same entities this month by the family of Ethan McMahon, the construction worker who was killed in the building collapse.

Both lawsuits allege that Hultgren Construction and Legacy Development were closely related entities.

“Upon information and belief, Hultgren Construction was formed at the urging of Legacy’s principals to act as the general contractor for projects in which Legacy was developer in an effort to cut costs,” the Fodness lawsuit states.

Aaron Hultgren also served as the director of development for Legacy, though he later left the position. He was removed from his role as guarantor on Legacy’s $50 million hotel and parking ramp project with the city of Sioux Falls.

Hultgren declined the newspaper’s request for comment Wednesday.

Legacy spokeswoman Stacy Jones said “Legacy Development and Consulting Company, LLC is aware of the filing, but it is our policy not to comment on pending litigation.”

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.