Justices say city must pay $3.8 million over car crash

Chris Rizo Jul. 20, 2008, 4:00pm

South Dakota Supreme Court justices

PIERRE, S.D. (Legal Newsline)--The South Dakota Supreme Court says Rapid City must pay $3.85 million in damages to the parents of a teenager who suffered brain damage after being trapped underwater following a car crash.

Adam Hohm, 16, was a passenger in a car that slid off a slippery, snow-covered curve in Rapid City in December 2000. The car landed upside down in a canal.

Adam's parents, Dean and Jean Hohm, acting as Adam's guardians and conservators, sued the city, alleging breach of various duties relating to streets.

The Hohms sued the city, claiming Rapid City failed to maintain its streets, erect guards near the canal, and post signs warning of known dangers.

The city filed a bevy of motions to dismiss the cases on the basis that it owed no duty to Adam. Each of the city's motions were denied, and a jury entered a verdict for Hohms.

The high court agreed that the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit was correct in awarding damages to the Hohms.

"Consistent with the holdings distinguishing county and municipal liability, this Court handed down a long line of decisions recognizing a common-law duty on the part of municipalities to keep, repair or maintain streets and sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition for public travel," the court ruled.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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