Agenda Item Summary


Meeting Date: 8/14/2013

Commission, Board or Committee: Click here to enter date.

Staff Contact: Joel Landeen, City Attorney

PW Committee or L&F Committee: Legal & Finance

Petitioner: Click here to enter text.

City Council 1st Reading: Click here to enter date.

Location: Click here to enter text.

City Council 2nd Reading: Click here to enter date.

Agenda Title:

Authorize Mayor and Finance Officer to sign a Settlement Agreement with Conrad and Reone Rupert for damage caused to trees located on their property at 6075 Sheridan Lake Road.


Click here to enter text.The Ruperts live at the base of Wildwood Drive and filed suit against the City for the death of approximately 40 trees on their property which they allege was caused by the magnesium chloride solution that the City uses on streets during snow events. The Judge ruled that due to the number of trees that were killed the damages suffered by the Ruperts were different than other landowners and the case could proceed. The Ruperts’ asserted that they were also entitled to triple damages. At trial a jury awarded the Ruperts approximately $125,000. The City appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the Circuit Court and remanded the case for a new trial. The Supreme Court found that the City was improperly prevented from introducing evidence of the property’s value and the difference in the property’s value before and after the death of the trees which was significantly less than $125,000. The Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the Ruperts were not entitled to triple damages.  In order to avoid the cost of a new trial and likely another appeal to the Supreme Court, the City, its insurer and the Ruperts agreed to mediation. Mediation achieved a proposed settlement which is reflected in the attached agreement. The settlement involves a payment of $50,000 to compensate the Ruperts for the loss of the trees and the cleanup of the dead trees. The City has also agreed to make improvements to Wildwood Drive which should resolve this issue in the future. This section of Wildwood Drive needed to be improved anyway so the work was just moved up and some additional design considerations were given to alleviate the drainage issues. The Council approved the funding for this project at its meeting on August 5, 2013. In exchange for the City’s promises the Ruperts will dismiss their lawsuit, grant easements to the City and release us from future damage claims for runoff in this location.

Funding Source & Fiscal Impact (if applicable):

 The City has already reached its deductible in this case so the payment to the Ruperts will come from the City’s insurer. The cost of the street improvements will come from the CIP Fund which the Council approved at its August 5, 2013 meeting.


Action: Choose an item. Approve

Notes:  If you do not approve the settlement agreement, the parties will proceed to trial. The expense of a second jury trial and appeal to the Supreme Court will likely exceed $50,000.



Attachments & Links:

Rupert Settlement Agreement

Click here to enter text.

Click here to enter text.

Click here to enter text.

Click here to enter text.

Click here to enter text.

Click here to enter text.

Click here to enter text.

Click here to enter text.