These are the kind of ‘Worker Rights’ you get under one-party rule in South Dakota

Anytime I hear right wing ding bats talk about less regulation, I only hear one thing; less safety, low wages and more profits.

A KELOLAND Investigation into the Copper Lounge building collapse has discovered that the family of the construction worker, who died, Ethan McMahon, may have a difficult time pursuing a case in court against the construction company he worked for. It all has to do with Workers’ Compensation and South Dakota laws surrounding the insurance.   According to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, Hultgren Construction had a Workers’ Compensation policy for its employees. By state law, the family would have to prove intentional injury by McMahon’s employer in order to bring a lawsuit

I have actually known about these horrible anti-worker laws for a long time, but try to explain them to workers and they blurt out some kind of anti-union garbage, then buildings collapse, and everyone is wondering why families are not being properly compensated for their losses. One party rule, corruption, lack of ethics, ALEC run legislature, just to name a few, protect big business instead of the common worker.

Workers’ Compensation would provide death benefits amounting to 2/3 of McMahon’s weekly salary to any of his children through the age of 18 or 22, if they are a full-time student. McMahon was not married. If he had a spouse she would have been entitled to that benefit. Workers’ Compensation also covers up to $10,000 in funeral and burial expenses.

Oh, and also being punished for being a heathen and not being married. Nice.

Sioux Falls Emergency Manager Regan Smith says the city has created a log of is expenses, just as it would in the case of a natural disaster where it would seek reimbursement from the state or FEMA. In this case, the city will wait to see if any party is found responsible for the collapse and bill them.

So let me get this straight. When the city destroys other people’s property through bad plumbing, or inspections, they blame GOD and won’t reimburse those people, but when the city ‘thinks’ someone is responsible for causing them expenses, they send them a bill. Sounds a bit hypocritical to me? But no surprise.

There is so much dirty pool going on with this building collapse, it’s disgusting, and our city charter and state laws are not helping the matter much.

I also take issue with our mayor talking about how great our first responders are (in which they are) then turns around and screws their unions on raises and benefits. Kudos and compliments don’t buy groceries or pay insurance premiums.

So keep voting for the one-party rule, because like the day of the collapse, in the end, all we are going to find under the rubble is the little guy holding the bag once again.


#1 The D@ily Spin on 12.20.16 at 4:57 pm

Sad about this death. Sad that government doesn’t respect citizens and doesn’t compensate when they’re at fault. Time to tag city hall or (at least) urinate outside the mayor’s window?

#2 The Blogger Formerly Known as "Winston" on 12.20.16 at 5:03 pm

That is why it is imperative for our States’ Attorney and or AG to impanel a grand jury into this matter concerning possible criminal negligence by the construction company and or the developer.

A finding of just cause for an indictment by a grand jury could lay the ground work for a Workers’ Compensation claim beyond just private lawsuits involving wrongful death and or negligence per se claims.

Right now, all we have is OSHA. Without the Feds, absent a private lawsuit where private lawyers hash it out privately in most cases, the people of South Dakota have NOTHING themselves, when it comes to a matter like this.

The next time someone hates on the Feds, well, remember to tell them that in South Dakota that is often all that you have, because the boys and girls in Pierre, our “House of Lords” legislature, really do not care about the worker or the people…. Because those “Lords” are too busy fighting the implementation of ethics laws, like IM 22, so that it can be business as usual for them and obviously for the business community, too – a community which has members amongst it, that remove a low bearing wall without a permit and without regard for workers or should I say human life….

#3 Legerdemain on 12.20.16 at 9:35 pm

If there is insurance coverage, the woman who lived will probably receive more for her injuries than the family of the construction worker who died. We have the stingiest work comp laws in the nation.

#4 hornguy on 12.21.16 at 12:48 am

Regarding negligence, what you are complaining about is the inherent and customary trade-off of *all* WC policies and laws. It’s nothing unique to South Dakota.

If I, as an employee, harm myself through my own negligence while at work, my employer’s WC policy covers my medical costs and provides wage replacement. That I was responsible for my injury is not a relevant consideration in the awarding of benefits. The employer can’t sue to deny my benefits per the terms of the policy.

But in exchange, WC laws also indemnify employers from being sued for *their* negligence. This is the essence of any no-fault system.

Also, what’s required under South Dakota’s WC law is typical of other states in terms of wage amounts and survivor benefits. The only thing a bit unusual is that WC policies are still elective in South Dakota, not mandatory. So of course, an employer that chooses not to participate leaves itself wide open to being sued.

#5 Rufusx on 12.21.16 at 8:27 am

50 wrongs don’t make a right.

#6 LJL on 12.22.16 at 7:18 pm

IF you are negligent and proven to work unsafe in a unsafe manner, your workers comp will be null and void. You will not be eligible for wage continuation or medical coverage.

I know this first hand.

Our work comp laws have nothing to do with politics. Mr. Mcmahons family will be able to sue as his employer did not seek engineering guidance or municipal permits.
This will be quickly settled.

#7 The Blogger Formerly Known as "Winston" on 12.23.16 at 12:37 am


I do not disagree with your conclusion, however, there needs to be a public remedy, too, and only a grand jury can offer that.

Given the circumstances with the apparent low bearing wall, which was removed without a permit based on the initial Facebook posting, a tort remedy will only financially punish the defendant, but not necessary persuade others in the future from doing something like that. A criminal indictment, however, will prove that the system works and that no one is above the law.

#8 LJL on 12.23.16 at 11:10 pm

Criminal intent is a not an option unless their are sinister facts we dont know about. Criminal negligence would be a very tough to prove as well.