Should Sioux Falls residents that have sustained vehicle damage from potholes file a Class Action?

Various online reports are coming in that hundreds of cars in Sioux Falls have received expensive damage from potholes. That seems a real slap in the face, as we pay taxes not only to make sure our roads are well maintained, but that our roads are also safe. If many of the roads are no longer safe to navigate, does that give taxpayers grounds for legal recourse?

A similar situation arose a few years ago, when several homeowners sued the city in a class action suit to pay for sewer backups and won. Since the plaintiffs had to divide the compensatory judgment, they each probably didn’t get enough money back to cover repairs, but it was better than a kick in the teeth. One recipient told me he recovered about half of his damages.

I’m not an attorney, so I’m not sure why the class action lawsuit approach was used in that example. But, if appropriate for that event, should citizens ban together on this shared loss/pothole damage situation as well?

FF: 1:25:15

I started thinking about this when I watched last night’s city council meeting and debate on whether to fund pothole repair with a supplemental appropriation of $500K, an idea councilors Starr and Stehly cooked up. It had merit, and after their press conference to announce it last week – SURPRISE – the city finally responded by announcing at least a “ramped up” asphalt hot mix pothole repair crew schedule. 

No doubt we are in an unprecedented, emergency pothole situation here. More than one city manager and/or elected official admitted as much. But, that didn’t stop councilors who loathe Stehly to argue against it by wrapping themselves in “You can’t fight mother nature”, and more lame retorts.

Neitzert claimed that Theresa and Pat were accusing city employees of not working hard enough. Starr countered that additional funding could pay for relief manpower for reportedly overworked street department crews. Kiley suggested we all just “slow down a bit” and leave ourselves more time to reach our destinations. I guess he wants all 9 to 5-ers to drive 5 MPH to work, huh? Starr remarked he’d recently followed a police car weaving down the road avoiding potholes on routine patrol, and pondered how that impacted the officer’s attention to traffic safety in his immediate proximity and to his police radio. Should fire trucks and ambulances drive slower too, Councilor Kiley?

Councilor Soehl was angry because Stehly didn’t consult ‘experts’ and asked how she knew there was an issue requiring more resources. Apparently Soehl must drive a hover craft, jet pack or helicopter everywhere. Stehly reminded him that it was self-evident there is a problem – the “experts” she was hearing from were concerned constituents and drivers suffering pothole related losses. It’s like the old adage, “You want it fast, good or cheap? Pick two.” In this instance, we need pothole relief fast and good, so that requires more money. Pretty simple. 

As I have mentioned before, Germany and several other European countries warranty their roads and make contractors responsible for repairs, as well as research and development. They have the smoothest roads in the world. So, maybe just the weather isn’t to blame for our fragile roads; maybe it’s how we build ‘em. It has always perplexed me that we pay out bonuses for getting road projects done ahead of schedule, which rewards the potential for shortcuts and mistakes. I feel you give a contractor a due date, and if they don’t hit it, they get docked pay. But, there should not be bonuses for beating a deadline, other than perhaps for rebuilding a major essential metro freeway bridge knocked down in an earthquake – not a likely scenario around here. And like I mentioned above, a road should be warranted like other goods and services which are exchanged for fees. Of course, this would make roads cost more, but as many have been asking, “What do we pay our taxes for?” Taxpayers deserve serviceable and durable infrastructure for the various taxes they pay on what they own, many of which overlap as in the case of automobiles. 

So, you have a least 4 council members mortified at the proposal of a $500k infrastructure repair supplement to the budget (that if not used goes back in the 2nd penny fund), yet a few years ago the council didn’t blink an eye in GIVING (not a loan) $500K to the Huether Tennis Match Pointe with no accountability to the public. In fact, since it’s inception, nobody knows what the payback has been from that place, and there has been no yearly reports. On top of that, the Huether Tennis Temple selfishly won’t allow taxpaying citizens using the Sanford Sports Complex to use the tennis parking lot during major Sanford events! So what is more important: potholes & road safety. . . or indoor tennis? Five councilors seem to have the answer to that question. It’s just not the right one.

Here is a copy of the Mayor’s Emergency Declaration; EO 211

I also noticed last night that Council Chair Erickson had a personal plea on FB to have people help her sandbag her rental properties. I suggest Erickson help out the local economy and go down to People Ready and hire some temps, or maybe go over to Moonlight Massage and see if any of the immigrants would like to earn a little extra cash. I know it is not the kind of work they are used to, but it’s a little less dirty,

Click to enlarge




#1 D@ily Spin on 03.21.19 at 9:16 am

It’s not worth impeaching Trump this close to the end of his term. Similarly, the city has a couple dozen legal employees and millions involved in contracting private law firms. If you seek legal recourse, they’ll wear you down for 5 years while your car is being destroyed and you can’t afford another because of your legal expenses.

#2 D@ily Spin on 03.21.19 at 9:38 am

At some point people must realize the city doesn’t represent citizens. It’s organized crime that takes in taxes to spread amongst unqualified overpriced insider contractors. City leaders are overpaid but also receive kickbacks from criminal contractors. Streets are so bad the city can go ahead and award overpriced contracts to the same Nebraska company that manages the golf courses. We need the jobs but we’ll let you rip us off so we can get trucks down streets for our move to a neighboring city.

#3 Livin on the teet of guberment on 03.21.19 at 10:08 am

Tuesday night showed one thing, today’s gubernment is only for the elite types and their needs,
just look at the way nietzert has turned his back on everything he campainged on,
how sellberg just sits and does what ever he is told to do by his masters,
former union member soehl has rejected his supposed beliefs we union supporters worked for,
kiley just wants to ride around in his convertible and pretend he is cool and is powerful,
and then we have christine who can’t seem to remember what her name is, is she married or not, is she her brother or not, other than lining her pocket what does she stand for, begging her friends to go get sandbags to protect her property once again shows she wants the guberment is there to protect her,
combine all of this with a disastrous mayor office becoming a political party headquarters to promote a potential federal office run for the holder,
Tuesday shows we have a very out of touch city gubernment promoting themselves at our expense be it ego or financial they are a mess
what is wrong with stehly star or janet bringing issues forward for a discussion thats why we elected them

#4 Matthew Paulson on 03.21.19 at 12:07 pm

It’s good that Pat and Theresa brought attention to the pot hole issue, but I don’t understand why the city would do a supplemental appropriation when the city hasn’t exhausted its budget. The city said they’ve spent 8% of their pot-hole budget. If they had spend 100% of their budget, a supplemental appropriation would make sense.

#5 l3wis on 03.21.19 at 12:16 pm

MP – The bigger question is why not approve it? If the money isn’t used it just goes back in the CIP. No harm no foul.

#6 l3wis on 03.21.19 at 12:17 pm

I guess Erickson had a dumpster of sandbags delivered to her neighborhood of concern. Not sure if she had a private contractor deliver it or not.

#7 scott on 03.21.19 at 2:42 pm

i guess if the summit league and state tourney’s actually brought people into town to shop, eat, drink, etc then the city would’ve done a better job fixing up the pot holes. since it’s mostly the locals attending, then tough darts farmer.

#8 Erica on 03.21.19 at 3:40 pm

DS, what the hell does Trump have to do with any of this? *smh*

The roads here are horrendous and I am glad to see Theresa Stehly and Pat Starr at least represent their constituents well unlike the rest of the lot. The city should be held responsible as they have been very irresponsible on handling the matter in the first place by putting other things above priority of maintaining roads & infastructure. Theyvwant to build uo the city as fast as they can for more tax $ but dont care about providing people with their tax moneies worth.

#9 Blasphemo on 03.21.19 at 11:54 pm

Matthew Paulson: the “pothole budget” was created to deal with an average season of potholes, with the same methods and resources the city has used in recent years, on the same average weather calendar schedule the city always uses. 2019 has proven to be an EXTREME year for damage to the streets. The acuteness of the situation caused by the unusual if not rare collision of weather events of recent weeks demands rapid relief for drivers. The appropriate response of spending more $$ now to facilitate a more rapid response should undoubtedly cause a budget for average expenses to be exhausted before the end of the fiscal year. An appropriation NOW – however “symbolic” it would have proven to be if unused – would have sent a reassuring message of City Hall properly recognizing the severity of the problem and responsiveness to the needs which residents have previously emphasized as a high priority. Validating the opposition arguments from Tuesday night’s vote reinforces what’s already very clear, MP: what you serve up at your 1m cups isn’t caffeine, it’s elitistberry Kool-Aid.