In Clausen v. Aberdeen Grain Inspection, Inc. and South Dakota Wheatgrowers Assoc., 1999 S.D. 66, 594 N.W.2d 718, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled in favor of our client in a wrongful death action. Clausen was commenced after our client’s husband died after falling while removing grain samples from atop a railcar. The Trial Court dismissed the claims against Aberdeen Grain Inspection and South Dakota Wheatgrowers, holding they owed no duty to the decedent because he was an independent contractor.
On appeal, the South Dakota Supreme Court reversed the Trial Court’s decision as to Aberdeen Grain Inspection. According to the Court, “it is clear that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether AGI retained any control over [the decedent] as to remove it from the general rule of employer non-liability.” The first jury trial on the claim against Aberdeen Grain Inspection resulted in a hung jury, and the matter settled favorably before the second trial.