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Press Release

Hultgren Construction, L.L.C., Ordered to Dissolve & Pay Restitution to Victims of Building Collapse

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

Acting United States Attorney Dennis R. Holmes announced that Hultgren Construction, L.L.C., of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, appeared in federal court for sentencing following its conviction for Willful Violation of the Occupational, Safety, and Health Act Causing Death to an Employee.  U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier presided over the sentencing hearing. 

Hultgren Construction, L.L.C., was sentenced to 1 year of probation.  During that time, the company was ordered to dissolve and comply with all of the bankruptcy proceedings, including paying restitution to the victims of the building collapse.  The company was not fined because all of the assets were used to pay restitution to the victims.  As required by federal law, the company was also ordered to pay a $50 assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. 

According to court documents, on December 2, 2016, Hultgren Construction, L.L.C., an employer under the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, willfully violated the standards and regulations relating to instruction and training on proper demolition methods promulgated and prescribed under the Act, and said violation caused the death of Ethan McMahon.

At times relevant to this case, Hultgren Construction, L.L.C., was a company providing residential and commercial construction services throughout South Dakota, and the company employed approximately eleven (11) employees in South Dakota.  On or about and at times prior to December 2, 2016, Hultgren Construction, L.L.C., the controlling and exposing employer, did not sufficiently instruct employees in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions related to temporary shoring supporting a multi-story building.  Employees were tasked to remove two adjoining exterior load bearing walls between the ground level and first floor.  Employees were not sufficiently instructed in the means and methods for building and installing a temporary shoring system to transfer the building loads from the foundation to the shoring system.  In the morning hours of December 2, 2016, an employee was fatally injured as a result of removing the last segment of the load bearing wall, thereby causing the structure to collapse.

Hultgren Construction’s acts and omissions exhibited a plain indifference to a known and obvious hazard.  Hultgren Construction knowingly permitted employees to engage in demolition activities without sufficient training to ensure that a licensed engineering professional first prepared an engineering analysis to assess the structural stability of the building, including the planned temporary shoring systems.

This case was investigated by the Department of Labor – Office of the Solicitor, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri.

Updated December 19, 2019