St. Paul has reached a settlement with the last student injured in a landslide last year in a city park that killed two of his classmates.
The city will pay Lucas Lee $20,000 for injuries he sustained in the May 22, 2013, landslide in Lilydale Regional Park that killed Mohamed Fofana and Haysem Sani and injured Devin Meldahl.
The fourth-graders from Peter Hobart Elementary School in St. Louis Park were on a school field trip when a waterlogged cliff collapsed under them as they searched for fossils.
The city does not admit fault in the settlement, said attorney John Goetz, who represents Lucas and helped the other students’ families reach settlements with the city earlier this year.
Lucas’ settlement was reached without the filing of a lawsuit and after about 30 days of negotiations, Goetz said.
“We fairly quickly negotiated a settlement with the city,” he said. “Fortunately, Lucas didn’t suffer serious physical injuries, so the modest amount of the settlement reflects that, but he did go through lots of anxiety and fear, and a good therapist helped him get through it.”
Lucas had sprained his ankle.
In March, the City Council approved a record $1 million settlement with the families of the other three boys. The families of Mohamed and Haysem each received $400,000. Devin, who was buried waist-deep for 45 minutes before he was rescued, received $200,000.
Terms of Lucas’ settlement were not immediately available. A court order to approve the settlement was filed Monday in Hennepin County District Court because a judge must approve a settlement involving a minor. The St. Paul City Council still must approve the settlement.
In May, a Hennepin County judge approved a settlement between the school district and the families of Mohamed, Haysem and Devin. Mohamed’s and Haysem’s families each received $80,000, and Meldahl’s family received $40,000. The district did not admit liability in the cases.
Lucas’ family will not seek a claim against the district, Goetz said, because they were pleased with its treatment of their son after the accident. The fossil grounds remain closed pending the results of an engineering study.