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Aurora Co. not accountable for fatal crash, Supreme Court says

Aurora County was not responsible for repairing a sign that was blamed for a crash leading to a Mount Vernon man's death in 2010, the South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled.

Aurora County was not responsible for repairing a sign that was blamed for a crash leading to a Mount Vernon man's death in 2010, the South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled.

On Sept. 30, 2010, Travis Naser, 45, died in a one-vehicle crash at the dead-end intersection of 268th Street in Aurora County and 392nd Avenue in Douglas County. The vehicle was driven by Lowell Langstraat.

Naser's wife, Lynn Foster-Naser, brought suit against Aurora and Douglas counties because a double-arrow sign on 268th Street was not properly maintained, so Langstraat was not given warning that the intersection required a sharp right or left turn, according to the Supreme Court ruling.

The circuit court granted summary judgment, in which a ruling is made without a jury, to Aurora County, saying the county did not owe a duty to maintain the sign. Foster-Naser appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court. The status of the suit against Douglas County is unknown.

Aurora County argued 268th Street was a township road, so sign maintenance was the responsibility of Aurora Township. The county admitted to making an oral agreement with the township to blade gravel and plow snow from the road, because the township did not have the necessary equipment, but the county never agreed to repair signage.

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In a decision published on Jan. 27, the Supreme Court upheld the circuit court's decision, saying the appellant did not provide "sufficient probative evidence" that the agreement required the county to maintain road signs.

"From our review of the record in a light most favorable to Foster-Naser, there is no evidence that the county orally agreed to assume full control over the township's road maintenance duties," the decision said.

The Supreme Court determined the circuit court did not err in either granting summary judgment or rejecting Foster-Naser's claim that "road maintenance" includes sign maintenance "as a matter of law."

Related Topics: U.S. SUPREME COURTCRASHES
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