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St. Paul approves $1 million settlement for Lilydale landslide victims

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The St. Paul City Council has approved a $1 million settlement to the families of two children who were killed and one who was injured in a landslide at Lilydale Regional Park last May, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Haysem Sani, 9, and Mohamed Fofana, 10, were killed in the May 22, 2013 landslide. Their families will each receive $400,000. Devin Meldahl, 10, suffered skull, leg and rib fractures. His family will receive $200,000, according to the Pioneer Press.

The settlement was reached after the families had filed notice that they intended to sue the city.

The agreement states, “It is understood and agreed that this settlement is the compromise of doubtful and disputed claims and that payments made hereto are not to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of the City of St. Paul, and that the City of St. Paul denies liability therefore and intends merely to avoid litigation and buy its peace,” according to the Pioneer Press.

The children, all students at Peter Hobart Elementary School in St. Louis Park, were gathering fossils when a bluffside of rain-soaked sand and broken shale collapsed on them. They were swept into a hole, which then filled with water, WCCO reports.

Following the incident, the city commissioned two independent investigations, which concluded officials were aware of past landslides, but the failure of the saturated slopes couldn’t have been predicted.

The areas of the park where the landslide occurred remain closed to the public.

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