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Ravnsborg Settles Boever’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Well, if our Attorney General does want to go on a swan-song revenge tour investigating Governor Noem’s nepotism and exposing other corruption in South Dakota, he won’t be distracted by litigation concerning his killing of Joseph Boever. Todd Epp reports that, just one month after getting off with a guilty plea to two misdemeanor charges, Jason Ravnsborg has settled the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Boever’s widow:

Joe Boever’s widow Jenny has settled her wrongful death lawsuit with Attorney General.

That’s according to her lawyer, Matthew Tysdal, from Sioux Falls.

The settlement terms are not disclosed.

Tysdal tells News that “The parties will not have further comment, and Mrs. Boever requests that her privacy be respected going forward” [Todd Epp, “Boever’s Widow, AG Ravnsborg Settle Wrongful Death Lawsuit,” KELO Radio, 2021.09.29].

Apparently we don’t get to find out how much Jason Ravnsborg has to pay for killing a man. We can only hope that Joe Boever’s family feels they’ve received some justice… and keep up the pressure to ensure that Ravnsborg pays the public price of losing the law enforcement position for which he has demonstrated his unfitness.


  1. scott 2021-09-29

    Is there anyway to know if any state money was involved?

  2. ArloBlundt 2021-09-29

    Well…the Republicans are masters of “pitting this behind us and moving forward.” They believe cash can solve every problem.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-29

    Scott, I would think the only way state money could have been involved is if Boever sued Ravnsborg in his official capacity and if the state acknowledged that he killed Boever while carrying out official duties, which I assume would allow the state liability pool to cover the settlement. I seem to recall from earlier commentary on this issue that settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit would likely come from Ravnsborg’s private insurance.

    Campaign money isn’t state money, but we should perhaps watch Jason’s campaign finance filings to see if any money moves to Boever or to his lawyer, Tim Rensch. Ravnsborg’s last filed report shows that in 2020, a year when he was not on the ballot, his campaign fund paid out $5,000 in “salaries”. The report does not say who received those salaries. As of January 2021, Ravnsborg had $68.8K on hand in his campaign fund.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-29

    (Meanwhile, with all this action going on in Pierre, the SDGOP spin blog‘s output so far today has consisted of one quick mention of the same KELO-Epp article I cite above and five press releases from his sponsors.)

  5. O 2021-09-29

    I’m with Scott, if taxpayer money is involved, then taxpayers get to know how that money is spent.

  6. Neal 2021-09-29

    Am I wrong (I’m sure you’ll say I am) in losing some sympathy for the Boever family in light of this settlement? Seems like it’s more about the money than it is about justice. If it was about justice the family would want to thoroughly litigate this and being all the facts into the light.

    For the record, Jason should have resigned long ago.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-29

    Neal, I’m no fan of settlements. Too often, they provide cover to guilty parties and they prevent the public from knowing that justice has been served.

    At the same time, before we jump to any conclusions about the victims’ motivations, Let’s at least consider an alternative explanation to your suggestion that “it’s more about the money.” The family has just seen the most powerful lawyer in the state kill their loved one in a pretty open and shut case of distracted driving and get off with two misdemeanor traffic charges, a monetary fine, and no jail time. The states criminal justice system appears to have failed them miserably. Now they have to go to civil court and pursue justice on their own dime, or, more accurately, on thousands of dimes an hour to get lawyers to challenge that most powerful lawyer in the state in courts run by Republican judges and in front of juries who may well be majority Republican. One could make a reasonable argument from what we’ve seen happen so far that, even if the family has all the evidence it needs to objectively demonstrate that Jason wrongfully killed Joe, there’s a 50% chance that the family would lose in court and go bankrupt paying their own lawyers and Jason‘s lawyers for their trouble.

    There comes a point where our commitment to justice runs into our risk aversion and the resources we have available to fight. Jason is a putz, but he’s got a lot more resources to bring to this fight than does Joe’s family, including a parochial justice system that is stacked in his favor.

    Or, without getting into all that calculation, maybe the family worked out a simpler formula: Take a certain amount of justice now with less punishment than we may think Jason deserves, and end all the public trouble right now so the family can go back to just grieving in peace; or gamble that a court will grant more justice, more punishment as counted in dollars, but at the cost of a long, drawn out, and painful battle in a courtroom and in the media. Maybe the dollars don’t matter that much. Maybe the family just wants it all to be done, and will be satisfied knowing that Jason had to face some punishment, any punishment, more than a slap on the wrist that the criminal court gave him.

    So, Neal, I’m not going to shout “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!” at you, but I will suggest you may be a bit hasty in looking for a reason to criticize the family for taking what may be a very logical action. They lost someone they love. against that loss, the dollar figures in question, which we don’t know, are mostly meaningless and not solid ground for our criticism.

    let’s keep our moral disapproval focused on where it belongs: on Jason, who killed a man because he just couldn’t resist checking out the blogs while driving a motor vehicle And has since acted as if he should face no real consequences.

  8. grudznick 2021-09-29

    Oh, there’s probably state money involved. And when it comes to light, floggings should ensue.

  9. Porter Lansing 2021-09-29

    This shouldn’t be legal!

    No entity with the ability to bring anonymous hardship, bodily injury, and financial ruin should be allowed to enter into a contract with another entity, clearly weaker, vulnerable, and living in a unlawful state like South Dakota.

    Any threats involved in this “settlement”, Jason?


  10. ArloBlundt 2021-09-29

    Grudz–you’re righter than right…Ravensborg is an elected official and is always “on duty”, 24-7. If Mrs. Bren ‘s settlement was paid from the state “liability pool” (under the errors and omissions clause of the policy), I’m sure that the AG is covered, just like the Governor.

  11. Whitless 2021-09-30

    I am guessing the insurer was unimpressed with Jason’s claim that Boever jumped in front of his car to commit suicide and decided to settle instead. Wise decision.

  12. WillyNilly 2021-09-30

    It appears that a major stakeholder in all this was left out of the settlement… the people of South Dakota.

  13. Kyle Krause 2021-09-30

    If I had to guess, I would bet that Ravensborg’s insurance company quickly paid out his policy limits (probably half a million to a million and a half, depending on if he carried umbrella coverage) and everyone called it a day. An attorney taking on this case would almost certainly have taken it on a contingent fee, and the amount of the contingency is often higher if the case is taken to trial. That means the family would have to bank on recovering personally against Ravensborg – a guy who will soon be out of a job – to make up any difference.

    I note that the family of Joe Boever does not owe any of us a damn thing. They have been through enough, and it is not their job to pursue this matter to the ends of the earth just because Ravensborg is a public figure. They can take whatever money they received and be done if that is what they want to do. A messy public trial is not really conducive to healing. It is up to our legislature to deal with the fact that Ravensborg is still our AG.

  14. mike from iowa 2021-11-15

    This is interesting…. SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There are currently 129 inmates serving sentences for 1st degree manslaughter in South Dakota.

    Of these 129 inmates, 21 are serving life sentences. The other 108 individuals are serving sentences ranging from 5 years all the way up to 350 years.

    Oh what could have been….

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