The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
Here at the Lombardi Law Firm we add blog content that is personal to those involved in accidents. We write this way so you have an understanding of how we think and handle cases - your case. We invite you to call us if you think we can help you resolve your legal problems. We settle most of our cases, because we do the basic legal work necessary to understand the facts of your case. We offer on our website, relevant and concise information that you will be helpful to you as you get ready to settle or to try your case.
We can and will do the same for you. That's my promise. So call us today!
Steve Lombardi, 515-222-1110 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeffrey Drahn was walking on Highway 52 on March 15, 2009 when he was struck by an unidentified vehicle. He was found the following morning by an unidentified school bus driver.
There still doesn’t appear to be any arrest in this incident. The vehicle that struck Drahn still hasn’t been located or the driver found.
Victim in Ditch is Des Moines Man, The Des Moines Register
Body Found in Ditch near Calmar Identified, The Gazette Online
If you have information call the Iowa State Patrol, the Linn County Sheriff or the Calmar Police Department.
Linn County Sheriff's Office
P.O. Box 669
310 2nd Avenue SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406
» Contact By Email
The Iowa State Patrol Headquarters is located at:
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Phone: (515) 725-6090
Calmar, Calmar Police Department
Allow a lawyer to help you do what is right. See a local lawyer for assistance with turning yourself in to law enforcement.
On March 14th 2009 Lisa Marie Adams (17), Joseph Daniel Widmer (18), and Brendt Michael Fetzer were headed Westbound on 340th and lost control entering the South ditch and rolled. Lisa Marie Adams died from the resulting injuries, while Joseph was taken by Aircare to the hospital. An investigation is ongoing. No indication if Adams was wearing a seatbelt.
The time of the crash was 2:55 A.M. at 340TH ST W OF HALF MOON AVE in Johnson County. Eighteen year old Joseph Widmer was taken by helicopter to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The investigation will likely focus on the toxicology analysis conducted on the decedent, Lisa Adams. First they will examine her blood alcohol content to determine if she had been drinking and was legally intoxicated. The officers have likely interviewed the other passengers to determine where they had been and were heading. Also the contents of the vehicle will be examined to determine if there are any clues that will help explain things. Are there liquor bottles or store receipts with times and contents purchased? Empty, open and full bottles can often time give clues. Drugs in the vehicle can correlate with blood analysis. Measurements of the tread depth on each tire will be made and along with road surface and weather conditions will be correlated for friction factors. The crush depth of the car, skid mark lengths and impact will be examined to determine speed of the vehicle. The speedometer will be looked at and photographed to see if it stopped on any speed.
Today let's take yesterday's post, Construction Safety: Fellow construction worker killed by crane operation to a new level by examining how trial lawyers would go one step further to understanding crane stabilization systems.
The crane’s front outriggers began to suddenly sink into the ground which caused the crane and its boom to fall forward into a wall. As construction workers shouted warnings a welder with his mask on was unable to hear and was killed by the falling boom.
Crane outriggers are part of a crane’s stabilization system. For a good explanation see the diagrams and photographs or outriggers at How Stuff Works.
“The outriggers are only one mechanism used to balance the crane during lifting operations. There are also detachable counterweights that can be placed on the back of the crane on the underside of the cab. These counterweights prevent the crane from tipping forward during operation. The amount of counterweight needed for a particular lift is determined by the weight of the load, the radius of the boom and the boom's angle during operation. The 70-ton Link-Belt truck crane has counterweights that come in 4,000-pound (1,814-kg) sections. Counterweights are only used during lifts; they have to be removed before the truck can be driven. “ www.HowStuffWorks.com
Other more detailed information can be gleened from patent applications where inventors describe the shortcomings of previous patented models and benefits to be obtained from their invention. Trial lawyers are smart to learn this technique of investigation. The outrigger on a crane is a good opportunity to see how this works for a case to determine was it the crane operator or a defective product, or both, that caused the crane to sink. In other words was it unstable ground or a faulty set-up as opposed to a failure of the outrigger or just a poor design. The patent application can also provide you with an understanding of what it is you’re going to be dealing with in this case and how to plead the case. As trial lawyers we don’t know everything there is to know. We are constantly learning so having an inquisitive mind is a good thing. Of course the law is a jealous mistress so be prepared to always be getting prepared. Here is the patent application.
Outriggers for use with mobile cranes and other similar apparatus are necessary to stabilize the crane during lifting operations. Specifically, the outriggers include jacking cylinders with ground engaging pads mounted on opposed laterally extendable support beams. These beams are extended to position the jacking cylinders outwardly in spaced positions with respect
to the vehicle chassis. The jacking cylinders are then extended to bring the pads into engagement with the ground, and raise the vehicle so that the wheel assemblies are lifted from the ground. The full weight of the crane is then supported through the outriggers. Advantageously, the wide spacing of the jacking cylinders and pads serves to provide the required side-to-side stability. Typically, a large mobile crane requires two outrigger units, one attached near the rear of the vehicle frame, the other towards the front. Accordingly, good fore/aft stability is also provided.
As the lifting capacity of the crane is increased, so too is the weight of the crane. Accordingly, the outrigger units must be fabricated for greater strength. This necessitates the utilization of stronger, heavier support beams, elongated frame and reinforcements. As a result, the weight of the outriggers also increases. This increase in outrigger weight, added to the already massive mobile crane weight, presents a well known problem. That is, the largest mobile cranes with outriggers can no longer comply with road weight restrictions in many jurisdictions.
As a result, it has become necessary on these larger cranes to use outriggers that are removable from the vehicle frame. These outrigger units are then transported over-the-road separately, usually on low-boy trailers. Because the front and rear outriggers can weigh up to 20,000
-22,000 lbs., and are generally unwieldy due to their relatively long length, it has proven difficult in the past to efficiently handle them. A key handling concern is the amount of turn-around time required for removal at one working site, and the reattachment at the next working site.
It is already known to construct both the front and rear outrigger units with an elongated box frame that can be securely attached to the vehicle frame and with internal hydraulic cylinders to extend and retract the support beams. Removable lock pins extend through mated apertures in the box and vehicle frames and this provides a significant advancement in the overall handling and attachment process. In fact, cranes with this type of removable outrigger units with removable lock pins have become commonplace in the construction equipment industry in recent years.
Despite the advantage provided by the outrigger units that are securely attached by lock pins, other advances in handling have been slow in coming. The considerable handling drawbacks coincident with the use of these removable outrigger units have had a significant adverse effect on sales of these units. The industry in general has heretofore simply found them to be very difficult to handle; i.e. it is too tedious and time consuming a task to both remove them from, and then reattach them to the vehicle.
Attachment is typically accomplished in three steps. First, using the cable and live mast of the crane or some separate, attendant crane, the outrigger unit is properly positioned with respect to the vehicle frame. This positioning is especially difficult when manipulating the front outrigger that is located under and attached to, the underside of the vehicle. The second step is to manually align apertures in the outrigger and vehicle frame that accommodate the securing lock pins. The large mass and inertia of the outrigger complicates the handling as this alignment takes place. Such a fine adjustment is particularly difficult to make under adverse weather conditions, such as high winds, rain and/or cold temperatures. In the final stages of alignment, the prior art outrigger
units simply defy precise positioning. Inevitably the process requires a two or three man crew for manual intervention to push and pull on the unit for an inordinate amount of timer as it swings back and forth suspended by the crane.
Many small town lawyers have local residents approach them about taking their personal injury case. In many instances the lawyer may hesitate but the challenge seems like something that would spice up their otherwise mundane small county practice. So they sign the client up. But after ordering the accident investigation report they don’t know which way to turn or what to do. Not wanting to tell the client they don’t have the experience to know where to turn they end up holding the file and doing nothing. Time passes, like it always does, and the file gathers dust as it sits on the corner of their desk. The file being ever present is nothing more than a hindrance to the lawyer because it’s a constant subconscious reminder of what they aren’t doing. Well speed up about almost two years and I’ll get a frantic call from the local attorney wanting to associated with me on this otherwise good personal injury case. The accident scene is now barren of any evidence. The witnesses memories get as cold as a glacier’s surface. And any evidence that was available is now history. There’s a brief description by the police officer but nothing more.
As I watched the news last night I couldn’t help but see the wrecked van heading to Marshalltown with nine passengers. The television news report showed the van all mangled and some people described as relatives of the victims, one died, walking around the scene. This was described as a one-vehicle rollover type accident. Well being a civil trial lawyer and having some knowledge of rollover type accidents, remember the Firestone tire controversy, I said to Barbara, “I’ll bet it’s a tire failure.” Sure enough the next clip of the scene shows a separated tire tread lying on the ground. Normally I stop thinking about it because of the number I see but not this one.
You see it’s easy to ignore the case thinking you’ll get to it. But whatever lawyer gets this case or if the Iowa State Patrol thinks about it, someone needs to secure the tires and the separated tread. In cases like this it’s important the lawyer secure as much of the physical evidence as is available and promptly. Besides securing the physical evidence have the garage mechanic mark each tire with chalk to show from which wheel it was taken; i.e., which location of the vehicle it was attached. (front driver’s side, passenger front seat, driver’s side rear, passenger side rear) It may seem like a little thing but words chosen to describe location have to be obvious from the description chosen. Any ambiguity in the location creates argument later in the case.
If evidence is taken directly from the scene, use markers to photograph the location of where the physical evidence was located at the scene. Mark, measure and photograph all skid marks.
You may wonder how I know all of this. Well I do have 27 years of practicing as a civil trial lawyer. But in law school I worked my way through school and was a private investigator. In addition we investigated such a case in northern Wisconsin where the mechanic was interviewed and disclosed he’d mixed up the tires when he marked them. Luckily he’d marked them in such as way as to recall in what order and location they were removed. That sequence jogged his memory making him realize his mistake in the markings. That placed the blown tire on the opposite side of the vehicle from which he originally reported. This is a difficult enough business without having it complicated by a delay that destroys evidence.
So be prompt in securing physical evidence and be clear about how the pieces are cataloged and where at the scene they were located. And if you’re going to sooner or later refer or associate on the case do it the day you get the case, not a week before the statute of limitations is about to run.
This past week I discussed legal accident investigations and that referring attorneys need to consider acting sooner rather than later, to refer cases to more experienced counsel. The subject came to mind when a local TV station reported on a van rollover incident showing a separated tread from what was assumed to be from one of the tires. Lawyer to Lawyer Toolbox – Accident Investigation – What do I do with this case? Joe Saunders commented and even added a post discussing his experience, a post that should also be read. Steve Lombardi’s Piece on Accident Investigation Spot On.
There are good reasons for this one of which is pointed out by the ISP accident investigation report filed. This is a case of tread separation which caused the tire to fail and may have lead to the rollover and crash. Below is the NARRATIVE from the Iowa State Patrol officer, Larson.
VEHICLE 1 WAS TRAVELING NB ON HWY 65. VEHICLE 1 SUFFERED A RIGHT REAR TIRE SEPARATION, WHICH CAUSED VEHICLE 1 TO GO OUT OF CONTROL. VEHICLE 1 SLID SIDEWAYS IN COUNTER-CLOCKISE DIRECTION AND ROLLED INTO THE MEDIAN. VEHICLE 1 CAME TO REST ON IT'S LEFT SIDE FACING A SOUTHEASTERLY DIRECTION. ONE PERSON WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE 1 DURING THE ROLLING OF VEHICLE AND CAME TO REST ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY 65 SOUTHBOUND LANES.
The reason for this post is to warn those involved to get that failed tire and to immediately conduct their investigation to secure the separated tire. If not there will be no way to prove this case and that’s the point to attorneys. Don’t take cases where you get in over your head, then delay calling in others with more experience. There are plenty of experienced attorneys in the Des Moines area that can assist. With eight people injured there may not be enough insurance coverage on the vehicle.
So act quickly and decisively.