TODAY'S CASE STUDY - CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS

Right about now the City of Grand Rapids doesn’t just want, but the City fathers think they need some of that tort reform legal stuff that all them smart doctors who listen to the Chamber keeps talking bout. You know the kind of legal maneuvering that let’s those in charge get away with not doing their jobs correctly. You know you git to do wrong to people and the Chamber makes it all right.

WHO WANTS TORT REFORM? AND WHY?

Do you ever wonder how you know when you need tort reform? You know you need tort reform when someone is injured badly after the people in charge either forgot or just didn’t do what they were supposed to do. If you work for a company or a supervisor that ignores safety, this is a good idea. Long term tort reform is your best investment if safety is an after-thought. The need for some of that tort reform seemed to start on a nice summer’s day on May 20th right there on Bridge Street NW near Fremont Avenue. The nice thing about tort reform is those who don’t do their job and who cause other people to become seriously injured or killed, don’t have to look those in the eye who pay the ultimate price. The lazy ones don’t have to explain to the widow, widower or the orphans why that innocent person was killed. You see if done according to the right legal formulas the law of tort reform assumes without any evidence or messy debate that the dead person is the one who was at fault.

"Let's decide whether we Americans want to be winners or are satisfied just being losers who appear to be winners."

Tort reform is a lot like a participation trophy. And oh how I hate participation trophies. Both are the rewards that tell the losing team they really won. They give the false impression that the loser is really a winner. Tort reform works wonderfully in this way. It gives the appearance of making winners out of losers. It’s the ultimate reward for not doing your job. Like participation trophies rewarding those who didn’t practice and improve their skills to win on the playing field, tort reform encourages those who don’t do their jobs to keep doing their jobs and to keep doing it in as poor a manner as before. Both tort reform and participation trophies lower the bar. Performance doesn’t matter only showing up for work or play. How you do your job or play your position matters little. What really matters is the appearance of being a winner. And when a profit or incompetence is your measure of winning these are all the tools you will require. Just remember one thing, only losers like participation trophies because winners want to win one. I keep wondering why business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce continue to say we need more loser trophies in American business.

"Let's decide whether we Americans want to be winners or are satisfied just being losers who appear to be winners."

I’m sorry I almost forget whey I started this blog today. It had to do with the powers-that-be in Grand Rapids and that nice summer day in May of last year. A bicyclist, Gregery Siemon was struck and killed by a city dump truck. The lawsuit brought out evidence that isn’t helping the City Fathers in Grand Rapids appear to be winners. You see that dump truck driver apparently had a few mishaps long before that fateful day when Mr. Siemons lost his life.

Branch, 61, who has worked for the city 16 years, has a history of mishaps, the attorney said.

"It's a tragedy that never should've happen as far as I'm concerned," he said in an interview.

In the lawsuit, he cited 21 incidents involving Branch dating back to 1995.

Feb. 7, 1995: Branch drove a city vehicle through a Burger King restaurant drive-thru and went too far under the overhang, striking the edge of the restaurant's roof.

Jan. 17, 1997: Branch hit a parked car with the city truck he was driving.

May 27, 1998: While driving a city truck, Branch hit another car while trying to drive around it without sufficient room.

July 20, 1998: Branch ran into a garage door when driving a city truck into the garage.

Dec. 22, 1998: Branch hit a parked car with the underbody of the city snowplow he was driving.

April 9, 2001: While driving a city vehicle, branch hit another truck, breaking a window.

June 26, 2002: Branch was driving a city paver and struck another city vehicle. The city issued him a "Letter of Instruction," reminding him of his responsibility to perform his work diligently, including "the safe operation of city equipment.

July 30, 2002: Branch was driving a city truck when he rear-ended a car that had stopped in front of him. The city issued him a "Letter of Warning II" for the incident, noting "that this is your second time occurrence within one months time and this letter is to warn you that when you are operating city equipment, you must adhere to the department's rules and regulations to avoid putting your safety and the safety of others and their property in jeopardy."

Aug. 28, 2002: Branch was driving a city vehicle when he backed over a lawn, causing lawn and mailbox damage. He was told to consider his clearances while backing up in city vehicles.

Feb. 12, 2003: Branch was snowplowing a city street when he struck a parked car.

Jan. 20, 2005: While on plow duty, Branch drove a city truck too close to a car in front of him. The car stopped, then rolled backward, hitting the city truck.

May 31, 2005: Branch backed up a city truck, striking a garbage truck and breaking its passenger window.

Aug. 17, 2005: Branch backed up a city truck and struck a pole, damaging the pole.

Oct. 10, 2005: Branch backed up a city dump truck onto the hood of a car behind him.

May 6, 2009: Two weeks before the collision that caused Greg Siemion's death, and while driving the same city dump truck, Branch rear-ended a minivan, breaking the minivan's rear window.

"Let's decide whether we Americans want to be winners or are satisfied just being losers who appear to be winners."

Tort reform stops citizens from discovering the real problems that cause injuries. And as a voter if that’s what you want then that’s what you get – a nice shiny voter participation trophy, one Made in China.

Fatal crash lawsuit cites 21 driving incidents against City of Grand Rapids driver

By John Agar | The Grand Rapids Press

January 30, 2010, 12:20AM
Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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