Today’s blog is about a little bit of this and a little bit of that. If you think personal injury law is boring then you don’t know the business of law or haven't met the people involved. No one can say that practicing personal injury law isn’t interesting, because it is never the same set of facts. Today we will see a myriad of factual puzzles presented by the American public as they get into situations causing injury, death and damage to themselves and to others. I get to blog about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, animal body parts, an aspiring actor, due-it-yourself veterinary surgery, some of the dangers of being a fireman and how not to be a do-it-yourself-lawyer.   

I’m trying to play catch-up with some of the latest personal injury news from around the Midwest, especially Iowa and as far north, south, east and west as I can get on I-35 and I-80.

Blanchardville, WisconsinIowa CountyBoston Legal actor, Justin Mentell, 27 of Waukegan, Illinois died in a one-vehicle collision after his jeep went down a steep embankment off of Wisconsin Highway 39 north of Blanchardville. Seems it happened some time around 3:00 a.m. but he wasn’t discovered until around 8:30 a.m. No seat belt was worn. Police ruled out alcohol as a contributing factor. So if you’re like me you’re wondering which guy was he on Boston Legal. He was Garrett Wells, an attorney on ABC’s Boston Legal. His Jeep was discovered by a local Wisconsin farmer.

Brain Injury News - New York - From the AP – A story in US Today about states of awareness in “vegetative brain-injured patients” being measured through use of what’s called functional MRI scans. These tests are designated as fMRI. This is fascinating to say the least. Here is a quote that exemplifies the issues.

The 29-year-old, who had been injured in a traffic accident, was asked simple questions about his life, such as "Is your father's name Alexander?" He was told to answer "yes" or "no" by thinking about one or the other of the imagined scenes about playing tennis or navigating streets or his home. For five of the six questions, his brain activity matched the correct answer.”

Barrington, Rhode Island – A story from the WPRI-TV describes a 63-year-old disable man living on Social Security who couldn’t afford veterinary services for his dog did the surgery himself. Apparently the dog developed infection following the first surgery to remove the cyst in the 14-year-old dog’s leg. The Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is quote as calling the surgery a “heinous crime.” Oh come on leave the old guy alone. At least he didn’t abandon the dog.

St. Cloud, Minnesota – I-94 - A crash between a Clearwater fire truck crew and a car whose driver didn’t realize traffic had stopped resulted in a collision after she chose to veer away from the rear-ender and towards the fire crew. The young firefighter, Cory S. Broich, 28-years-old sustained two broken legs in the ensuing crash. The fire crew had responded to a vehicle fire. The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 around 7:17 a.m. The firefighter was airlifted to the hospital in St. Cloud and was listed in critical condition.

Secaucus, New JerseyLefty-Righty School for Surgeons - Wrong-site surgeon back is reported to have been found guilty of wrong-site surgery, then of altering the medical records and lying to the patient to cover it up was fined $80,000, suspended for six-months and on probation from Dec. 2008 to June 2010 has been granted privileges to resume practice. I’m not sure what to say about this, because the details are pretty important to know if he’s been rehabilitated. Where do they send doctors for wrong-site surgery rehab? Would it be back to Kindergarten to learn lefty-righty? My guess is if you want to stop wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient surgeries just pass a law requiring disclosure to patients that the physician has performed a wrong-site surgery. Can you imagine the conversation and the restraint on their ability to attract surgical patients? I’d say the burden would then clearly be on the surgeon to not have a wrong-site surgery. Let the market straighten out the problem. “Oh you’ve done a previous surgery to a patient’s wrong side? Well I’ll get back to you if I still need you to do the surgery. Honey bring me the phone book I need to find another surgeon.” Now that’s a consumer demand driven solution.

Bondurant, Iowa – A rendering truck driver pushing on the brakes too hard caused animal body parts to spill out onto Iowa Highway 30 on the diagonal between Marshalltown and Altoona. The clean up took over an hour. The spill created a slippery situation for anyone using the road in that location. So if you’re out and in the vicinity of …. Hmmmmm seems they didn’t tell us where it happened just that it was at a stop light. It would appear the exact location would be an important fact.

Dubuque, Iowa – U.S. 52 Dubuque County, Iowa – Dubuque Truck Driver Finds Himself in Sticky Situation - Finally a story about PB & J! – Wow I’ve never been able to write a story about a personal injury accident having to do with peanut butter and jelly; not in thirty years. But today I do. This must be a special day. A truck loaded with 24,000 pounds of PB&J sandwiches, that’s a lot of bread, overturned after the truck’s tire caught the road edge, the driver overcorrected and the truck flipped onto its side. The driver Robert Greser of Dunlap was hauling the PB&J’s from Dubuque to St. Paul. Oh boy there must be a bunch of unhappy school kids. Maybe they were intended for a prison?  The officer indicated he would be cited for failure to maintain control. Good luck finding a lawyer to get you out of that jam.

Des Moines, Iowa – Polk County – When is not playing lawyer a good idea? In this story a Des Moines man charged with allegedly kidnapping, burglary and sexual abuse acted as his own counsel. Who says being a judge can't be fun. Dressed in a traditional cotton orange-with-white-striped blouse and matching cotton slacks, belly chains and accessorized with shimmering shackles he demonstrated over a five-hour hearing why being inside the bar requires an undergraduate degree and three years of law school education along with passing the Iowa Bar exam. Throw in years of practicing the law, reading cases and working on those people skills all accounts for something when forging the necessary skills required of an Iowa trial lawyer.  From the Des Moines Register we learned:

“The testimony came during a bizarre five-hour court hearing in which Hays - acting as his own lawyer - called for the case prosecutors to be disbarred, interrupted witnesses, and asked himself questions on the stand.

At one point, when Assistant Polk County Attorney Jeffrey Noble asked what he remembered about the night of the alleged rape, Hays replied: "That's none of your business."

Well I hate to be the one to tell you but that is the point here. Trial is scheduled for April 5th in Polk County District Court. I’ll bet the presiding judge can’t wait for this one to begin.

Boone, Iowa – What’s going on in Boone High School that the girl’s basketball coach and his assistant resigned? What’s the confidential personnel matter that no one is talking about?

So in conclusion I’m wondering if I should open a DIY lawsuit appliance store called Lawes or Home Depo? I’m thinking of organizing the departments by the pieces of litigation a lawyer needs and naming the separate departments’ wiring for depositions, locking into discovery, toolboxes for pleadings, jumper cable jury instructions, post hole pre-trial motions and next to nuts and bolts litigation tools we can have loose screws and too-tight nuts.

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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