“Every family, every survivor was hardworking, strong. These are the kinds of people I like to represent.”
At first mention, $36.6 million sounds like a lot of money. But try dividing that sum among the 179 eligible victims of the 35W bridge collapse and the amount quickly starts to look much smaller. That was the daunting task that faced attorney Susan Holden, chair of the Special Master Panel appointed by the state legislature to administer compensation for survivors of the collapse.
179 Claims Filed For Bridge Collapse Victims
Stories of loss and trauma were arriving by the box load at attorney Susan Holden's Minneapolis office all day Wednesday, the deadline for people to apply for damages from a $36.64 million fund allocated by the Legislature last year for victims of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse.
Holden is the chairwoman of a panel of seasoned personal injury attorneys appointed last spring to distribute damages for claims ranging from property loss to personal injury to death.
"This is an important part of the process, to tell their story of what happened and how it's affected their lives."
At a time when most people's bookshelves are stacked with whodunits, Susan Holden is reading with What is Life Worth?, the memoir by the man who managed the Sept. 11 victims' fund.
The book, and the question, hold a particular interest for Holden, chairwoman of the special master panel to compensate victims of the 35W bridge collapse.
MSBA President Brian Melendez bestowed the prestigious President's Award on one of his predecessors, Minneapolis attorney Susan Holden. Ironically, given the honor's name, it's unprecedented for a former MSBA president to receive the award.
The families of four young adults killed in a horrific train-car accident nearly five years ago were awarded $24 million by an Anoka County District Court jury that rejected earlier suggestions the victims had tried to beat a train to the crossing.
In its ruling, the jury determined Burlington Northern Santa Fe was 90 percent responsible for the crash and the driver was 10 percent responsible, said Bill Bongard, who represented the Rhoades family of Blaine.
The Lakeville Police Department teamed with the SiebenCarey law office in Lakeville for a community service project called "Show You Care, Give A Bear."
It's an unfortunate reality that children are sometimes caught in the middle of difficult adult situations. Even worse still, sometimes those events require police intervention.Whenever possible, the Lakeville Police Department has tried to ease a child's mind with a simple but effective gift: a teddy bear.
A need for legislation requiring an insurance company to act in good faith
Danny Nelson and his lawyer, Jeffrey Sieben of Minneapolis, think Nelson got a raw deal from his insurance company. Nelson, a 44-year-old bricklayer, was seriously injured in a car accident. Having suffered injuries to his femur necessitating a future hip replacement and causing recurring health issues, Nelson asked his insurer to pay the $100,000 in underinsured motorist benefits provided for in his auto policy. The insurance company initially offered to pay half, ultimately upping its offer to $75,000 just before trial. Rather than settling the case for $25,000 less than he thought he was entitled to, Nelson opted to go to trial. After hearing the facts, the jury returned a verdict of $793,000.
Despite the highly favorable trial result, the insurer had to pay just $120,000 - the $100,000 policy limit, plus another $20,000 in taxable costs. Both Nelson and Sieben feel that the only reason that the insurance company offered less than it was liable for was that it knew there was little consequence for its conduct.
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) 67th annual state convention
One of the breakout sessions from this year's state convention, was presented by attorney Jeffrey Sieben of SiebenCarey. Jeff's presentation focused on ways to prevent farming injuries. Mr. Sieben is one of the Minneapolis-based firm's personal injury and wrongful death attorneys, and has helped many injured Minnesota residents get the compensation they deserve from those at fault.
Joe Harlow, who drowned with Dave Yasis in a downpour last July, was wrongly put in a dangerous situation.
The family of one of the two sewer workers who died in July after being swept from St. Paul's storm tunnels into the Mississippi River has filed a wrongful-death suit against the city and the firm hired to oversee work in the tunnels.
Joe Harlow and Dave Yasis were killed when a sudden downpour swept them away before they could climb up a sewer shaft in the Frogtown neighborhood.
"I was near dead and they had given me up for dead."
After a serious car crash, Elise Capp was left in a coma. Capp and her friend, Eugene Capp, the cousin of her deceased husband, were traveling to the airport on their way to Pasadena California, for the Tournament of Roses Parade. Capp saw a vehicle in the other lane start to slide toward them.
"I said to Gene, 'something's coming here,'" Capp said. "Those were the last words I said. I heard the crash. I don't remember too much after that."
A Hennepin County jury has awarded $1.57 million to a father who lost two sons in a car accident. Originally offered $5,000 by Progressive Insurance for the life of each son, Charles Dack took his case to a jury.
Charles Dack's story is just another example of why a good faith law is needed in Minnesota
The Minnesota Association for Justice is taking advantage of a recent jury verdict in Hennepin County to make its point regarding the need for a good faith law in Minnesota. The plaintiff in the case, Charles Dack, lost two young sons in a car accident. When Progressive Insurance offered only $5,000 for each son, Dack took the case to a jury, which awarded him $1.57 million.
Insurance company offers $10,000, jury awards $1.57 million
Jury awarded $1.57 million to a father who lost two sons in a car accident. Originally offered $5,000 by Progressive Insurance for the life of each son, Charles Dack took his case to a jury that agreed that the offer was unacceptable. Progressive offered to settle for far less than the family's policy was worth.
Minnesota State Bar Association Awarded Harrison Tweed Award
Minneapolis attorney Susan Holden, past president of the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA), was in Hawaii last week to accept the Harrison Tweed Award which the bar group earned for its efforts to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The Harrison Tweed Award recognizes the extraordinary achievements of state and local bar associations that develop or significantly expand projects or programs to increase access to civil legal services for poor persons or criminal defense services for indigents.
Angela Mathison and Sari Evanston first crossed paths in the worst possible way.
Mathison, her husband, Brent, and their 10-week-old daughter, Annika, were traveling north on Hwy. 169 to their home in Elk River when a yellow car barreled across the median and hit their pickup head-on. Brent was killed, Angela received serious leg injuries and Annika, their only child, had severe head injuries despite being secured carefully in the rear seat.
In the yellow car, Sari Evanston, lay in shock, bones in her feet and ankles broken, ligaments torn. But the pain of her injuries was nothing compared with that in her heart. The crash was her fault. She had been going 78 miles per hour in a 65-mph zone.
Law Day at the Capitol
In 1958 President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1 as Law Day. It is a special day of celebration set aside to recognize and strengthen our heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under the law. Since that time, Law Day has been celebrated annually.
An Inver Grove Heights Reservist went to court after trying to get his job back at the Ford plant in St. Paul
When Army Reservist Mitch Minnaert came marching home to Inver Grove Heights after 15 months of active duty in 2003, all he wanted to do was to go back to work at the Ford plant in St. Paul. That was easier said than done.
It is difficult to gauge the full extent of the gratitude that the Louisiana bar feels for its colleagues in Minnesota.
Louisiana State Bar Association President-Elect Marta-Ann Schnabel said, "I think Minnesota gave us the most of any state. And it wasn't just the money. Minnesota has gone out of its way. It is the only bar association that has contacted us to send representatives here to see and experience the extent of the devastation."
What We've Done
Nothing that I read or saw in the media prepared me for what I saw when I visited the Gulf coast four and a half months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the coastal areas. I was still overwhelmed by the destruction and what remains to be done.
LAWYERS CAN HELP
If this plan works, every minute of every meeting I have ever attended will have been worth it. There has been no region of our state unaffected by meth - methamphetamine - the new drug of choice among our youth. And there has been no place that I have been in our state where lawyers did not want to be involved in a solution.