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Personal Injury Case Summaries

Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota Personal Injury Attorneys

Personal injury cases can often be complex and overwhelming. Having the assistance of a knowledgeable lawyer at the Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., on your side can help ease your anxiety and get you the compensation you deserve. Below are some case summaries of personal injury cases. For more information on your specific situation, contact our firm online today or by calling 800-613-7989 ext. 242. We serve clients in Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska from our Sioux City, Iowa, office.


Court cannot grant continuance on its own motion to allow Plaintiff to get causation expert. Plaintiff was passenger on a party bus. The party bus hit a deer and plaintiff filed suit alleging he was injured. On the day of trial the court with a request from either party granted a motion with the express purpose of enabling the plaintiff to find an expert on causation. The defendant filed an interlocutory appeal and alleged the district court abused its discretion in granting the continuance. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court abused its discretion in giving the plaintiff an opportunity to correct a perceived deficiency. The matter was remanded with directions to submit the case as it existed when the court granted the continuance. Loftipour v. PR Partylines, LLC, No. 14-1319


Plaintiff must make affirmative efforts to effect service within statutory time period to request extension. Plaintiff alleges injury from an accident on 8/21/11. Suit was filed 8/20/13. 91 days after the case was filed the court entered an order of dismissal directing the action be dismissed if an extension for service was not requested. Plaintiff filed a motion for extension of time and extension was granted until 12/20/13 to complete service. Sheriff did not serve until 1/4/14. Defendant filed motion to dismiss for lack of timely service which was granted by the Court. Plaintiff appealed. Upon review the Court of Appeals determined that the action should have been dismissed after 91 days because the Plaintiff had not taken any affirmative action to effectuate service. Dismissal affirmed. Jones v. Busta, No. 14-0522


The defendant stated that she had seen a red light but not the plaintiff's vehicle which was stopped at the red light. She rear ended the plaintiff's vehicle. After the accident, while being treated in the emergency room, she realized that she could not see someone talking on her left side. After some testing doctors determined that she had lost vision on her left side because of a stroke or similar event. The defendant requested a jury instruction on legal excuse because the stroke was a sudden emergency. A sudden emergency is (1) an unforeseen combination of circumstances which calls for immediate action; (2) a perplexing contingency or complication of circumstances; or (3) a sudden or unexpected occasion for action, exigency, pressing necessity. The plaintiffs objected to the instruction because they claimed there was no credible evidence that the stroke occurred before the accident. They also objected to the jury instruction because she did not complain of the vision loss until an hour after the accident and because she was able to see the red light just before the accident. The District Court submitted the instruction and the jury returned a defense verdict. The plaintiffs appealed. Upon review the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case because the defendant was unaware of her vision loss and thus had no sudden choice or action to take. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and affirmed the judgment of the District Court. No. 12-1192.


A tort plaintiff sued a business and the city for an injury she sustained while walking on a sidewalk between the business and the main street in the city. The city and the business both filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment for both defendants because neither owed a duty of care relating to the sidewalk. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the summary judgment for the store but reversed the judgment for the city. The Court citing several state statutes related to municipal control of sidewalks determined that the city had sufficient control of the sidewalk. The city has a duty of keeping its sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition for public travel and is liable for injuries cause by its neglect. Patitucci v. City of Hill City & Granite Sports Inc., 2013 S.D. 62


The defendant rear ended another driver at a stop sign. During her treatment for the accident it was determined that she had suffered from a stroke sometime around the time of the accident. The experts disagreed on whether the stroke occurred before or after the accident. As a result of the stroke the defendant lost a portion of her visual field. During the trial the defendant claimed that she was unaware that she had suffered from a stroke or lost half of her visual field; thus, due to no fault of her own she did not see the plaintiff's vehicle. Because she was unaware of her medical issue she did not take action or react to the emergency she faced. The jury instruction that was given at trial related to sudden emergency causing the defendant to take immediate action. Because the defendant was not aware of her condition, she did not take any action and the instruction was inappropriate. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. Hagenow v. Schmidt, No. 12-1192 (Iowa. Ct. App. 2013)


Defendant was entitled to a new trial for future medical expenses when the verdict was not consistent with the evidence at trial. The plaintiff's expert testified that future medical expenses would range from $4,000-$20,000 depending on how the plaintiff responded to treatment. The jury awarded the plaintiff $70,000 for future medical expenses. The defendant requested a new trial because the award was inconsistent with the testimony presented. The court granted a new trial. At the new trial the plaintiff filed a motion in limine to limit testimony related to pre-existing injuries and evidence as to whether the plaintiff was permanently injured. The court denied this request because "implicit" in the trial is the question of whether the plaintiff's injuries were sustained in the accident. The court also allowed a surveillance video to be introduced that showed the plaintiff squatting, climbing scaffolding, and other physical activity. On appeal the court of appeals determined that evidence of pre-existing conditions was admissible because the issue of causation is relevant to the award of future medical expenses. The court also determined that the video was relevant for the extent of the plaintiff's injuries, whether he would incur future medical expenses, and the amount of those expenses. The court of appeals determined that the trial court did not abuse its discretion on any of these issued and affirmed the decision.


Jury verdict finding liability but no damages were inconsistent verdicts that required the case be remanded for a trial on damages. The plaintiff was injured in an accident where she complained of a neck strain. At approximately the same time frame as the accident the plaintiff was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Plaintiff's counsel waived any claim for past medical expenses during the closing argument but did ask for past pain and suffering and future pain and suffering. The defendant's counsel conceded during closing arguments that there was some probably some liability for past pain and suffering. The jury upon deliberation found the defendant was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's damages but awarded $0. When asked about the verdict the jury foreperson stated that the jurors felt the plaintiff was entitled to some reimbursement for past medical bills. However, the jury did not award damages for past medical bills because they were told to disregard that issue. The trial court felt this was consistent because the plaintiff's counsel withdrew any claims for past medical expenses during his closing argument. On appeal the court held that the verdict was inconsistent because defense counsel conceded that there should be some award for past pain and suffering. The case was remanded for a trial on damages.


Grocery store employee who was not yet on duty, was riding a bicycle, and struck a customer did not give rise to a claim against the store under a theory of respondeat superior. A grocery store employee arrived for work approximately 30 minutes early but realized that he had forgotten some of his required attire. He requested and was given permission to return home to retrieve the attire and return to work. While he was leaving he struck the plaintiff at a fairly high rate of speed causing the olive oil bottle she was carrying to shatter and cut her forearm and wrist. Her ankle was also broken. She required stitches, twelve pins, and two plates to treat her injuries. The lower court dismissed the respondeat superior claim because the employee was not on duty and not acting within the scope of his employment. However, the court remanded the case for further proceedings regarding the store's premises liability for failing to eliminate or warn against the risk from the "blind" exit of the store where the accident happened.


Erroneous jury instructions on presumptions on presumptions applicable to criminal prosecution and violation of the court's order in limine warrant reversal of jury verdict. Two men who were participating in a motorcycle "poker run" had consumed somewhere between 4-6 beers during the ride. As they were headed home, they encountered a tractor driving on the road. The motorcycle riders passed the tractor and it is disputed exactly how, but ultimately the tractor struck one of the motorcycle riders. The injured rider was treated and blood was drawn several hours after the accident. The blood was sent to the state lab and by extrapolation it was determined that his Blood Alcohol Content could have been .087%. The injured party suffered a fractured left elbow, pelvis, and knee. He had $160,745 in medical expenses. The Defendant requested and was granted an order that declared no questions could be asked during the trial, "regarding any citation, charge of a criminal nature that was-was brought or was not brought." During a deposition Plaintiff's counsel asked about arrests and the Defendant filed another motion in limine. The court granted an order saying, "The court is going to limit any questions regarding arrests, citations, as previously ordered." The Defense presented testimony regarding what effect the Plaintiff would have felt from the alcohol and the Plaintiff presented testimony that his Blood Alcohol Content would have only been .062% at the time of the accident. The jury awarded the plaintiff $520,754. There were multiple issues raised on appeal.

The circuit court used a criminal jury instruction on DUI regarding the presumptions of blood alcohol levels. On appeal the court held that the criminal instruction was not appropriate in the civil case because it only considered BAC and that the jury should consider other evidence of impairment. Furthermore the court on appeal believed that the Plaintiff violated the order in limine suggesting that because he was not prosecuted for DUI he was not driving under the influence. The court opined that this improper suggestion probably prejudiced the jury so the case was reversed and remanded for a new trial.


Lighting pilot light is not abnormally dangerous activity and inference of negligence cannot be drawn from statements by Defendant that he should have waited for service person to light pilot light. The Defendant lit his pilot light sometime in the late evening hours. About eight hours later there was an explosion and his house burned. The fire spread to the plaintiff's house, who filed suit for negligence in lighting the pilot light. Shortly after the explosion the defendant made statements that he should have waited for the service person from the gas company to light the pilot light. The Plaintiff argued that an inference of negligence could be drawn from these statements and also that lighting the pilot light was an abnormally dangerous activity. The court held that this was not an abnormally dangerous activity and no inference of negligence could be drawn from the defendant's statements that he should have waited or wished he would have waited.



It was improper for the district court to dismiss the plaintiff's claim when he was not present for trial but his attorney was able to proceed without plaintiff present. The trial had been continued numerous times. The plaintiff became stranded on his way to the trial and was not able to attend. The plaintiff's attorney was able to proceed without the plaintiff present based on stipulated evidence and admission by the defendant. The court dismissed the claim because the plaintiff was not present. The Supreme Court reversed holding that a party is not required to personally appear for trial if counsel can proceed with the trial on the plaintiff's behalf.


Grocery store employee, who was not yet on duty, was riding a bicycle, and struck a customer did not give rise to a claim against the store under a theory of respondeat superior. A grocery store employee arrived for work approximately 30 minutes early but realized that he had forgotten some of his required attire. He requested and was given permission to return home to retrieve the attire and return to work. While he was leaving he struck the plaintiff at a fairly high rate of speed causing the olive oil bottle she was carrying to shatter and cut her forearm and wrist. Her ankle was also broken. She required stitches, twelve pins, and two plates to treat her injuries. The lower court dismissed the respondeat superior claim because the employee was not on duty and not acting within the scope of his employment. However, the court remanded the case for further proceedings regarding the store's premises liability for failing to eliminate or warn against the risk from the "blind" exit of the store where the accident happened.


Contact a personal injury lawyer at the Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., today to discuss your case and needs. Call 800-613-7989 ext. 242.

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