ALO resolved a major case in December, settling a claim brought by a Bethel family for the death of their son who fell from a freight boat in Kuskokwim Bay while working. The accident happened after a fire started on the boat. The young man was a deck hand on the boat, and apparently was not wearing a life jacket. Somehow, the captain and the other crew member did not notice that the man was overboard and a search was not started for some time after he fell in. The case settled for policy limits after a rather extended period of negotiation. ALO first demanded policy limits on this case over a year ago, and that offer was rejected. The insurance policy in this case was the type that diminished as costs and fees were spent defending the case. As those costs and fees increased, the insurance company, and the boat owner, were able to see that there was potential for a bad result, perhaps greater than the policy limits. Eventually the company paid the full policy limits, and was forced to absorb the considerable costs expended in defending as well.
ALO also obtained a dismissal of a felony booze importation charge after challenging the search which was conducted by the police. Unlawful searches for booze at various locations are not that uncommon in this area. It appears one of the strategies employed is to seize the booze after such a search, resulting in some detriment to the owner even if the case does not proceed.
Other cases made the news as well. A Bethel jury returned a verdict for more than $20,000,000 for a man paralyzed during an arrest in the village of Kwethluk. That story was widely circulated, but little was mentioned about how the verdict was obtained. Kwethluk had no insurance, and no lawyer, so did not come to the trial. Winning a big verdict under those circumstances is like scoring 200 points in a basketball game when the other team stays in the locker room. It is questionable how much of that verdict will ever be paid by Kwethluk, but it made for a nice headline.
At year's end, this article appeared in various news outlets, detailing the events surrounding the August plane crash that killed former Alaska senator Ted Stevens. The crash took place about 50 miles from the Angstman cabin east of Bethel, in terrain very similar to that surrounding the cabin. This account really should be read by anyone who travels in the Alaska bush, especially by air. It is not a pleasant story, even less pleasant for anyone who has been in an airplane crash. This story hits close to home for ALO, as two of the search pilots are clients of this office, one of the first responders is an elk farm customer, and Myron and Sue were previous guests at the lodge where the flight originated.
Speaking of the elk farm, this article appears online and describes the early days of the farm, back when the Angstman family first arrived in the early 1900's. Aunt Laura, who lived to be 102 years old, was a ripe source of old time lore. She recalled living in a sod hut in South Dakota, where the family lived before moving to Minnesota. Heating fuel was gathered on the prairie, in the form of dried buffalo dung. She spent her formative years as a caretaker for her 11 rather active brothers on the Angstman farm after her father passed away. Not surprisingly she developed quite a stern approach to youthful antics. This revealed itself later when she was called upon to perform a similar role with young Myron, when she lived on the adjoining farm as a widow. She knew how to handle rapscallions, as she called young boys. Speaking of young boys, this photo shows where Myron and all the rest of the Angstman boys attended school.
Christmas programs draw a crowd. The ME primary school program is famous in Bethel, drawing a standing room only crowd to the gym. Mary was resplendent.
And for those who would like more, here are school photos of Mary and Sunset, her live-in cousin.
This Christmas video is worth watching. It comes from the village of Quinhagak where ALO has many clients.
It is nice to see that most Alaskans have good taste.
ALO has a new employee. Martha Tikiun has joined the staff as a half time paralegal.
Martha previously worked here as a secretary, and since has had jobs as a court clerk and as a paralegal at the District Attorney's office. She is a welcome addition. She will work mainly with criminal cases, which continue to be a big part of the workload at ALO with 20-25 cases active most of the time.
Finally, looks like a tough way to go.