A recent jury verdict tops the February news. Of course it wouldn’t be on top if our side had lost. This case involved two falls in the Pilot Station native store. We represented the store, and Michele Power represented the plaintiffs, all members of the Greene family from Pilot Station. Charlie Greene, who has weighed around 275-280 for the past several years claims he fell once on a wet floor and once on a few plastic straps that were on the floor of the store room. In the first fall, in 2006, he said he injured his right knee and in the second fall his left knee. His medical records proved to be his undoing. They showed no reference to any fall in the store, and showed that he complained of left knee pain from 2006 which he twice blamed on falls while playing basketball, which he continued to play after being advised not to. He even argued with his physical therapist about whether he had been treated for his left or right knee for the past year, when all records said left knee.
At trial evidence revealed that the Greene family had three other recent lawsuits, including two that were falls, one of which was another claim against the Native store for injuries suffered by a seven year old who fell and bruised his leg. Mrs. Greene said the bruise lasted two days. Greene testified at his deposition that he gained 50 pounds as a result of the falls, which was disproved by his records. He also admitted earlier that he saw both the wet floor and the plastic straps before he fell. In short it was the type of case that gives trial lawyers a bad name.
This was the first trial where Myron opposed his former employee of ten years who left in 2005 without notice, taking many files with her. Winning is always better than losing, but some wins are better than others.
ALO also settled a claim against a local air carrier. It was an unusual case involving no accident or physical injuries. Three ladies from a Yukon River village were flying to Bethel on a small plane which took off normally. Shortly after it became apparent to them that there was a problem. The airplane could not climb, and instead kept creeping closer and closer to the ground. All three could see the pilot attempting to adjust the controls to gain altitude, but they estimated they were clearing the tundra by about 10 feet for several minutes. The ladies assumed the crash position, and all thought they would surely die if they lost any more altitude. After many minutes, the problem was resolved and the flight continued without incident. In Alaska, extreme fright created by a life threatening incident is sufficient to create a legal claim, if a reasonable person would have that reaction. Here, there was little doubt that the passengers were justified in their belief that they were about to crash and die, and they were able to settle their cases for $12,500 each without filing a law suit.
Alaska weather has been stormy, resulting in deep snow and bad flying conditions. The Old Friendly dog team was headed to Unalakleet to defend its title won last vear by Dean Painter, but had to turn back twice for weather. Lucky thing too, because since that time (10 days ago) no light plane flights have been possible back to Bethel.
Two pictures make the cut for this month’s news page. Bethel’s Jeremiah Klejka used two dogs from OFDF to compete in the Junior Iditarod last week. He finished ninth as a rookie. This shot shows him shortly after the start near Willow. The other picture taken by Don Rearden, who commutes from his home high on the Anchorage hillside to UAA every day. He says there were four lynx along the road but he only got three in this photo.