This month’s news is a bit late because of a long trial which started in July and spilled over to August. The trial involved wrongful death claims against ALO client Faulkner Walsh Constructors (FWC) and the City of Bethel, represented by Bill Ingaldson. Bill is a Minnesota native with whom ALO has tried three cases in the past couple of years.
After two and one half weeks of trial, the jury voted 12-0 against the families who were seeking damages for the deaths. The deceased, Nick Kameroff, Sr. of Aniak and Roy Wolkoff, Sr. from the Kodiak area, were employees of FWC, and drowned in the Kuskokwim river in front of Bethel after an evening of drinking. They were found with a high level of alcohol in their blood, and were reported to be fairly drunk to very drunk by witnesses who saw them that night. They were dropped near the tugboat Warhorse at about 11:30 pm by a cab driver, who last saw them approaching the seawall where the boat was moored. They were found a few days later by search and rescue volunteers who dragged the river near where they were last seen.
The plaintiffs were represented by Power Brown of Bethel, who claimed FW should pay because of the lack of a proper means to get on and off the boat. The City of Bethel was blamed for having a poorly maintained seawall. After a few hours of deliberation, the jury rejected those claims.
Alcohol was the main focus of the trial. The families argued the men were not that drunk, but early on they agreed they would accept their share of the blame for the deaths. With little evidence to show how the men actually fell in the water, the plaintiffs had a tough case from the start.
Trying a case with Bill Ingaldson is always a treat. He carries with him through trial a sense of humor which makes an otherwise stressful period of time much more pleasant. He also has a court room style which nicely contrasts with that of ALO, and is quick minded during trial, which is an essential tool for anyone hoping to win.
Winning a major piece of litigation gives everyone involved a big boost. Unfortunately, other jury trials are set for the near future so little time is allowed to relax after this verdict. During trial ALO expressed its understanding of the families’ desire to blame someone else for the death of their husbands and fathers. But it was also mentioned that bringing suit against others when it is obvious that booze was the cause of the deaths is not fair. Apparently the jury agreed.