February 13, 2016

Supreme Court allows woman to sue Transportation Department in husband’s death

Court-buildingThe Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a Warren County woman can sue the Department of Transportation for negligence in her husband’s death.

Deborah McFadden’s husband Charles died in a motorcycle accident in April of 2012 on Highway 69 in Warren County. Deborah filed a claim with the state appeal board alleging the DOT’s negligent maintenance of the highway caused his death. After six months of getting no answer from the appeal board, she filed suit in district court.

The district court, and Court of Appeals both threw out her case saying she had not exhausted her appeal through the administrative process before going to court. She appealed those rulings. State officials argued McFadden’s claim was not properly submitted to the appeals board because she had not clearly stated she was the administrator of her husband’s estate in the paperwork she submitted.

The Iowa Supreme Court says McFadden’s claim form answered all the questions required and contained all the information the state administrative rule requires. The court ruling says “the appeal board’s rules and claim form did not require McFadden to allege her representative capacity in presenting the tort claim in this case.” It says McFadden had been appointed administrator before presenting claim to the appeal board, and was entitled to present the claim and file suit in her own name as the estate’s legal representative.

The conclusion of the Supreme Court’s ruling quoted wording from a case more than a century ago:

“[R]ights must not be denied by too strict an application of mere legal formality. The sword of Justice is not often made more keen by the whetstone of technicality, and a right secured by too rigid means may harden into a wrong. . . . Not only must justice appear to be done, but it is the function and duty of this court and of all courts to see that it is done. Technicality should not become a Pegasus which, if ridden by an expert legal jockey, may carry us far from the true goal.”

The Supreme Court vacated the Appeals Court ruling and reversed the district court ruling and sent the case back to district court for action.

Here’s the full ruling: McFadden ruling PDF


State has grant money available for automated CPR machines

An automated CPR device.

An automated CPR device.

The state Department of Public Health has won a grant that will allow it to make automated devices that perform CPR compressions available to emergency responders and hospitals across the state.

The chief of the Bureau of Emergency and Trauma Services, Rebecca Curtis, says the $6.3 million grant will be used to purchase the devices.

“Once this machine is on, it takes care of the compressions of CPR, as well as the decompressions of CPR,” Curtis says. “A typical EMS provider is completely worn out after five-to-ten minutes of providing chest compressions.” There’s another advantage to having the machine do the work.

“Those chest compressions are done much more efficiently, effectively, and then the outcomes are just greatly improved,” Curtis explains. This particular device is called the Lucas-2. She says the grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust is important as many small fire departments raise their own funds for equipment.

“Each device costs approximately $10,000 a piece. so that’s a lot of money, a lot of money that rural health care providers, rural E-M-S can’t really think about providing with their pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners,” Curtis says. Those who are interested can apply for money to buy a machine.

“They will be awarded through an application process, through the grants.gov system on the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website. And then we anticipate the first shipment will start late spring, early summer,” according to Curtis. She says the manufacturer will work with the departments to train them on the machines.


Fayette County man faces drug charge after farm accident

Sheriff vehicleA man injured in a farm accident in northeast Iowa is now facing drug charges.

Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies were sent to farm near Arlington Tuesday afternoon on the report of a suspicious, white, powdery substance found in a grain bin.

The investigation led deputies to 59-year-old Lyle Keding, who earlier in the day was injured in a farm machinery accident and hospitalized. Once he was discharged from the hospital, Keding was arrested.

He’s now facing charges that include possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.


USDA official: Indiana bird flu appears to be contained

chickensPoultry producers in Iowa are on high alert as an outbreak of avian influenza is being dealt with in Indiana. At least ten turkey farms in a single Indiana county are reported infected.

T.J. Myers, an administrator at the U.S.D.A.’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says the outbreak appears to be contained.

“There’s been a lot of good work to increase our preparatory efforts at the federal side, the state side and the industry side,” Myers says. “Industry and poultry producers have been doing a lot to strengthen their biosecurity so we are hopeful that as we respond very quickly to this virus that we can get it contained.”

The Indiana situation is being closely monitored and Myers says the agency is not calling for vaccinations. “Our vaccination policy is to only use it if we feel that it would be an important adjunct to our stamping out policy,” he says. “At this point, we are not looking to do any sort of vaccination.”

While the bird flu outbreak appears to have spread to multiple farms in Indiana, they are all in close proximity within one county and officials believe the spread has been halted. Given that, vaccinations shouldn’t be needed.

“That’s something that we would only use if we felt that it was necessary to assist us in containing a spreading virus,” Myers says, “which we are not looking at right now.” A total of 77 poultry operations in Iowa had bird flu outbreaks last spring and more than 31 million chickens and turkeys were wiped out in Iowa, which was by far the worst-hit state.

Losses in Iowa alone from the outbreak may total one billion dollars. No new cases of bird flu have been reported in Iowa since last June and the final quarantine was lifted on December 1st.


Bus driver arrested in hit-and-run death of Iowa State University student

Emmalee Jacobs

Emmalee Jacobs

Ames police have charged a bus driver in the death of an Iowa State student who was struck and killed in a crosswalk in December.

Police found 18-year-old Emmalee Jacobs, a student from Urbana, lying in the road on December 14th around 7 A.M. Jacobs later died at the Ames hospital.

Ames Police Commander Jason Tuttle says they’ve arrested the driver of a CyRide bus, 23-year-old Benjamin Clague of Gilbert.

“Two weeks ago today we were alerted by Cyride that they had been reviewing video and found a concerning video from a bus that was on a route near Lincolnway and Ash on the morning that Emmalee was struck and killed,” Tuttle says. He says Clague was the driver and is charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and failure to obey a traffic control device.

“We did interview him after we were able to determine who he was…. and he certainly wouldn’t admit that he struck her that morning. But we believe based on follow-up interviews that we have completed and some forensic evidence that we have obtained, that he certainly struck her that morning with a bus,” according to Tuttle.

Tuttle says there could have been several things involved in the accident, but the most important thing is Clague didn’t report it. He says weather was a factor as it was raining and there was a lot of glare from the lights that morning. “Again, at some point we believe he knew he struck her and he did not come forward and that is why we have charged him with the charges that we have,” Tuttle says. He says they are still asking anyone who may’ve been in the area on that December morning to come forward and let them know.

Tuttle says, “If there are other witnesses or students who could have been on his bus route later that morning — maybe they know him and saw changes in his behavior — or anyone else now that we know a Cy-Ride bus was involved that could have witnessed it, we want them to give us a phone call.”

It has taken more than a month to bring charges in Jacobs’ death, and Tuttle says it has taken a lot of hours of investigation, but they are glad to be able to find the person responsible. “It is bitter sweet you know in a way, because we are happy to be able to identify who struck her, but it certainly doesn’t bring Emmalee back,” Tuttle says. “And so, we certainly feel for what the family is going through.”

Anyone having information about the accident is asked to contact the Ames Police Department (515) 239-5133 or the anonymous tip line (515) 239-5533. You may also contact the Story County Crime Stoppers: at 515-382-7577, Online:www.storycountycs.com, Text: Text the word “STORYCOUNTY” plus your tip to 847411 (tip411).


Two people die in Cass County accident near Atlantic

Police-lightsTwo people were killed, a third was hurt, in a crash Tuesday morning near Atlantic in southwest Iowa’s Cass County.

The Iowa State Patrol identified those who died in the crash between a pickup and a car as 49-year-old Melissa Jones, of Walnut and 39-year-old John Maxwell, of Anita.

The driver of the pickup, 57-year-old Dennis Weihs of Marne , was transported to the Cass County Hospital by ambulance. The Patrol says a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Jones, was traveling eastbound on Highway 83 when the car went out of control while trying to negotiate a curve. The vehicle crossed the center line of the road and was hit on the passenger side by Weihs’ 2016 Chevy Silverado pickup.

Both vehicles came to rest upright in the northeast ditch. Jones and Maxwell, who were wearing their seat belts, died at the scene.

(Reporting by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)


Carson campaign volunteer dies of injuries from I-80 roll-over accident

Ben Carson and Braden Joplin from Carson's Twitter account.

Ben Carson and Braden Joplin from Carson’s Twitter account.

A 25-year-old college student who was volunteering on Ben Carson’s Iowa Caucus campaign has died after a roll-over accident on Interstate 80 in western Iowa.

A van being driven by a campaign staffer hit a patch of ice, rolled and was struck by another vehicle near Atlantic.

The campaign field director and two other campaign volunteers were treated and released from the local hospital, but Braden Joplin was flown to an Omaha hospital for treatment.

Carson temporarily suspended his campaign and flew from South Carolina to Omaha to meet with Joplin’s family. “I think that’s where we need to be right now,” Carson said.

Joplin died of his injuries late Tuesday afternoon. Carson released a written statement a few hours later, saying one of the “joys of campaigning is the privilege of meeting bright young men and women” like Joplin. Carson said he’s filled with “a deep and profound sadness” at the young man’s death.

As news of the accident spread on social media, messages of support came from candidates and campaign staff on both sides of the political aisle. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders began his Sioux City rally last night with a moment of silence in honor of Joplin. Carson said that outpouring of support shows “life will always transcend politics.”

Carson called Joplin and those like him who volunteer for campaigns “the unsung heroes of the political process.” Joplin was a student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He was among a group of student volunteers who arrived in Iowa this month to volunteer in the run-up to the February 1 Iowa Caucuses.

Carson posted a photo of Joplin on Twitter with this message: “Rest In Peace Braden Joplin. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”