The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a lawsuit against the state involving an accident during a major winter snowstorm can go forward. Martin Waters was a passenger in an SU.V. that skided out of control on icy Interstate 80 in Madison County early in the morning on February 9 of 2004.
The S.U.V. slid into another vehicle that had earlier gone off the road in what had been a severe winter storm, and Waters was injured. An Iowa State Trooper had check the first vehicle earlier and determined it was off the traveled portion of the road, and with a tow ban in place , it could stay where it was. Waters sued the state patrol and Iowa Department of Transportation for not removing the vehicle, and also for what he said was failure to warn of slippery conditions, and failure to follow snow, ice, and obstruction removal policies.
The district court dismissed most of Waters claims based on immunity given to the government in such cases. It did leave open the claim that the D.O.T. was given enough notice to have removed the first vehicle before Waters’ accident. The appeals court threw out that claim.
But the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the appeals court and said it is up to the district court to decide if the D.O.T. should have removed the vehicle during a snowstorm of the magnitude experienced at the time of the accident. So the case now returns to the district court for a trial.