Category Archives: Iowa Case Law

Juror Collapses in Med Mal Trial – Defendant Doctor saves her. What happens next?

This is one of the most common war stories you hear in the medical malpractice world – someone in the courtroom collapses during a medical malpractice trial, and the defendant doctor runs in to render aid and save the day.

Everyone claims to know someone this has happened to. It’s the Eddie Murphy in the elevator of lawyer stories.

Here’s one time it actually happened. 

Bottom line is that the District Court allowed everyone involved to compose themselves over the lunch hour, polled the jury, and when the jury said they could still be fair and impartial, refused the Plaintiff’s request for a mistrial. The Court of Appeals reversed.

I tend to agree with the Court of Appeals. The bigger key is that if this happens to you, there are some citations in the opinion with other cases – so remember that if you need a quick brief on the issue.

(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer in Rock Island, Illinois, practicing in Iowa and Illinois. He can be reached at 309-794-1660 or at hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com).

Leave a comment

Filed under Iowa Case Law, Juries, Medical Malpractice, Trial Practice

Surprising Iowa Court of Appeals Ruling on Vehicle Damage

I assume the law on vehicle damage is pretty much the same in every state, right? The general rule is that the plaintiff gets the reasonable cost to repair the vehicle or the value of the vehicle, whichever one is lower.

In trial, the proof should go as follows: Plaintiff proves the value of the repair. Defendant either accepts the value, presents evidence that the real value of the repair is lower or that the value of the repair exceeds the value of the vehicle. If the defendant doesn’t do that, and liability is clear, the plaintiff should win.

Emphasis on “should.” In Iowa, this apparently isn’t the case. The case of Phipps v. Boone County requires the plaintiff to prove both:

A. The reasonable value of repairs, and

B. The value of the vehicle immediately prior to the collision.

Even if there is no objection.

I disagree with this… but Iowa lawyers need to be aware of this when handling property damage in car accident cases.

(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury lawyer who handles auto accident cases in Iowa and Illinois. He can be reached at 309-794-1660 or hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com)

Leave a comment

Filed under Iowa Case Law, Trial Practice

Iowa Jury Verdicts Now Partially Available for Free (But are of Limited Value)

What’s my case worth?

Any good lawyer knows that the answer to that question requires a lot of knowledge – knowledge not just about the facts of the case at hand but about which facts may drive the value of the case and why.

One valuable piece of the puzzle is to see what juries have done in the past with similar cases. Even that has its limitations. Obviously not all juries are the same. Different states, different counties, different judges, attorneys, juries, etc would lead to different results in most cases. The key when looking at jury verdicts is to look at trends and patterns.

The Iowa Bar Association now has a free searchable database of Iowa jury verdicts. It’s incomplete (missing some cases), and it doesn’t give you much information about the facts of most cases, but it’s something. Any weapons in your arsenal that can help you value cases (and convince insurance adjusters, attorneys or even your own clients) that the value you put in your demand is correct sure can’t hurt.

(Howard Zimmerle is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer practicing in Iowa and Illinois. You can reach him at (309) 794-1660 or hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com).

Leave a comment

Filed under Iowa Case Law, Negotiations, Settlements, Trial Practice, Uncategorized