Recent Iowa News


Introducing The Iowa Trial Lawyer -- the official publication of the Iowa Association for Justice (IAJ). Throughout the 1970's and 80's this association produced a publication by the same name. For a short time in the 1990's and early 2000's we published a newsletter with a much different look a feel called In Brief. It has been over 10 years since we've produced a newsletter, but after a long hiatus The Iowa Trial Lawyer is back.

There will be two issues printed in 2015, and three issues printed each year after that. This publication is sponsored by Summit Structured Settlements.

Follow this link to view The Iowa Trial Lawyer on your computer, review the list of articles contained within the issue, or to read additional articles mentioned in the print edition. The Iowa Trial Lawyer is for IAJ members only, you must be logged in to the website to view it.

Summarizing the 2015 legislative session
IAJ - June 8, 2015
The 2015 legislative session was a major success for IAJ. In the current political climate the bills that don’t pass typically measure legislative success for your clients. This year, however, we also had some important affirmative accomplishments, helping to pass three bills that are good for our civil/criminal justice system, and good for your clients. Here is what you need to know in IAJ’s end-of-session wrap-up... read more.

Justice Dept. settles $30 million lawsuit against Watts
WVIK Quad Cities Public Radio - APR 28, 2015
Residents of the Quad Cities may be most familiar with James Watts from Bettendorf door as the owner of the closed Taylor Ridge landfill, but over the last 25 years he's owned and operated 23 different companies including ESG Watts in the Quad Cities, Hawkeye Waste Systems in Iowa City and L&M Waste in Muscatine. The suit claimed that Watts repeatedly used a pyramid scheme to avoid paying employment taxes by transferring assets from company to company then closing the original businesses.

Iowa City Attorney Jeremy Flaming represents an employee who was injured while working for Hawkeye Waste in 2009… Flaming says not only did Watts fail to pay taxes, but Hawkeye Waste never bought workers’ compensation insurance, which is a felony. Even after Iowa Workforce Development ruled the injured worker should receive more than $200,000, the company never paid. “The state in Iowa is aware that they have been in violation of the law for at least the last 6 years but they can still do business, presumably they can still generate revenue, they can still hire employees. I think that’s what strikes me most is that they can still do business, that the IRS allowed them to still do business for 24 years and that the state of Iowa is letting them to do business without comp insurance,” said Flaming.

The deputy commissioner who ruled in favor of the injured worker also told Flaming he referred the ruling to the Iowa Attorney General’s office and the Johnson County Attorney. Flaming explained that, “this isn’t a labor versus business issue. This is a criminal versus law abiding citizens issue. The businesses suffer just as much as our clients do when they have foot the bill for companies like this who won’t abide by their obligations. Legitimate businesses premiums go up, taxpayers have to pay for medical treatment that should be the responsibility of the workers’ compensation system. So this kind of conduct hurts everyone, not just the injured workers and I think it’s a real shame that none of our law enforcement agencies are sort of taking responsibility and sticking up for us.”

Iowa-expunged criminal records bill signed into law
Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier - MAY 2, 2015
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on Friday signed 14 bills into law, including a measure that allows for the expunging of public records of dismissed charges and those that result in acquittal. This new law means an individual may petition courts to expunge records in which criminal charges were dismissed or the defendant was acquitted. 

Supporters say indivuals cleared of charges sometimes face public shame and difficulty getting jobs, and online public records are not clear as to when charges resulted in acquittal or dismissal... read more.

Dubuque goes overboard with sledding ordinance
DES MOINES REGISTER - JAN 10, 2015
Claiming fear of lawsuits, the Dubuque City Council recently banned sledding at all but two of its 50 city parks. The city must be facing an avalanche of litigation, right? Actually, the city of Dubuque has never faced a sledding lawsuit — which is not at all surprising.

As far as we can tell, there have been only three sledding lawsuits against Iowa cities in history. These were not cases of bruises or broken bones, but sledders permanently paralyzed after slamming into dangerous obstacles that were placed at the bottom of designated sledding hills by city employees who should have known better... read more

IAJ installs new officers and board members, and honors award winners
IAJ - NOV 6-7, 2014
The Iowa Association for Justice held its annual two day seminar November 6-7, 2014 at the Marriott Downtown Des Moines. At the event IAJ installed new executive officers and members of its Board of Governors. IAJ’s newly installed leaders will serve the 2014-15 term. IAJ also honored its 2014 award winners and completed its year-long Justice In Deed fundraising campaign to place a fully trained therapy dog at On With Life in Ankeny. Follow the link above to see full details from the event. To see photos from the two-day convention, click here

CNN's Michael Smerconish on the power of the civil justice system
CNN - APR 4, 2014
In "One Last Thing," Smerconish recaps his week, and reflects upon the power and importance of the civil justice system.

Don't lower strip-search standard
Cedar Rapids Gazette - MAR 14, 2014
The Iowa Legislature should drop consideration of a bill that would lower the legal threshold for strip searches in county jails and municipal holding facilities.

A bill approved by the Iowa House would allow officers to strip-search anyone in a jail's general population if they have "reasonable suspicion" that detainee is in possession for contraband. That includes offenders arrested for low-level misdemeanors, such as traffic violations and public intoxication. read more

Who should decide the outcome of civil disputes?
Sioux City Journal - MAR 7, 2014
The defamation lawsuit of State Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, against his former campaign opponent Rick Mullin and the Iowa Democratic Party brings up an important question about our courts: Who should decide the outcome of civil disputes?

For hundreds of years in America the answer was simple. Local jurors decided disputes between parties and complicated cases were then reviewed by appellate judges. Our founders fought for this system. They demanded it in our Bill of Rights with the Seventh Amendment right to trial by jury in civil cases. This system ensured that citizens would hear all the facts of each individual case, weigh the arguments of each party, and come to a common-sense solution. James Madison went so far as to say that, “trial by jury in civil cases is as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature.” read more 

UPCOMING EVENTS

IAJ's Law & Lunch #2: The Value of a Comprehensive
Neuropsychological Evaluation for Your Case

July 13, 2015

Noon - 1:00 pm

IAJ's Criminal Law Seminar

September 10-11, 2015
Prairie Meadows Events Center
Altoona, IA