Bob interviewed by ReelLawyers

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with the folks over at

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1.7M Verdict in Tow Truck Accident

Key may have been moving trial from Aitkin County

“If you try the case 10 times, I don’t know how many times you are going to get verdict of more than $1 million.”

—Bob Christensen, Minneapolis attorney

by Patrick Thornton
Reprinted with permission of Minnesota Lawyer ©2014

A man who had his legs broken when a tow truck rolled over him collected more than $1.7 million, including nearly $1 million for pain and suffering, from the driver of the truck, his employer and the insurance company. But first the man and his wife had to reject a $100,000 offer to settle the case and risk they could wind up with nothing. Dean and Sharon Bauer were camping at a Lake Mille Lacs campground in Aitkin County in July 2011. Their truck wouldn’t start so they called a tow truck company. A driver arrived at the scene and according to the Bauers’ lawyer, Bob Christensen of Minneapolis, the truck driver did not set the emergency brake and got out of the truck while it was still running to check on Dean Bauer. Bauer was under the hood of his truck. Sometime later the tow truck started to roll backward on to Bauer’s legs. Both of his legs were broken. Bauer is in his mid-60s and retired. The injury cost about $300,000 for surgeries and therapy sessions. He still walks with a cane and his mobility was and capabilities were diminished as a result of the injuries, Christensen said. They first sued the driver and his employer in Aitkin County.

That case settled for $765,000. Christensen said he was able to show that the driver acted negli-gently by leaving the vehicle run-ning when he got out and that he should have applied the emer-gency brake. The tow truck com-pany argued that Dean Bauer was too close to the truck and con-tributed to the injury, but by using an accident reconstructionist Christensen said they established there was at least 20 feet between the two vehicles when the tow truck rolled backwards. And then they sued the insur-ance company for an underin-sured motorist claim. But in order to collect any damages in that

case, the plaintiff needed to ex-ceed the “insurance gap,” Chris-tensen said. The tow truck driver had a $ 1 million policy, so in order to col-lect underinsured motorist bene-fits, the jury needed to return a net verdict of more than $1 million. If the jury returned a verdict of $995,000, the driver would not be underinsured and the Bauers would get nothing. It was a gamble, Christensen said. The insurance company of-fered $100,000 to settle. “They knew when they turned down that offer, they could end up

getting zero. But they wanted to go ahead,” he said. “The insurance company was betting on any award would be less than $1 mil-lion.” The insurer, AAA Insurance Group, declined to comment for this story. When it came time to sue out the case against the insurance company, Christensen said they made the strategic decision to venue it in Dakota County rather than Aitkin County. He said be-cause they were asking for a lot of money, he thought they would get a more “aware” and “understand-ing.” In short, he thought they had a better chance of getting a bigger

verdict in the metro area. The case went to trial in June 2014. Christensen said the trial was different because Bauer was re-tired at the time of the accident, so there wasn’t a claim for lost wages, and though the injuries were severe they weren’t cata-strophic like an amputation or being paralyzed. He said at trial the insurance company argued that some of Bauer’s injuries were due to a pre-existing cardiac condition. A car-diologist testified that his troubles were caused by the trauma of the accident.

Christensen said he also used a life care planner to testify to Bauer’s future medical expenses and what assistance he will need for the rest of his life. Christensen said there are things the Bauers will need to pay for now to main-tain a house that Bauer could do before the accident. “The life care planner was par-ticularly helpful because I didn’t have that wage loss I could point to here. [Bauer] was retired. There are ways you have to find to help build the special damages and get them in front of a jury,” he said. Christensen said he also used friends and neighbors to testify as to what Bauer was like before and after the accident and that he was active and hiked, hunted and fished. The jury returned a verdict June 13, finding the driver of the truck 100 percent responsible for the crash. The total value was $1,745,309.90. The jury awarded $329,986.90 for past medical ex-penses and $480,323 for future medical expenses. The jury also awarded $500,000 for past pain and emotional distress and $250,000 for future pain and emo-tional distress. Additionally, the jury awarded Bauer’s wife Sharon $125,000 for damages related to her husband’s injuries and another $60,000 for future damages. Christensen said plaintiffs lawyers are always looking for ways to build general damages in to verdicts and this case is a good example that it can be done. But it wasn’t easy. “If you try the case 10 times, I don’t know how many times you are going to get verdict of more than $ 1 million.” he said.

Vol. 18, No. 37 | $6.00 September 15, 2014

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Government Fraud Costs Hospital $98 Million

We continue to sue false claims or whistleblower cases throughout the country to recover money paid to corporations that have illegally been receiving taxpayer funds.  The following report from the American Association for Justice is typical of these false claims cases.

The Mooresville (NC) Tribune (8/8, Spencer, 14K) reports that Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc., “the owner of Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville and Davis Regional Medical Center in Statesville, agreed this week to pay $98.15 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve seven different whistleblower lawsuits.” The lawsuits “alleged that the company committed fraud, including one filed by the former emergency room physician at Lake Norman Regional, Dr. Thomas Mason. ‘Charging the government for higher cost inpatient services that patients do not need wastes the country’s health care resources,’ Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery of the Justice Department’s Civil Division said in a statement. ‘In addition, providing physicians with financial incentives to refer patients compromises medical judgment and risks depriving patients of the most appropriate health care available.’” (Source AAJ).

These cases come to us when individuals within corporations have a crisis of conscience and know that their employer is committing fraud.  We can help. We have successfully worked with federal and state lawyers and agents in bringing these cases.

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Bike Safety Practices Are Not Optional

A number of years ago I represented a 9 year old little girl brain injured and quadriplegic when she was struck by a van on a residential street while she was entering the road from her driveway on a bicycle.  She was not wearing a helmet.

Several years later I represented the family of a doctor killed while riding his bike to work on a residential street when a van cut the corner knocking him to the ground.  He was not wearing a helmet.

The most important safety rule for all bikers, young, old, skinny, large, athletic or not is to wear a helmet.  It is true that bikers today all more likely to understand the importance of following this rule.  Set a good example for your kids, other family members and friends and wear your helmet-please.

When you wear your helmet make sure that it is not too loose or too tight. Keep the helmet low on your forehead and inch above your eyebrows.

Once in a while you will see a biker wearing headphones and riding.  This is not cool.  Bike riders must be able to hear the sounds around them especially when sharing the road with cars and trucks.

Make sure your bike is a good fit. When you stand over your bike there should be one or two inches between you and the crossbar.  The handlebars should be set at the same level as the seat and the seat should allow the full extension of the leg with the knees only slightly bent.

If available you should ride on the bike path but if you must ride on the road keep to the far right side of the road and ride in the same direction as the traffic.

Finally, wear bright colors and put reflectors on your bike to be easily seen.  Never ride at night.

Biking can be great exercise and a lot of fun.  Be careful out there and wear a helmet.

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Governor Jesse Ventura’s Jury Is In Deliberations

It would be difficult to not know about our former governor’s lawsuit against the estate of the deceased Navy SEAL for money damages he claims were sustained by publishing untrue allegations in a book.  He is claiming millions of dollars of damages to his reputation where the book claimed that he was punched out and made derogatory remarks about the SEALS.

Whatever the outcome of the trial, what is important is that the decision, right or wrong in the public eyes, will not be determined by the news reports of the trial in federal court in St. Paul.

The jury will reach a verdict, based on the evidence presented by excellent trial lawyers in furtherance of our Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury of our peers.  The right to a jury trial by the people must remain inviolate as the Founding Fathers intended.

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ABOTA Dedicated to Save Our Juries

I am proud to have been  selected to be a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).  ABOTA is a national organization  of trial lawyers and judges committed to educating the public of the importance of preserving our constitutional right under the Seventh Amendment to a trial by jury.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution”.

The dark corporate forces that seek to take away this fundamental right are hidden behind words like “tort reform”, “caps on damages” and “binding arbitration”. If you or someone you love and care about is injured through the carelessness of another, you could lose the right to have a jury determine what money you are entitled to get to make up for the harm to you and your family.

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Distracted Driving Is Epidemic

The National Safety Council recognized April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  It urges that:

  1. People stop using cell phones while driving
  2. Recognize that hands-free devices offer no safety benefit
  3. Understand the dangers of the cognitive distraction to the brain
  4. You tell others about the dangers of cell phone distracted driving

Studies have shown that the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 1/3 when listening to or talking on a phone. National data show cell phones were involved in 350 fatal crashes in 2011.

Americans today have an unhealthy obsession with their cell phones. Take the pledge to stop talking or texting while driving.  Lives depend on it.

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1.75 Million Dollar Verdict

One month ago we concluded a trial in Dakota County which resulted in a 1.75 million dollar verdict. We are pleased to report that there is no appeal and the case is settled without post trial motions.

Our client was severely injured when a flat bed tow truck rolled backwards into him while he was under the hood of his own truck. The impact broke both of his legs.  As a result, our client had five surgeries and over 100 physical therapy visits in three years before the trial.

We were required to mediate the case by a court order but we were never able to convince the insurance company to pay a fair settlement and thus we went to trial.  The jury awarded our client $750,000 in past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress and nearly $200,000 to the spouse for her damages.

We were grateful for the seven attentive jurors that took time away from their normal day to serve in the highest form of public service.  Our client would never have received full justice without his right to take his case to the jury.

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Brain Injuries Are Devastating Even if Subtle

From our years of experience as trial lawyers, we know that the brain can be damaged by many accident scenarios which can be difficult to diagnose. Sometimes a person may not even be aware of the injury.  There may be subtle changes noticed by family members and friends such as forgetfulness, lack of concentration and irritability.

As brain injury lawyers and advocates, we can identify the issues involved in your situation and assist with an evaluation and treatment recommendations for the injuries. As importantly, as a trial lawyer representing only the injured we can identify the persons responsible and hold them accountable for the full amount of the damages they have caused.  We are the only trial lawyers for the injured designated for the state of Minnesota by the International Society of Primerus Law Firms.  We review many cases each week free of charge and if we believe we can help you and accept the case, there is never any cost or fee to you unless we obtain a settlement of money damages for you.

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Big Trucks Cause Big Damages


With all of the huge semi-trailer trucks on our nation’s highways, it is no small wonder that each day an innocent motorist is either killed or seriously injured due to excessive speed, driver fatigue or tailgating by a massive battering ram barreling down the highway.  The traveling public is unaware of the danger until it is too late and there is another preventable death, paralysis or brain injury.

If you or a loved one is in need of our expert trial lawyer services, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We are a member of the International Society of Primerus Law Firms and the only Primerus Consumer Law Institute firm (Trial lawyers for injured people) for the state of Minnesota. We will advocate for you and your family and we are paid a percentage of your recovery only if we recover money damages for you.

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