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Recent Cases & Highlights

Total Quality Logistics v. Baer et al - National transportation broker filed suit against a local hay broker for unpaid loads in excess of $40,000.00. Baer defended by stating that the invoices relied upon were not the charges agreed to between himself and the Plaintiff's representative. Further, at trial, Defendant showed proof of several thousands of dollars of payments to Plaintiff for loads. Plaintiff offered additional charges to support its claim, but those charges could not be proven. The Court heard the matter in a bench trial and ruled in favor of Defendant.

Oatsvall-Sparks v. Oatsvall and Lamphere et al - Plaintiff sued the four defendants in this case for damages resulting from a bar fight. Plaintiff alleged the fight damaged her breast augmentation surgery, thus requiring a surgery to repair the damage. This office represented three of the four defendants and defended on the basis of estoppel, comparative fault, assumption of risk, and asserted bankruptcy protection. After a two year pretrial litigation phase, written discovery and depositions, the Plaintiff voluntarily consented to a dismissal with prejudice of all claims.

Felony Cases

  • Sex assault; two counts, facing 40 years; plea agreement 6-12 on 1 count; probation on the other
  • Sex assault; 20 year max; given probation and upon completion, the charge will be dismissed
  • Grand Larceny (auto); facing 10 years on each count; plea agreement — reduce each to misdemeanor, probation for two years.

Domestic Violence Case

  • Spousal abuse case; facing six months in jail and deportation; plea agreement — 6 months probation and dismissal upon completion

Personal Injury

In 2012, Mr. Learned represented a rail switching company against a plaintiff who sued for work-related injuries. The prestigious firm of Bates, Carey, Nicolades, LLP, from Chicago, Illinois, sought Mr. Learned to serve as local counsel. Mr. Learned, along with the Chicago firm, successfully defended the injury suit based on the inapplicability of the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and Wyoming Worker's Compensation law. The rail switching company was granted summary judgment in federal district court, and that ruling was upheld by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2013, another firm sought the assistance of Mr. Learned. Mr. Learned co-counseled the Romsa Law Office, P.C., in representing an injured plaintiff. The plaintiff was injured in a car crash. The crash involved primarily two drivers. Plaintiff proceeded through a lighted intersection on a green light. The other driver, the defendant (employed by a local auto parts store), failed to appreciate the red light facing him. The defendant entered the intersection without braking or slowing and collided with the plaintiff. The plaintiff suffered injuries to his cervical and thoracic spine. After discovery and depositions, the parties settled for $170,000.00.

In 2010, Mr. Learned negotiated settlements for his clients. In one case, the Plaintiff was a woman who worked for the local school district. While assisting to direct traffic at a congested school pick-up area, she injured her ankle. Her lawsuit alleged that the Defendant, a local teacher, was at the school to pick up his granddaughter and became frustrated at the traffic congestion and the efforts of the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant operated his vehicle in a manner that continually pushed the Plaintiff until she fell and broke her ankle. The Plaintiff required surgery and physical therapy. The lawsuit claimed negligence, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement and lost wages. The case settled without trial for $120,000.00.

In another case that year, a client struggled to receive benefits from his insurer relating to a truck bed camper. The client had insurance for his vehicle and the camper. The client was involved in a single-vehicle rollover accident causing damage to the truck and the camper. The issue involved whether coverage was available for the camper and under what policy. The insurance company insisted that no coverage was available under the automobile policy covering the truck. It further asserted that the client's homeowner's insurance was inapplicable because the camper was owned under a certificate of title. However, thorough research by Mr. Learned uncovered policy language under the homeowner's policy and statutory language that classified the camper as personal property. The insurance company conceded coverage and paid an actual cash value settlement of $20,000.00.

Family Law-Divorce

In 2012, Attorney J. James Learned represented a woman in her 60's in a divorce action. She was married to her husband for nearly 32 years. The couple owned significant real estate in Wyoming, and each party successfully owned a small business. The couple amassed a marital estate worth approximately $1.3 million. Mr. Learned negotiated a settlement for his client that amounted to just over $700,000.00.

Criminal-Traffic Citations

In 2011 a client was cited for speeding on an interstate highway. The issues in the case involved the presence of another vehicle with a high degree of acceleration and the limited functionality of the radar unit used by the Wyoming Highway Patrol. The patrol vehicles use a radar system that has forward facing and rear facing sensors to detect the speed of vehicles. For each sensor, the radar unit displays a read-out for the fastest speed and the strongest signal. The unit is incapable of determining the identity of any vehicle operating at a given speed. In this case, the trooper testified at trial that he had a week's worth of training on the operation and calibration of the unit and that the trooper must make the determination of which vehicle is speeding. The client testified that he was certified in the calibration of computer chips for diesel trucks and that his vehicle could not have been traveling at the rate of speed alleged by the trooper. The court in a bench trial ruled in favor of the client based on the strength of the testimony by the client and the uncertainty of the trooper's use of the radar unit.

Also in 2011, a client was cited for Driving While Under the Influence of alcohol. First, citizens must know that law enforcement must have an independent basis to stop a vehicle. For example, law enforcement must observe some violation of law such as failing to maintain a single lane of travel or running a stop sign. In this case, law enforcement conducted a stop for an alleged failure to maintain a single lane of travel while negotiating a turn at an intersection. From there, law enforcement asked the client to exit the vehicle and perform standardized field sobriety tests. The client, despite appearing to perform the tests well (per the video obtained from the dash-mounted camera in the cruiser), was arrested for DWUI. The issue in the case became whether probable cause existed for law enforcement to conduct the stop in the first place. After months of requesting applicable pieces of discovery and a motion hearing demonstrating a complete lack of any basis to conduct the underlying traffic stop, the State of Wyoming dismissed the charges.

Family Law-Custody

In 2013, Mr. Learned succeeded in modifying custody based on the best interest of the child. The child reported having several fears and nightmares about visits with the non-custodial parent. The child attended counseling sessions on a weekly basis. The counselor received information from the custodial parent but rarely ever had any contact with the non-custodial parent. The counselor testified in court that the non-custodial parent failed not only to participate in the treatment as requested but clearly was, at a minimum, not taking steps to alleviate the concerns and anxieties of the child. Consequently, the Court ruled that visitation should be modified until such time as the counselor could determine that the needs of the child were being met.

Family Law-Child Support

In 2013, Mr. Learned addressed an often overlooked area of child support law. The client sought modification of support based on changing circumstances beyond a simple change in income. The opposing party moved to dismiss the case for untimeliness and failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The opposing party argued that the party seeking to modify child support must wait at least six months from the entry of the previous order. However, Mr. Learned accurately pointed out that the statute authorizing modifications to child support allow a party to seek a change at any time when the change is based on circumstances other than merely changes to income. The motion to dismiss was denied, and the case is currently pending.

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