Catherine Fleming

Spinal Cord Injury Law Blog

Washington State Association For Justice Blog

SCIAW Lauches Its New Site: New NonProfit Organization for Spinal Cord Injury Survivors & Supporters

The new nonprofit organization, the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Washington (SCIAW) SCIAWlogo_C_web.gifis pleased to announce its launch of its new site, provides resources for those surviving or supporting spinal cord injuries (SCI) with focus of those in Washington State. SCIAW’s parent organization is the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. 

In the fall of 2010, SKW partner Karen Koehler created SCIAW in association with Dr. Charles Bombardier, Ph.D, Project Director for the Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System; Vivian Moise, MD, the Medical Adviser/Director for the SCI Program at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital (Spokane, WA); Anthony Choppa, M.Ed, Owner of OSC Vocational Systems, Inc.; and Jesse Magana, spinal cord injury advocate.

SCIAW is a Washington State nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that supports all of the interests of SCI survivors, regardless of the cause of the injury or the severity of the impairment.

For more information and to donate, please visit today!

Defendant Tries To Dodge Responsibility Although Its Driver Was High

By Karen Koehler

In the evening of October 5, 2006, you have a few drinks and smoke a bowl of marijuana.   The next morning you get up early for your new job driving a truck for a window company.  What better way for you to start your day, than to smoke another bowl as you are walking out the door.  In fact, you like this routine so much that you start off every morning this way.

You get to work, get in your truck and head out.  In the middle of making deliveries, you decide to turn around.  You are on highway 99 and make a left turn intending to go around the block.  All of a sudden, your truck feels like it’s been struck by a bomb.  It lurches forward.  And you sit in your seat thinking.  Uh Oh.

You are scared to get out of your truck.  You have a pretty good idea what you’re going to see when you do.  You sit in your seat and get up the nerve to call your boss.  By now you can see other people rushing around and assume someone else has called 911.   Time seems to take forever and you don’t know how long you sit there.   Eventually you get out of your truck, walk around the right front end and stand there, looking down the length of it.  You can see the people huddling around something that looks like the back of a car.  The front of it is under the truck. 

Photo of Maislen's Car After Crash

You don’t walk up to see if you can help.  You don’t want to see whatever is in that wrecked red pile of shredded metal.  You stay right where you are until you can hear the sirens.  You back away.  Away from the dread of knowing that there is someone half under your truck.  You can barely see his outline.  And that’s the last time you ever see Marc Maislen.

Years pass, and it is April 2010 and you are in court.  Mr. Maislen has sued you.  The company’s insurance company does not offer enough to settle the case.  You are facing a full jury trial.  The insurance company at first tried to claim that Mr. Maislen was at fault.  For years, they denied that you were responsible.  Even though you gave the police your pot and pipe that were in your coat pocket.  Even though you admitted that you were high.  Even though you were convicted of a crime and went to jail.   The insurance company tried to blame him.  Until a few months before trial.  They decided they better admit fault.  They told the judge they would agree you caused the wreck.  But they also wanted to keep the jury from ever knowing that you were high.    

Juries are almost never told when a defendant is drunk or high so long as they admit fault.  But this case is different.  Mr. Maislen has post traumatic stress disorder.  Knowing that you were high when you almost killed him, has made him more fearful of driving.  It caused him panic attacks.  Judge Gonzales rules the jury needs to know the reasons why Mr. Maislen claims an injury, since your insurance company is fighting this.  And so on the first day of trial, the jury is told of your behavior.

Your insurance company is very upset.  They cannot believe the jury is being told you were high.  This almost never happens.   Instead of being able to have the jury look suspiciously at Mr. Maislen for bringing a lawsuit.  They are looking at you. 

Over the next several weeks, Mr. Maislen’s attorneys Karen Koehler and Mimy Bailey tell the jury the story of Mr. Maislen’s life.  All the bones and joints that were broken, the nerves that were blown away, the traumtic brain injury, and the emotional injuries.  Mr. Maislen was beloved by many.  Over thirty witnesses testify for him.  The insurance company hires experts to minimize Mr. Maislen’s claims.  But at the end of the day, the jury has the final say.  And they say that Mr. Maislen deserves a verdict for full justice.

About Us

This blog is maintained by attorneys at Stritmatter Kessler Whelan (SKW), focused on important legal issues, news, and developments... MORE

Add this blog to your feeds or subscribe by email using the form below.

Favorite Quotation

If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
— Proverbs 24:10

Intense love does not measure, it just gives.
— Mother Teresa

The test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.
— Pearl S. Buck

You may trod on me in the very dirt. But still, like dirt, I'll rise.
— Maya Angelou

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity.
— George Bernard Shaw

Without justice, courage is weak.
— Benjamin Franklin

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fairness is an across-the-board requirement for all our interactions with each other ...Fairness treats everybody the same.
— Barbara Jordan

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.
— Thomas Jefferson

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any equal hope in the world?
— Abraham Lincoln

I don’t know what kind of a future life I believe in, but I believe that all that we go through here must have some value.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

The basic proposition of the worth and dignity of man is the strongest, the most creative force now present in the world.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it is obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.
— James Madison

There is no truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.
— Thomas Jefferson