Recent Cases & Insights

Trucking Company Settles Accident Causing TBI

A truck owned and operated by SAIA disregarded a traffic light on a 2014 January morning in Milwaukee because the driver was too busy cleaning ice from his front windshield. Distracted driving resulted in a severe T-bone collision. Despite the obvious negligent act, the company resisted settlement before trial. At his deposition, the driver testified contrary to admissions made to the police and to SAIA. Despite notices and requests to depose SAIA supervisors who investigated the accident, the company delayed and ignored requests. Finally forced to mediation, SAIA was ready and the case settled for $260,000. The plaintiff suffered a mild TBI which had essentially resolved, along with several broken ribs and some facial scarring that had healed nicely, fortunately. Greg Cook was selected by referring counsel to act as trial counsel in the matter.

McDowell v. SAIA Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Insurance Companies Sued for Water Fire and Storm Damage to Homes

More often in these economic times well recognized insurance companies are increasing efforts to either minimize or deny first party claims for property losses caused by fire, windstorm, hail, and other casualties well-defined as covered items in their policies. Even when conceding coverage, companies then attempt to reduce the fair cost of restoration by hiring pre-selected contractors who have a reputation to produce low bids and less that workmanlike results. The property owner is told that he can hire his own contractor but the company stipulates that it will never pay more than what its selectied contractor has estimated the work to be. In some cases, the insurer initially grants coverage but when its insured complains that the scope and cost of repairs are unreasonably low, it tries to justify the inadequate scope of restoration by hiring "experts" of its choice to provide reports in support of a position it has already asserted. These actions are usually done in disregard of its duty to act in good faith and to provide fair treatment toward claims it has been paid to indemnify. Please consider consulting an attorney whenever a large property loss has occurred. Greg Cook Law Offices provides free consultation on these cases. In those cases that are accepted, successful settlements usually are obtained.

Varnes v. Erie Insurance Company Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Schuessler v. Erie Insurance Company Fond du Lac County

Turley v. Western National Insurance Milwaukee County

Jerzak v. American Family Insurance Brown County

Subert v. American Family Home Insurance Iron County

Dog Bite Cases Involving Minor Children

The ownership of a dog can bring joy and happiness into a home. But it also carries with it a responsibility to care and treat for the animal, including proper training and obedience. When a dog causes injury to anyone, especially a child, the owner is liable under law. Most homeowner policies now contain provisions that a homeowner must adhere to in case of damage claims. Thus it is critical that every owner take steps to insure against injury. In 2016, Greg Cook Law Offices handled the case of a minor child who suffered scarring as a result of not one, but two injuries by the same dog in an eight week period. The child’s mother was not capable of providing competent child care, for various reasons. The owner claimed to authorities that he was going to get rid of the dog after the first attack. He did not do so. After the second bite, the child’s grandmother was able to provide a more safe environment in order to prevent any further danger. The case could not be settled before suit. The referring attorney hired Greg Cook to litigate the case. A few weeks before trial, the insurer agreed to settle and a minor child settlement was approved by the court.

Terms of settlement confidential Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Plane Crash Caused by Faulty Inspection Settled

A fixed base operator (FBO) was hired to service and inspect the plaintiff’s new single engine aircraft. An annual inspection was performed along maintenance being performed on the fuel tanks. The plaintiff was seriously injured in a forced landing when the plane suffered fuel starvation after only a few hours of operation since the FBO had completed the work. NTSB concluded that the fuel line had come loose during flight. The insurer for the defendant adamantly denied that any work had been done near the fitting and that the fitting had been properly inspected and tightened, alleging it must have come loose from the impact of the crash. Discovery depositions and expert testimony proved the contrary. Not only had the fitting been improperly inspected, the maintenance employee had removed the fitting when testing for fuel capacitance. Despite this, the carrier resisted settlement, offering less than the medical expenses at mediation. Shortly before trial, the insurance carrier capitulated, paid the policy limits and the case was settled. Greg Cook Law Offices assisted retained counsel on the case.

Terms of settlement confidential U.S. District Court for E.D. Wisconsin

Denial of Death Benefits by Life Insurance Company

The death of a loved one causes an emotional loss that is hard to overcome. Making matters worse is the denial of death benefits by a company based on alleged misrepresentations in an insurance policy. In this case, the deceased had applied for insurance and indicated he had never been treated for C.O.P.D. and obstructive airway condition. After he was killed, the Mutual of Omaha’s affiliate insurer obtained his treatment records and claimed that he lied in his application, finding a reference in a note by a treating doctor that stated "possible COPD." It then claimed that had it known it would not have issued the policy. This was untrue. Had it known, the company would simply have included a rider that would prevent payment only if the policy holder died of COPD within two years of the inception date. In this case, the death had nothing to do with COPD. The beneficiary retained Greg Cook to sue the company. A lawsuit was brought, including claims for bad faith and breach of contract. When the company successfully moved for summary judgment to dismiss the bad faith portion, it promptly settled for a confidential amount plus 12% interest from the date of denial pursuant to the rule regarding timely payment of claims, Wisconsin Statute 628.46. The denial of the bad faith was contested, but a federal judge ruled that the company had an objective basis for contesting the claim, even though it was incorrect.

Smith v. Mutual of Omaha

Terms of settlement confidential U.S. District Court for E.D. Wisconsin

Advertising Sign Defectively Installed Causes Water Damage to Building

A giant billboard with an advertising sign on top of the client’s building was improperly installed years before the building was purchased by the Rosenberg family. They spend hundreds of thousands in remodeling, making the first floor a venue for the best soccer tavern in the city. On a November night in 2015, rain invaded the second and first floors. The sign company, a national concern out of Texas, initially offered to pay for the damages. But when it received the scope of work, it balked. Greg Cook Law Offices was retained to commence suit. After a year of litigation and several depositions, the clients obtained a six-figure settlement. The terms of the lease, while ambiguous, were sufficient to cause concern, and despite the fact that the company had never paid attorney fees, it avoided that in this case by settling before trial.

Terms of settlement confidential Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Sexually Transmitted Disease Claims

When a marital partner or significant other transfers an SDT to their partner because of illicit contact with others, and the person who sustains injury as a result has never been made aware of the risk, a case can be made for the physical and emotional damage caused by such reckless behavior. The cases require medical testimony establishing a causal connection. Most insurance policies will exclude damages caused by transmission of sexual diseases. But if the wrongful party is collectable, or the marital assets are significant, then a viable case can be brought. This case involved a wealthy spouse who had secretly maintained an affair with a co-worker, and in the process transmitted an SDT. The innocent spouse only discovered the SDT when treated by a doctor for an unrelated matter. The divorce action contained a claim for those damages caused by the transmission; the client was successful in obtaining a recovery in excess of 50% of the marital assets resulting from the tortious conduct of the adulterous spouse. Greg Cook has co-counseled with attorneys in cases involving these very sensitive topics and will provide free consultation in the appropriate case.

Terms of settlement confidential

David Berg Joins Firm

David J. Berg has joined Greg Cook Law Offices on an of counsel capacity. David currently works as a lawyer and legal writer providing legal research and writing services to small firm lawyers nationwide in areas of civil and criminal pre- and post-trial procedure and substantive law. He is a skilled legal writer, having written hundreds of successful trial and appellate motions, objections, and briefs in courts all around the country on numerous aspects of civil and criminal law and procedure.

David spent almost two decades at the maritime personal injury firm of Latti & Anderson LLP in Boston, where, in addition to general personal injury cases, he represented injured commercial fishermen, merchant mariners, marine construction workers, longshoremen, pleasure boaters, and cruise ship, ferry, and whale watch passengers in federal and state courts nationwide.

After more than two decades practicing law in Boston and New Hampshire, David relocated to Milwaukee several years ago with his wife, who was attending graduate school at UWM. As part of his practice, he serves as a volunteer attorney representing veterans through the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program in appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

David is currently an active member of the Wisconsin State Bar and the Bars of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the First, Fourth, Seventh, and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

He will continue his private practice while offering consultation to the Cook firm in many matters.