Recent Cases & Insights

Farmer Suffers Injuries Affecting Ability to Milk Herd

Driving back to his farm one day, Mr. Albrecht was rear ended by an uninsured vehicle at highway speeds while he was waiting to turn left onto his road. His knee was jarred severely since his foot was on the break. He started to experience problems with the knee immediately and went to see his chiropractor. Eventually he was referred to a surgeon who performed repair of his ACL. The first party insurer who provided UM (Uninsured Motorist) coverage undervalued the claim; it argued he had not struck his knee against the dashboard. It pointed to medical records for treatment of gout. It took the filing of a lawsuit in circuit court by Greg Cook Law Offices before the carrier agreed to settle the case at mediation for $120,000.

Albrecht v. Rural Mutual Insurance       Fond du Lac County

Grain Bin Death Cases Becoming More Common

Farmers and elevator companies as well as ethanol plants store millions of bushels of grain each year. The way the product is controlled and preserved is critically important. If the grain becomes out of condition, it can be difficult to remove from the bins. Some bins hold over a half million bushels. In some cases, workers have become engulfed "walking down" the grain in order to allow it to flow. Once trapped under the grain, it becomes a life and death struggle. In cases filed in the Midwest, lawsuits have resulted in significant verdicts and settlements. Nationwide, the total number of deaths occurring in grain silos would surprise you. The public awareness of the danger to farmers and grain workers must never be forgotten.

Pedestrian Walking with Traffic at Night Fatally Injured

Heading home at night from the hospital on a divided multi-lane county road, a wife and mother of three was killed while walking on the right edge of the road in the same direction as traffic. She was struck by a vehicle approaching her from the rear, tossed in the air and critically injured. She languished in the hospital for a few days before dying. She left three minor children and a grieving husband. The insurer for the driver claimed the deceased was walking on the wrong side of the road in violation of municipal traffic regulations, and claimed she was in the act of crossing the road when struck. Forensics revealed this was not the case. Two witnesses who had driven in the same direction just minutes before had seen the woman on the far edge of the road and had easily avoided her. The driver of the car retained an attorney to defend on potential traffic charges. The driver was not charged with a violation eventually but had admitted she never saw the pedestrian. The family of the deceased retained the firm of Greg Cook Law Offices and Carlson, Blau and Clemons. A demand for the policy limits was made. Once the insurer for the driver admitted that the case was a potential "50-50" result, it did not take long to receive full policy limits from both the driver’s insurance and the UIM [underinsured motorist] carrier providing coverage on the deceased pedestrian. The case settled for $500,000, the available limits of insurance. Despite initial indications that it was a defensible case, both carriers realized the adverse consequences of losing a wrongful death case under these facts and settled promptly.

Names of parties kept confidential at the request of the surviving spouse

Pedestrian Struck by Driver With Mistaken Impression of the Law

Ms. Litjens was operating her bicycle legally on the streets of Milwaukee in the downtown district as she approached the intersection of Buffalo and Water Streets. She had a green light and proceeded through. She was struck on her left by a car in the act of turning and was tossed to road. The driver, a naturalized citizen from Japan, argued with the police that she had the right of way, the bicycle should have but did not yield to her. Despite having a valid license, the cultural background of the driver (an elderly woman who had survived the bombing of Hiroshima), led her to believe that she had no duty to yield and hence the accident was not her fault. The law is clear, a motorist must yield to another vehicle of any type when turning across its path. Litjens went through several years of conservative therapy but eventually was required to undergo surgery to replace damaged disks in her back. She retained the services of Greg Cook Law Offices and a lawsuit was commenced. The carrier tried to impeach an eye witness as well as the plaintiff at both their depositions, but to no avail. The deposition of the driver was conducted wherein she continued to state her mistaken assumption of the law. Following that, the case went to mediation and settled for $450,000.

Litjens v. Erie Insurance       Milwaukee County

Fire Loss Leads to EUO and Lengthy Negotiations

Mr. Zimanek owned a home in Green Bay that suffered an accidental fire. It was wholly destroyed. Upon meeting the adjuster for the company, he was immediately befriended and told that he would be taken care of. This turned out to be false, as the carrier was investigating the remote possibility of arson. Lengthy negotiations occurred, he was required to given an examination under oath, and could not obtain a fair payout on his personal property and other coverages. He hired the firm of Greg Cook Law Offices and a lawsuit was commenced. Following extensive negotiations, the case was settled to his satisfaction.

Zimanek v. American Family        Milwaukee County

Family and Building Inspector Forced to Defend Raze Order Successfully, Insurance Carrier Subsequently Sued for Bad Faith

The Repka family home was struck by tornado winds and damaged. Torrential rains soaked the interior. The local building inspector eventually declared the home a total loss. Barron Mutual retained a local adjuster to deal with the Repkas. The adjuster failed to treat them fairly. The local contractor selected by Barron was not well versed in repair work, was slow to respond, and was unable to perform the necessary work due to lack of skilled workers, lack of time and lack of enthusiasm. After the raze order was issued by the building inspector, Barron hired an attorney who retained an engineer to testify that it would be unreasonable to tear the home down. Barron sued the Repkas and the building inspector seeking an injunction to prevent the property from being razed. The Repkas retained Greg Cook Law Offices. After defeating the injunction following a one-day hearing, the Repkas asserted that Barron had committed bad faith in the handling of their claim. The matter settled at mediation for a confidential sum. The Repkas obtained payments enough to allow them to build a new home, pay their attorneys and their adjusters.

Barron Mutual v. Repka       Barron County

William Gleisner Joins Firm of Counsel

William Gleisner, who has written more briefs before the Wisconsin Supreme Court than any other appellate attorney, has joined the firm of Greg Cook Law Offices and will act of Counsel to provide his unique skills for the firm’s clients on a number of cases. Gleisner is a long-time member of the Wisconsin Judicial Counsel. His addition to the Cook firm is of great value.

Insurer Refuses to Adhere to Raze Order

The Martin family suffered a devastating fire and obtained a raze order on their structure. The insurer provided a "guaranteed replacement cost" policy. However, its adjuster told the Martins that an engineering report supported its position that the Martins could still use the basement foundation and the chimney of the old home and refused to pay for the new costs on these elements. This position was challenged in court after the Martins retained Greg Cook Law Offices. After suit and legal briefing were accomplished, the carrier agreed to pay full policy limits, attorney fees, interest on funds withheld, public adjusting fees, and consequential damages incurred by the Martins.

Martin v. Erie Insurance        Milwaukee County

Boating Cases in Wisconsin

On several cases, owners of pleasure craft have retained the services of Greg Cook Law Offices. Mr. Strautmanis suffered the near sinking of his 43-foot power boat because the local marina had failed to properly secure the washer nut to a fitting around the power shaft. Mr. Strasser suffered a sinking of his ski boat when another boat ran over his tow rope with his propeller. In reversing the engine, the rope tightened around the shaft and sank Strasser’s boat. Both Strautmanis and Strasser needed legal help in order to recover their losses from the insurers. The firm of Greg Cook Law Offices has maritime experience in the name of David Berg, who practiced on the east coast of the United States for many years. He serves of Counsel to the firm.

Strautmanis v. CNA
Strasser v. Progressive

Water Damage Claim Summarily Denied, Settled for Full Costs and Attorney Fees

Mr. and Mrs. Salza have a beautiful home with expensive flooring. They suffered a water loss due to an appliance and American Family adjusted it while paying for the complete repair to the flooring for thousands of dollars. When reinstalling a dishwasher, a contractor "pinched" a supply line. Several months later, that line failed and caused more extensive damage due to water. Because the Brazilian wood flooring had been sanded and stained once before due to the prior loss, it needed to be replaced. Upon investigation of the loss the claim was summarily denied by the adjuster for the insurer. A written denial was sent. The Salza family complained and offered to show the damaged item. To no avail, they were forced to hire Greg Cook Law Offices. Upon filing the case and learning the facts surrounding the denial, the carrier agreed to pay for the full loss, the public adjuster fees, and the legal fees.

Salza v. American Family Insurance       Waukesha County

David Styer Joins Firm of Counsel

David L. Styer has joined Greg Cook Law Offices. David has nearly 40 years’ experience in dealing with worker injuries. David retired from his former firm where he served as a shareholder since the late 1980’s. His experience in dealing with worker related injuries is well known and respected throughout the state. He will serve of Counsel on selected matters with the firm.