Last night on the drive to Whitefish from Kalispell on the relatively newly completed 4 lane Highway 93 North “expressway” to Whitefish during rush hour, on an icy surface, raised concerns. The concerns include the Highway West Project, overall Montana Highway Safety and auto accident prevention planning.
All four lanes of Highway 93 North to Whitefish, were packed car to car, truck to car, without a barely a car length between each traveling at the brisk speed of 70 miles per hour + on an icy road. I observed vehicles with bald tires and can only presume a fair number of uninsured drivers constituent with Montana DOT statistics. In an attempt to slow down to the speed limit of 65, I was tailgated and practically run off the road. One deer or car crossing the road at Happy Valley would have caused in my opinion at least an Eight-vehicle pile up, with likely fatality.
Granted it was 5:30 p.m. rush hour. Nonetheless this raised questions. I recall when two lanes from Kalispell to Whitefish were more than sufficient and seemed safer. As a result I looked into the population statistics and found that the population of the City of Whitefish has grown an astounding 45% since 1990. This does not even include the out of city, growth areas.
My family has lived in the Flathead for 18 years. We live close to Whitefish. Our family and children are involved in the Whitefish community, along with family relatives. I have been helping Whitefish families and individuals by providing representation as a personal injury attorney along with business and family matters. We handle many insurance claims from Whitefish due to our Whitefish family and involvement in the community.
For a change I wanted to try express my own concerns about the crowding conditions on highway 93 North in Whitefish and the trends that my research seems to indicate are occurring. My family drives on Highway 93 North to Whitefish almost every day of the week. I want to bring awareness to the dangers of the high-speed rush hour before the wrongful death or serious injury case of a friend, relative or client.
While our accident lawyers have recovered Millions in settlements including Whitefish Auto Accident Injury victims and those injured by Drunk Drivers in and around Whitefish, Montana Law only compensates personal injury victims with money damages. It does not reverse the serious permanent injuries or wrongful death that results from dangerous road conditions.
The first factor I looked at was population increase. There is a steady trend for the Whitefish area having the highest population growth in the County. Second I factored in the Montana Department of Transportation road safety information about Highway 93 North in the Whitefish area.
Due to the alarming incident of automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents in the Highway 93 North corridor between Kalispell and Whitefish the Montana Department of Transportation has designated this area a “High Crash Enforcement Corridor”. Montana DOT Drunk Driving Accident report for 2010 indicates there remains a substantial drunk driving problem for the Whitefish Highway 93 North corridor, which was also considered in the designation. The map and more information may be located athttp://www.mdt.mt.gov/publications/docs/brochures/safety/current_chsp.pdf
The final factor I considered in my analysis is the Whitefish West Project which has resulted in a Whitefish downtown traffic juggernaut. However, when completed it will result in another 5 mile expressway from downtown Whitefish out to Twin Bridges Road, milepost 133.
Over the years as I have traveled Highway 93 North and based anecdotally as a Whitefish accident lawyer I have notice that after the expansion initially traffic was very light. It is my belief that the improved road brought access to greater growth in the Whitefish area due to its connection to the higher paying jobs in Kalispell. With the expansion under the Whitefish Highway 93 corridor it would seem that further subdivision and growth will, over time result in more traffic accidents and serious accident injuries.
I enjoy visiting friends and family in Whitefish. Our family enjoys the community activities and we do our best to give back to the community. However, we have lived in Columbia Falls since starting my Montana Personal Injury practice 25 years ago, which is now Bliven Law Firm, P.C., Montana Trial Attorneys. I truly believe that Whitefish is a wonderful destination for Flathead County residents to enjoy the activities, visit relatives and participate in the community. I do not believe that you have to live there to be involved or enjoy all that Whitefish has to offer.
My primary concern as a Whitefish Injury Lawyer is that people are moving into Whitefish and the Whitefish area to enjoy the amenities. The result will be a much more dangerous highway 93 North and Whitefish West expressway. I do not want to see anymore, friends, relatives or clients from Whitefish killed or injured on a dangerous highway.
With all of the construction occurring and roadblocks I am beginning to avoid the frequent trips to Whitefish, which are for recreational activities. My final thought which is much less important than Montana Highway accidents and injuries, was whether, too much growth, will divert other Flathead Residents to competing communities with similar amenities. Only time will tell whether too much of a good thing will spoil the small old west town atmosphere Whitefish has offered in the past.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to eat certain ASSI Brand frozen oysters from Korea following an outbreak of illness in Washington state caused by norovirus.
• The frozen oyster meat (shucked; not in shell), is packed in 3-lb bags . Each bag is labeled ASSI Brand “INDIVIDUALLY QUICK FROZEN OYSTER” with a “Better if Used By” date of “2013.02.232.” Each bag identifies Central Fisheries Co. Ltd., as the packer and Korean Farms of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., as the distributor. Korean Farms has voluntarily agreed to recall these oysters.
• The individual bags are shipped in boxes of 10 bags each with the lot number C-110223, appearing on each shipping carton , along with a “SHUCKED DATE: 2011.02.24.
• These oysters, which were served in a Washington state restaurant and were eaten by three people who became ill, have been sampled and tested positive by FDA for norovirus genotypes I and II.
Norovirus causes acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). The most common symptoms are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. The illness often begins suddenly and norovirus can make people feel extremely ill with frequent vomiting and diarrhea. Most people get better within 1 to 2 days. Dehydration can be a problem among some people with norovirus infection, especially the very young, the elderly, and people with other illnesses.
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Flathead County Deputy Coroner Jordan White says that Joel Lewis Coyle, 57, of Kalsipell was pronounced dead at the scene of the two vehicle wreck that happened at about 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
Two trucks collided head on Highway 2 east, near Birch Road. Coyle’s pickup apparently crossed the divider and two lanes of traffic before colliding head on with a silver Dodge pickup. The driver and passenger in that vehicle were both rushed to the hospital.
“He apparently died on impact,” said Undersheriff Jordan White. “We’re continuing, in cooperation with the Highway Patrol, to figure out the circumstances around this and to determine if alcohol or medical factors or anything else contributed to this crash.”
Icy Roads were to blame for causing 27 crashes in Bozeman on Saturday. At least nine of those were hit and run car accidents according to Bozeman Police.
For over 25 years, Bliven Law Firm, P.C. has been helping innocent victims of Montana Car Accidents including those caused by icy conditions. Even if you have been the victim of a hit and run, you still may be able to recover insurance proceeds. If you have been involved in a hit and run, or icy road accident in Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Missoula, or Kalispell or anywhere else in Montana, contact the law offices of Bliven Law Firm, P.C. for a free case evaluation.
Back to School Law: Accusations of assault and sexual assault on a Glacier High School bus, how can Montana Civil Law protect students?
There are many harmful school yard incidents that seem to be on the increase right here in Montana, including Kalispell, Columbia Falls and Whitefish. This leads to vulnerability among the younger students along with escalating risk of injury or harm.
The focus of this article is student upon student assault and sexual assault along with the duties of the Kalispell School District under Montana Civil Law. Strong anti-bullying and anti-hostile student environment policies are important but do not help if not properly enforced in a prioritized common sense manner. While I have no specific evidence of failure to enforce policies in the Glacier High Bus assault case, one student accused of serious assault has already been returned back to school. While possession of tobacco or marijuana merit immediate suspension and expulsion it appears that allegations of sexual assault and assault do not.
It is my opinion that assault and sexual assault upon another should warrant the suspension and if proven after investigation, expulsion on a much higher priority basis. If the local Flathead County School Districts fail to prioritize their enforcement of harassment policies, then the more serious incidents will result in severe injuries. In this case, physical and permanent emotional harm to the victims of the alleged assault and sexual assault likely occurred all on a supervised Glacier High School Football Team bus trip.
The parents of Students according to the Daily Interlake and other unnamed sources state their opinion that the Glacier High School officials are trying to “make this go away” or “sweep it under the rug”. In my effort to be fair to our hard working teachers here in Kalispell and the Flathead, I contacted Kalispell School District Superintendent Darlene Schottle, who refused to respond.
Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan has filed some criminal charges in the case. Under Montana Law, pending investigations and other criminal investigative information is confidential under the Montana Confidential Criminal Justice Act. Therefore, Flathead County Attorney, Ed Corrigan would be limited in any substantive comment he could make until the matter moves to trial. Further charges may be on the way since investigations are ongoing and are confidential until the charge is filed.
Therefore, I will examine how our Montana civil justice system may assist in protecting the most vulnerable of our students through an examination of Montana and Federal Civil School Law. Once again, the focus of this article is student upon student, harassment and assault.
In most cases involving civil suits against a school district, its employees and agents are provided under our United States Constitution protection from liability under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This comes from the common law where the State is considered the “King” and a subject may not sue his “King.” States may waive this immunity under the tort claims act and statute. The legislature has provided as follows: Every governmental entity is subject for its torts and the torts of its employees, §2-9-102 MCA. There are exceptions for police officers and others. The Montana Legislature decides these issues. As a result of the above statute, tort claims for negligent supervision, violation of policy, negligent infliction of emotional distress and Negligence among other claims may be asserted against Glacier High School. The agents and employees would not be personally liable but if a suit was successful, the Kalispell School District would have the duty to defend and pay the damages in the case of any judgment based upon negligence theories.
The Seminal Case on this subject from the Montana Supreme Court is the case of S.M., et al. v. R.B. an individual, and Missoula School District No. 1., 261 Mont. 552. The facts of this case involved a four year old special education student who suffered sexual assault by the hands of a third party bathroom aide. The Court ruled that the legal issue involved whether the teacher or other school personnel knew or should have known of the sexual assault.
To apply the fact to this case, one must speculate as to what may be developed in a civil suit through discovery. This process involves investigation, taking statements and depositions. If the facts showed that coaches on the Glacier High School bus knew the other members of the Glacier Football Team had engaged in hazing and harassment of the younger freshmen previously, then it would be reasonable they protect against assault or sexual assault may occur. The Kalispell School District could also be liable for violating its own harassment policy, even if a prior hazing event were less severe.
The Kalispell School District may also be liable for the Glacier Bus Assaults on the grounds of simple negligence. The standard for negligence is what actions a reasonable person would under the circumstances to protect physical or mental injury to children. All of the coaches sat in the front of the bus. If the coaches were aware of hazing or harassment in the past, it would seem unreasonable not to separate the coaches on different areas of the bus for supervision. To leave freshman members of a football team with older students on a bus without chaperone may be considered negligent, if school employees knew or should have known something inappropriate would happen. In my opinion, if a harassment policy were followed, then the escalation would not have occurred. Therefore the Kalispell School District may be held liable for negligent supervision and negligence. If found liable, substantial damages for physical and mental injury may be awarded by a jury or judge.
The Glacier High bus assaults may also implicate Federal Law under Title IX. Title IX is part of the civil rights act, which requires equal protection and due process. The Courts are split on this particular situation, student upon student assault. Several Courts around the County have held, “a safe school environment includes the absence of sexual harassment and discrimination.” Citing Lenz School Security on Student Harassment and Bullying. Under Title IX, a student, through his parent, may make a claim and receive remedial action and damages along with attorney’s fees. Moreover, a Complaint to the Federal Department of Education may result in a review of the Kalispell School Districts Title IX funding.
As a counter argument, the facts may conclude that there were no prior incidents, nor any reason to believe that such behavior would occur. All of the students may have been well behaved at all times in front of staff. If no reports were made then the assaults may not have been foreseeable. This is an issue for a jury to decide. It is unfortunate that our hard working teachers are taking a lot of heat for the tortuous actions of other children whom they supervise. Only a thorough proper and neutral investigation will sort this out.
As a result of the Title XI funding issue, there may be a high degree of incentive to just “make this go away” quietly. The silence from Superintendent Darlene Schottle is deafening. Nonetheless, all students and staff in the Kalispell, Columbia Falls and Whitefish School districts should be on notice that this behavior on a bus is foreseeable and there must be proper supervision. This again brings us back to priorities. While tobacco is very bad and should not be allowed, investigations of assault, sexual assault and harassment should take precedence over behavior which does not involve the immediate physical and mental harm of our students. I would also suggest that when assault is alleged, that a thorough third party neutral investigation takes place promptly, without delay. Hopefully through this article, and the collective action of the citizens of Flathead County, such an investigation with its results will be published without delay.
Car Accidents in Kalispell have increased by 200 in the past year according to the Kalispell Police Department.
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Kalispell Police Chief Roger Nassett said they can’t pin point a clear explanation, other than people just not paying attention. With winter just around the corner, Nassett said they’re concerned the number could go up even higher.
“People just are not attentive like they should be,” said Nassett. “They might also be hurrying more than they should be. Our town has grown. We’ve got a lot more stop lights than we used to, so people don’t account for the amount of time it’s going to take to get through town.
Bliven Law Firm, P.C., a Montana Law Firm located in Kalispell, has helped innocent victims of car accidents in Kalispell, Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Lakeside, Libby, Helena, Missoula, Great Falls, Billings and throughout Montana for over 25 years. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, our firm has the experience to help recover proceeds for your medical expenses and lost wages.
The Montana Highway Patrol arrested a semi-truck driver traveling the wrong direction on I-90. He was charged with felony endangerment and the Montana Highway Patrol said he was likely on drugs.
In 2009, more than 11,000 died because of impaired drivers from alcohol or drugs. If you have been in an accident with a drunk driver, or a driver on drugs, contact our office for a free case evaluation. Bliven Law Firm, P.C. has been helping innocent victims of drunk driving and drug driving accidents for over 25 years.
Gardenburger, LLC is recalling a limited quantity of Eating Right™ Soy Protein Burgers sold in Safeway, Carrs, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Pak ‘N’ Save, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Vons, and Pavilions retail stores nationwide because the packages inadvertently contained Eating Right™ Veggie Burgers, which contain milk. The label does not list milk as an ingredient. People who have allergies to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions and should not eat this product.
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PACIFIC OYSTER COMPANY, Bay City, Oregon announces a voluntary recall of 194 cases (873 lbs) of NATE’S SPICED PRAWNS, because it contains undeclared sulfites. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to sulfites run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.
The product was distributed from Pacific Oyster’s processing facility in Bay City, OR, to retailers in Oregon and Washington.
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Working in consultation with the United States Food and Drug Administration, Rite Aid has initiated a voluntary chainwide recall of approximately 85,000 tins of butter cookies distributed by Rite Aid under the Rich Fields brand name because of the possibility of contamination with Bacillus cereus. This microorganism may cause diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting; however, the possibility of serious adverse health consequences is remote.
This recall affects only 12 oz. tins featuring either a decorative castle or Christmas designs and sold exclusively in Rite Aid stores. Affected products can be identified by the UPC codes 01249596519 and 88411804619 located directly beneath the bar code on the bottom of each tin. No other Rich Fields or Rite Aid brand products are affected by this voluntary recall.
The recall was initiated after the company conducted quality testing on the affected product because of an uncharacteristic odor. Customers should not eat the cookies and can return them to any Rite Aid store for a full refund. Information regarding the recall is available online at www.RiteAid.com or by calling 1-800-RITE-AID Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST and Saturday from 9:30 to 6 p.m. EST.
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