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Serving all of Montana for over 25 years

Bliven Law Firm, P.C. is a Montana personal injury law firm located in Northwest Montana serving all of Montana. A group of experienced, dedicated professionals who care about their clients’ needs. Our Montana personal injury attorneys have over 25 years of experience in aggressively pursuing the goals of our clients.

ICY ROADS CAUSE SEVERAL CRASHES IN BOZEMAN

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.

ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AGAINST GLACIER HIGH SCHOOL MONTANA, HOW CAN CIVIL LAW PROTECT OUR CHILDREN

811asu055a-300x184Back 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.

KALISPELL CAR ACCIDENTS ARE ON THE RISE

Car Accidents in Kalispell have increased by 200 in the past year according to the Kalispell Police Department.

For more information, click here.

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.

SEMI-TRUCK DRIVER DRIVING THE WRONG DIRECTION LIKELY ON DRUGS

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.

SOY PROTEIN BURGERS RECALLED

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.

For more information, click here.

SPICE PRAWNS RECALLED BECAUSE OF SULFITES

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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RITE AID COOKIE TINS MAY CONTAIN BACILLUS CEREUS

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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KOOL RANCH KALE CHIPS RECALLED

Rhythm Superfoods, LLC is initiating the voluntary recall of a limited quantity of KOOL RANCH KALE CHIPS, UPC/SKU code 8 29739 00052 1. A quantity (approx. 2,700 cases) of KOOL RANCH KALE CHIPS containing cashews was inadvertently placed into packaging that did not declare cashews as an ingredient and possibly shipped to retail locations nationwide. People who have an allergy, or a severe sensitivity to cashews, run a risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. Because the mislabeled product contains cashews, an allergen, Rhythm Superfoods is strongly advising consumers who are allergic to cashews and who have purchased the recalled product not to consume it to avoid the possibility of a serious allergic reaction.

For more information, click here.

NIKE SANDWICHES RECALLED BECAUSE OF HEALTH RISK

Landshire of St. Louis, MO is expanding its recall of the Nike Sandwich as a precautionary measure to include the addition of the Nike Super Poor Boy Sandwich as well as increased production dates of the Nike All-American Sandwich. The expanded recall includes 17,305 cases. The products may contain Listeria Monocytogenes. Listeria Monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
The initial recall was issued on October 20, 2011.

The Nike All-American sandwiches were distributed Nationwide at Convenient Stores, Wholesale Food Distributors and Retail Supermarkets.

The sandwich subject to the recall is: Landshire Nike All-American and Landshire Nike Super Poor Boy. This is a pre-packaged, individually wrapped sandwich. Sandwich weight is 7.25ounces (206grams). The Nike All-American UPC code is 0 9748801741 5 and the Nike Super Poor Boy UPC code is 0 9748800001 1. The Nike Super Poor Boy sandwich may also be sold in a 2 count pack and an 8 count pack. The 2 count pack Nike Super Poor Boy UPC code is 0 9748800765 2 and the 8 count pack Nike Super Poor Boy UPC code is 0 9748800712 6.

TURKISH PINE NUTS RECALLED DUE TO POSSIBLE SALMONELLA CONTAMINATION

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is recalling approximately 5,000 lbs. of Turkish Pine Nuts sold in the Bulk Foods department of most Wegmans stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland between July 1 and October 18, 2011 due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The bulk Turkish Pine Nuts have been linked to an outbreak of illness from Salmonella Enteritidis, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. Illness onset is typically 12 to 72 hours after consumption.

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