Gerry Spence and his team of trial lawyers have been fighting for regular people across this country over half a century. In a recent TEDx talk, Gerry told the story of what inspired him to never again protect the rich and powerful corporations of this country. That day, in a supermarket, facing an injured man who he had opposed in a trial not long before, Gerry realized that standing up for real people was more important than anything. That message has been the founding and guiding principle of the Spence Law Firm ever since. To this day, Gerry and the Spence Firm only represent people against powerful corporations and the government. This is his story:
After years of representing corporations and other powerful, rich clients, Gerry had wrapped up a typical case in which he represented the defendant against a refinery worker had been seriously injured due to the negligence … Read more
On August 19th, 2013, Jerry Justice was working as a vacuum truck driver and sent to remote location outside of Meeteetse, Wyoming, to assist Saga Petroleum in evacuating natural gas liquids from a pipeline. On the day he was injured, Saga Petroleum was running a “pig” through the natural gas pipeline when the pig became lodged at a valve junction. Due to inadequate planning, improper equipment and unsafe actions at the worksite, the job site filled with volatile gas vapors. The natural gas vapors ignited engulfing the worksite in a fireball, which severely burned Jerry Justice. Jerry suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his hands, arms, head and neck. He also suffered severe emotional trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the explosion. Grant Lawson and The Spence Law Firm represented Jerry and filed suit against defendants Saga Petroleum and Bower Petroleum in the Fifth … Read more
Breaking News. According to a report from the McKenzie County, North Dakota Sheriff’s Department, a well site explosion and fire this weekend in western North Dakota killed Wyoming worker Johny Stassinos, and burned and seriously injured three others. The Sheriff’s statement said Wyoming worker Richard Maheu, of Rock Springs, Daniel Montes, of Fruita, Colorado, and Justin Pyle, of Grand Junction, Colorado, were also injured in the explosion and fire on Saturday near Watford City, North Dakota.
XTO Energy, the well-site operator, is a Houston-based subsidiary of ExxonMobil. Preliminary investigation has indicated that a breach in the gas pipe may have ignited. Although this is the first reported oilfield-related fatality in 2016, such incidents are not uncommon in the oilfields in North Dakota or Wyoming. As The Spence Law Firm reported in October of 2015, when oil companies’ profits fall, companies sometimes spend less to protect workers. Workers face additional concerns … Read more
On April 29, 2016 Lawyers and Advocates for Wyoming, along with the Wyoming Trial Lawyer’s Association and the Equality State Policy Center hosted Wyoming’s 5th Annual Workers’ Memorial Day in Jackson, Wyoming. Workers’ Memorial Day has several important purposes. First, to pause and pay respect to the many Wyoming citizens who lost their lives while working. Second, to acknowledge the tremendous suffering experienced by family members affected by workplace tragedies. And finally, to inform State leaders, policy makers and the general public about the importance of promoting workplace safety.
Speakers at this year’s event included Representative Stan Blake from Green River, Kristeen Hand, a partner with the Spence Law Firm, SAFER and L.A.W. Director Mark Aronowitz, and Wyoming House District #56 Candidate and longtime workplace safety advocate Dan Neal. Kristeen Hand spoke of the serious risk workers in Wyoming face: “Remembering those that have died while working in Wyoming … Read more
We recently settled a civil rights wrongful death case in Waterloo, Iowa, for Derick Ambrose’s family. In 2012, a Waterloo, Iowa police officer shot and killed 22-year-old Derick Ambrose. He was unarmed. And black. This week Derick’s father, Derrick Ambrose Sr., authored an op-ed article in the Huffington Post, “Pursuing Justice for My Son, Another Unarmed Black Man Killed by Police.” In this powerful piece, Derick Sr. reveals: “The lawsuit settlement, believed to be the largest in Iowa history for a police shooting, will not bring back my son, but it may raise awareness of what is wrong with law enforcement in Iowa and around the nation. I hope Derrick’s death can be a catalyst for change in Waterloo and other American cities.”
We are proud of the work our team, including Mel Orchard, Noah Drew, and others, along with our Iowa co-counsel Tom Frerichs, were able to do to … Read more
Three members of the Spence team recently visited students in Cheyenne to discuss the dangers of distracted driving and safe biking.
In an effort to keep Wyoming roads and the families who drive on them safer, Spence partner and President of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association (WTLA) Emily Rankin along with associate attorneys Mark Aronowitz and Noah Drew spoke to students at East High School in Cheyenne. Working in conjunction with the WTLA, the attorneys educated new drivers on how taking their eyes off the road for just a few seconds can have serious, even fatal, consequences.
Rankin, Aronowitz and Drew walked the students through three types of distraction — visual, manual and cognitive — and described the differences between a safe driver and a lucky driver. The attorneys also tried to empower students by encouraging other drivers to remain focused and speak up for their own safety as passengers. … Read more
Fire-resistant crash systems have been available since 1977, but post-crash fires have resulted in at least 78 deaths since 1994
Helicopters have been unnecessarily igniting into flames after otherwise survivable crashes, killing passengers in post-crash fires, even though technology to prevent these fires has been available since 1977.
In the early 1970s, the United States military tested helicopter crashes and developed systems that virtually eliminated post-crash fires, so if a military helicopter were involved in a survivable crash, passengers could walk away. With the research and technology for these crashworthy systems completed, researchers noted as early as 1975 that the next logical step would be to bring these advancements to civilian helicopters, and no new scientific breakthroughs would be necessary to prevent these fires and subsequently save lives.
Despite the availability of fire-resistant systems at costs that are approximately 1 to 2 percent of the total cost of a helicopter … Read more
WATERLOO, Iowa, Jan. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The family of an unarmed 22-year-old man fatally shot by a Waterloo, Iowa police officer in 2012 has settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, according to his attorneys at The Spence Law Firm, LLC and the Frerichs Law Office, P.C.
Derrick Ambrose, Sr., a decorated U.S. Army sergeant major with service in Iraq and Afghanistan, raised questions in the litigation about the local and state investigations of the incident, the city police shooting review board, and the Black Hawk County, Iowa grand jury presentation to justify the shooting of his son, Derrick Ambrose, Jr. The killing was part of “a pattern of constitutional violations and deliberate indifference” regarding excessive force complaints against Waterloo police, the lawsuit alleged.
Under the settlement agreement, Mr. Ambrose and Toya Ambrose, Derrick Ambrose, Jr.’s mother, will receive $2.5 million before attorneys’ fees and court costs … Read more
The Spence Law Firm has filed a carbon monoxide poisoning related lawsuit seeking damages for a brain-injured truck-driver and his wife. The Complaint was filed in the District Court in Converse County, Wyoming. The case stems from a CO-poisoning incident where carbon monoxide (CO) leaked inside Foy’s semi-truck cab, in October 2013. Mr. Foye was chronically and acutely exposed to carbon monoxide while driving and sleeping inside the cab of the truck. Foye sustained serious injuries including a brain injury as a result of the CO exposure.
The Complaint alleges that the defendants negligently maintained, serviced, and/or repaired the truck that caused Mr. Foye’s injuries, and that they failed to warn him of the dangers. Mr. Foye claims that the truck engine generated CO which leaked from the exhaust system and entered the truck’s cab, poisoning Mr. Foye.
The CO poisoning incident caused Mr. Foye permanent and serious damages, including … Read more
We are saddened to share the news that Charles “Chuck” F. Wooden passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 1, 2015, of natural causes. Chuck was born in Wayne County, Michigan to loving parents, Carol and Charles Wooden, Sr. The family moved to Camp Davis in the Hoback Canyon in 1970. He graduated from Jackson Hole High School in 1980. He attended Casper College and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in criminal justice in 1985.
Chuck was an immensely important member of our Firm for nearly 30 years. His contributions were invaluable in many ways; he was valued and appreciated, and loved, by seemingly everyone who ever had the good fortune of working with him over the decades. Chuck was instrumental in developing cutting edge protocols for legal investigation and trial preparation. His work contributed to making the cars we drive safer. His efforts saved … Read more
With the price of oil sitting below $50 per barrel since late June (and briefly dropping below $40 for the first time since 2009), oil companies throughout the world are struggling to meet their financial targets. While this has provided relief at the pump during the summer vacation season, it is not all good news for the American public. As reported by several news outlets, the oil companies are addressing their falling profits by cutting back on spending, and one of the primary targets for budget cuts appears to be workplace safety.
The oil rigs in Wyoming and other states across the West are already some of the most dangerous workplaces in the country. With employers cutting back in areas that directly impact their employees’ safety, the problem may get worse before it gets better.
How Oil Prices Impact Worker Safety
While the oil companies’ profits are falling, they are … Read more
Three recent accidents at oil facilities in Wyoming highlight the risks that oil field workers and other individuals working in the oil and gas industry face on a daily basis. The explosions left three workers dead and five more injured as a result of differing causes. Like other recent incidents in Wyoming and other states throughout the West, these tragic accidents serve as stark reminders of the need for adequate safety protocols in what are widely recognized as some of the most dangerous working environments in America.
An explosion at the Hornbuckle ranch in Converse County killed three workers who were servicing a fuel line to a treatment facility owned by Samson Resources. The blast caused a fire that spread over roughly 10 acres before burning out. The victims worked for two subcontractors of … Read more
When you suffer serious injuries in a truck accident, the first step toward recovering compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages is to identify the party (or parties) responsible for causing the accident. Truck accidents are similar to other accidents in that they can have numerous possible causes – and as a result, there may numerous parties to blame – but they also have some unique aspects that can give victims additional opportunities to seek just compensation.
Who Can I Sue for Truck Accident Injuries?
The Truck Driver
Truck drivers are generally the most obvious sources of compensation for those who have sustained injuries in accidents involving 18-wheelers, tractor trailers and other types of trucks. Like other drivers, truck drivers face numerous distractions and with big rigs, it doesn’t take much for a simple driving error to cause a major highway collision. Truck drivers are required to … Read more
Like truck accidents, aviation accidents, and other serious incidents involving dangerous and complex equipment, in railroad accidents, there are numerous parties that could potentially be responsible for the victims’ losses.
Identifying the responsible parties – and then holding them accountable – is a task that starts with determining the cause of the accident. Each case is unique, but in many cases multiple contributing factors and various legal theories can work to impose liability on several parties for a single collision.
Common Causes of Railroad Accidents
Railroad accidents can have any number of different causes. From problems with tracks to maintenance issues with train cars, even relatively minor issues can quickly escalate into serious, life-endangering situations.
Determining the cause (or causes) of a railroad accident requires years of engineering and legal experience, and often involves the cooperation of a team of investigators, engineers, attorneys, and other professionals.
We couldn’t begin to … Read more
For the average person who suffers any type of serious injury, it can be difficult to quantify the full scope of financial losses stemming from the incident. Hospital bills from the emergency room visit are an obvious expense, as are the costs of any prescription or over-the-counter medications. But beyond these basic items, most people struggle to understand the true financial impact of being involved in a serious accident.
If we’re describing you, don’t worry. You are not alone. In fact, most clients meet with our personal injury lawyers have no idea what their claim is worth – or even if they have a claim at all. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge also leads many vehicle collision and other accident victims to forego seeking to enforce their legal rights at all. In the end, these people may end up paying for someone else’s negligence for years down the road – … Read more
The Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association (WTLA) and The Spence Law Firm, LLC, are proud to announce that partner Emily R. Rankin will serve as president of WTLA for the 2015-2016 term. Rankin takes over for former president and Casper trial lawyer Scott Olheiser.
Emily Rankin is a third generation Wyomingite and she became the first female partner to join the Spence firm, in 2009. Rankin graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts, and she graduated from the University of Wyoming College of Law. After clerking for the Wyoming Supreme Court, Rankin joined the Spence Law Firm.
“I am extremely honored to be a part of this great organization,” Rankin told WTLA members at her acceptance speech in Cody, Wyoming. ”I strongly believe in the civil justice system, and I am continually reminded that WTLA is the greatest protector of that system in Wyoming. I look forward … Read more
Breaking News: Reports from Cheyenne, Wyoming are describing that 3 men, welders believed to be working on Kaiser-Francis Oil Company equipment northeast of Wyoming’s capital, were severely burned and injured when natural gas exploded causing a flash fire on Monday morning August 10th. At least one of the injured workers was flown to the Western States Burn Center at the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colorado. The other two men were transported to the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.
The explosion, flash fire, and multiple hospitalizations trigger an automatic Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation because the event qualifies as a catastrophe. OSHA regulations define a catastrophe as “the hospitalization of three or more employees resulting from a work-related incident or exposure; in general, from an accident or an illness caused by a workplace hazard.”
The Spence Law Firm represents injured workers in Wyoming oilfield accidents, flash fires, … Read more
While police officers are granted broad powers to carry out their duties, these powers are not unlimited. To the contrary, they are subject to individuals’ Constitutional rights as citizens of the United States. As a U.S. citizen, you have the right to be free from abuses of governmental power and police misconduct.
Where police offers act reasonably, they are sometimes protected by legal immunity from suit. However, when the police cross the line between doing what is necessary and violating suspects’ Constitutional rights, they can – and should – be held accountable. Police are not immune from accountability when they act unreasonably or abuse their power.
Suing the Police for Violating Your Civil Rights
Victims of police misconduct can seek compensation under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Section 1983 specifically makes it illegal for the police to violate citizens’ civil rights under the Constitution.
If you … Read more
At The Spence Law Firm, our attorneys regularly represent clients in cases involving hazardous and dangerous working conditions Wyoming’s industrial mines, including Wyoming coal mine accidents, Wyoming trona mine accidents, and other work-site accidents. We also handle mining accident cases in other states throughout the West.
With decades of experience taking on some of the biggest industrial corporations in the country, we know what it takes to win compensation for victims and their families in these tragic – and often life-altering – situations.
As a mine worker, it is important to understand the risks involved in your vocation. According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over half of all nonmetal underground mining accidents involve falls and handling materials. Other common causes of mining accidents in Wyoming and throughout the West include:
• Co-worker negligence and mistakes by subcontractors or others
• Defective tools and machinery
• Electrocutions… Read more
Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because it is odorless, tasteless and colorless, and the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning sometimes mirror the symptoms of a variety of non-fatal illnesses. Some symptoms may come on slowly, so it can be difficult to link your health condition with exposure to carbon monoxide.
It is extremely important to learn about potential hazards for carbon monoxide poisoning. If you are exposed to carbon monoxide it is critical to seek medical attention immediately. Poisoning victims may also be entitled to pursue financial compensation for their injuries.
Sources of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide exposure is a serious risk that many people face without having any idea of the danger. People exposed to the following are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning:
• Gas appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, and boilers that are not burning properly (incomplete combustion) and/or ventilated
• Generators … Read more