Frye Law - September 2019

HOW A SMALL TOWN WENT BANKRUPT OVER A POTHOLE WHAT HAPPENED IN REED SPRINGS?

In 2002, the quaint town of Reed Springs, Missouri, declared bankruptcy. The hard decision came after the town was forced to pay $100,000 to Sally Stewart, a woman who sued Reed Springs after she tripped over a pothole during a shopping trip. News of a greedy woman ruining a small village to make a quick buck sparked outrage across the country. But Stewart wasn’t the real villain of this story. A little digging into this case reveals a much deeper conspiracy. Stewart had been visiting Reed Springs in 1998 when she tripped on a pothole hidden beneath some overgrown grass on the sidewalk. But this was no small stumble. Stewart tore two ligaments in her ankle and had to undergo surgery. To help pay for the medical bills, Stewart, who’d never sued anyone before, initially filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owners of the store in front of the pothole. However, the Missouri Court of Appeals determined the city of Reed Springs was liable for Stewart’s injuries. The court ordered Reed Springs to pay Stewart $100,000, over half the city’s annual budget. Despite the high price tag, in normal circumstances, this verdict wouldn’t have forced Reed Springs to declare bankruptcy because the town’s insurance would have covered the bill. Unfortunately, at the time of Stewart’s accident, the mayor of Reed Springs was a corrupt man named Joe Dan Dwyer. Dwyer left office while being investigated for insurance fraud, child pornography, statutory rape, witness bribery, and perjury, and he was later sentenced to seven years in federal prison. Among his many indiscretions, Dwyer also let the town’s

insurance policy lapse. Reed Springs didn’t have insurance when Sally Stewart got hurt, which is why they had to write a check out of their own budget and ultimately declare bankruptcy. In this case, what started as a simple pothole accident quickly unveiled the lasting damage of an unscrupulous politician. Perhaps this case serves as reminder about why it’s important to vote in local elections.

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HELPING CLIENTS GET THEIR LIVES BACK

At Frye Law Group, we aren’t just in the law business; we are in the human business. We understand the work we do isn’t just about winning a case in court because, regardless of the specific circumstances, the results we achieve are literally life-changing. It’s for this reason that we are constantly looking for feedback from previous clients and other local attorneys to fully understand which areas of our approach to maintain and which to continue to grow, both individually and as a team. We’re grateful for two reviews we received recently! “Choosing Kim Frye as my lawyer when I needed help turned out to be my best decision. Kim was absolutely professional and helpful, as well as extremely thorough. Her understanding of the situation and her influence in my case made all the difference. I couldn’t recommend Kim enough for any person seeking legal representation. Thank you, Kim!”

to work out a way to find resolutions for both cases and ultimately help this client get her life back to normal. As a token of her gratitude, the client sent our office a bouquet of beautiful flowers (pictured). To these clients and the many others who have reached out to us over the years to help us reflect on cases, analyze our approach, and celebrate wins, we can’t thank you enough!

–Chad

The other review we received was from one of our most recent clients who came to us with a legal issue that was holding up her life. Finding a good resolution took a lot of time and perseverance, which was expected. But during that process, the court realized they had missed a previous case that was years and years old, and this mishap caused her current case to be held up even longer. Kim managed

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