Category archive

U.S. District Court for Wyoming

Wyoming Woman Sues Doctor Who Died In Plane Crash Over Injured Leg

in U.S. District Court for Wyoming/News/Health care
27550

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

Saying her leg has been numb and dysfunctional since her spinal surgery in Powell, a Cody woman is suing the hospital and the estate of her deceased spine surgeon.    

Sylvia Hutton underwent spinal surgery by Dr. Clinton James Devin at Powell Valley Healthcare on Dec. 17, 2020, according to a legal complaint filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming.    

Devin was from Colorado but was licensed to work in Wyoming, and operated in both Cody and Powell. He died at age 46 in a plane crash near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in December 2021, according to his obituary.    

Hutton’s lawsuit accuses Devin, now represented by his estate, and Powell Valley Healthcare of negligence relating to injuries she endures following her surgery.    

Hutton is asking for more than $75,000 in damages, with the exact amount to be determined in court.    

Powell Valley Healthcare did not immediately respond to a message and email from Cowboy State Daily requesting comment.   

Screws And Rods   

In her lawsuit, Hutton alleges that Devin should have prepared her better for surgery with six weeks of bone-strengthening medication or should not have considered her for surgery at all, because her bones had been weakened by a bout she had with breast cancer.    

Devin acknowledged that Hutton’s bones were “extremely brittle,” the suit claims. 

It alleges that Devin implanted “multiple rods and screws into Ms. Hutton’s spine,” during which she showed signs of iatrogenic, or surgery-caused, nerve injury.    

Devin noted that because of Hutton’s poor bone quality, it was “very hard to see the pedicles,” or bridges between vertebrae, as he implanted screws into her spine, the complaint says.    

Hutton’s complaint says she had suffered from intermittent lower back pain for years prior to the surgery.  

Blood Pocket   

An operative note indicates Hutton lost 54 milliliters of blood during the surgery; an MRI and CT scan after the procedure showed a “fairly large” blood pocket at her surgical site, according to the complaint. 

Hutton alleges that Devin caused the blood pocket by using blood-stopping agents and drains “as a shortcut” instead of stopping the blood flow properly within the surgical site before closing it.    

Devin left Wyoming shortly after the surgery, Hutton claims, leaving her in the care of a physical assistant instead of under the watch of a neurosurgeon. She said she soon realized her left leg ached and was weak, and that she could no longer walk safely.    

Numb Leg And Foot   

After hearing of Hutton’s complications, the complaint continues, Devin returned to Wyoming and performed another operation four days after the first.    

Hutton claims the doctor misled her into thinking her post-operative complaints were a normal part of the surgery.    

On Dec. 23, two days after her second surgery, Hutton was transferred to a skilled nursing facility at the hospital instead of going home. The hospital discharged Hutton to her home Jan. 3, 2021, the suit says.    

“Ms. Hutton continues to be debilitated as a result of the … surgery and the delay in evacuating the hematoma (blood pocket) that foreseeably formed as a result of Dr. Devin’s substandard surgical techniques and poor patient selection,” reads the complaint.    

Hutton says she is still in pain, has limited mobility of her left leg, walks with a limp and has numbness down her calf and in her left foot.    

Hospital Charged   

Hutton’s complaint states that she also is suing the hospital because it credentialed Devin despite, she alleges, Devin having “an unreasonably high complication rate.” 

Hutton’s lawsuit says the hospital should have ensured that Devin or another neurosurgeon monitor her after her surgery.    

This lawsuit says that there were 22 lawsuits filed against Powell Valley Healthcare between 2012 and 2016. The first two were “settled confidentially,” the complaint continues, while the latter 20 “pressed the hospital into bankruptcy” in 2018.    

The hospital was “several million dollars in debt” because of a “prior dangerous surgeon,” Hutton alleges.    

Hutton’s lawsuit is ongoing in federal court. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

After Wife Died In House Fire, Wyoming Man Sues Power Company, Tree Trimmer

in U.S. District Court for Wyoming/News
26905

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

A Wyoming man is suing a power company and its tree-maintenance contractor in the death of his wife, who died after an electrical fire reached her home in Clark.   

William Jerome “Jerry” Ruth filed a wrongful death lawsuit for $75,000 or more, as determined by a jury, Monday in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming.   

Beartooth Electric Cooperative of Montana and Asplundh Tree Expert of Pennsylvania are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Both have been operational in Park County.   

Trapped  

The suit states that Ruth’s wife of 38 years, Cindy Ruth, succumbed to injuries in a house fire Nov. 16, 2021, after a tree made contact with a power line and caught fire. The fire spread along Louis Lamour Lane in Clark, and soon reached the couple’s home.   

“As the Clark Fire approached the Ruths’ home, Cindy, in her effort to flee its advancing flames, was trapped,” the lawsuit says. “She was overcome by the fire and died from her injuries.”   

Duty To Inspect  

Ruth’s suit says that Beartooth Electric Cooperative owns and maintains easements and rights of way for its power lines in Wyoming. The power company contracted Asplundh Tree Expert to trim trees away from its power lines.   

The contract between the two businesses, which is included in Ruth’s complaint, states that Beartooth could withhold payment from the tree-trimming company if any of the work was deficient.   

Ruth alleges that Beartooth had a duty to inspect the work. He also alleges that one or both companies failed to maintain the trees according to the National Electrical Safety Code.   

Wyoming law requires power companies to maintain power lines according to National Electrical Safety Code’s standards.   

The Claims  

The suit makes four major claims:   

• The power company and tree-trimming company caused Cindy Ruth’s wrongful death through negligence regarding “ultrahazardous activity.”  

• The companies inflicted emotional distress on Jerry Ruth, especially as he was required to confirm his wife’s identity at the scene where her body was discovered.  

• Both companies were a “nuisance,” or creators of hazardous conditions.  

• The power company’s hiring and supervision with respect to its tree-trimming duties was negligent.   

Ruth is requesting a civil jury trial and more than $75,000 in damages, with the exact amount to be determined by a jury. He also is asking for one or both companies to cover his legal costs and attorneys’ fees, and for any other relief that “may be just and equitable under the circumstances. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Trinity Teen Solutions, Wyoming Facility For Troubled Teens, Shuts Doors Despite Courtroom Win

in U.S. District Court for Wyoming/News/Crime
26477

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
Leo@Cowboystatedaily.com

A northwest Wyoming ranch for troubled teens accused of employing cruel punishments and subjecting residents to forced labor has won a significant court ruling, and also has abruptly closed its doors. 

Trinity Teen Solutions, based in the small northwest Wyoming community of Clark, was accused in a lawsuit filed in late 2020 of subjecting its female residents to forced labor and humiliating punishments. Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled that the civil lawsuit filed by a number of former residents of Trinity Teens is not eligible for class action status.

Skavdahl found that although the case met certain standards for class certification, it did not meet all the requirements needed because of the plaintiffs’ wide breadth of allegations and circumstances. 

Lawsuit Not Over

Skavdahl’s decision does not throw out the case altogether or rule against the plaintiffs. But it does force them to either appeal or represent themselves as individual plaintiffs in a traditional civil lawsuit if they would like to keep the case alive.

On Oct. 19, the plaintiffs filed an appeal of Skavdahl’s decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.


Trinity Teen Solutions has closed, according to the Wyoming Department of Family Services.

‘Permanently Closed’

Trinity Teens informed the Wyoming Department of Family Services that it stopped providing services and enrolling new teens on Sept. 28, NBC News reports. The business is listed as “permanently closed” on its Google business page.

In all, 25 girls were plaintiffs in the lawsuit initially claiming mental and physical abuse while at the facility. 

Some allegations the girls have made include being tied to goats as a form of punishment, being deprived of sleep, medical attention and withheld from using the bathroom for inordinate amounts of time.

The plaintiffs sued Trinity Teens and a number of associated defendants for allegedly knowingly providing or obtaining forced labor, knowingly benefiting from forced labor and human trafficking.

Ranch owner Angela Woodward has denied the allegations made in the lawsuit.

Judge Cites Individual Damages

According to court documents, the plaintiffs say they were contacted by more than 100 people with claims against Trinity Teens that fall within the statute of limitations, and 80 have expressed a desire to participate in the litigation.

Skavdahl said it would be too difficult to determine each potential class member’s right to an award for “agricultural labor” or “manual labor” at a fixed rate, which would depend on each parent’s or guardian’s prior knowledge of the work and their scope of consent.

“Additionally, if liability is proven, determining an appropriate award of restitution damages, emotional-distress damages will have to be done on an individual basis,” Skavdahl wrote.

He also cited the lack of consistent allegations. 

“As each potential class member’s evidence would be unique and particular to their time and experience at Trinity Teens, the claims of forced agriculture labor and other forced manual labor are not susceptible to generalized, class-wide proof,” Skavdahl wrote.

Another Lawsuit

Although originally filed together, there also is another ongoing lawsuit against Triangle Cross Ranch, a separate facility located nearby and also owned by the Woodward family.

In that case, a tentative settlement agreement was arranged Sept. 20 between plaintiff Andrew Scavuzzo and co-defendant the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, according to court documents.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

London Woman Claims Jackson Bank Helped Multi-Millionaire Husband Move Money Without Consent

in U.S. District Court for Wyoming/News
26054

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

A wealthy London woman is suing the Bank of Jackson Hole, claiming the bank allowed her soon-to-be ex-husband to move money around without her consent.   

Nadia Zahmoul, wife of London financier Karim Zahmoul, filed a lawsuit Friday asking the U.S. District Court for Wyoming to stop the bank from allowing any changes or transfers in the couple’s accounts. She also asked the court to enforce a United Kingdom court order disabling the spouses from transferring money without each other’s consent – and for the bank to pay her back $700,000 her husband allegedly transferred, plus other damages, interest and legal fees. 

Wyoming Ties 

Nadia Zahmoul and her husband together own three limited liability companies in Jackson, which in turn hold the real estate of two condominiums in Teton Village worth at least $12 million plus rental income, according to the filing.   

The three businesses are registered in Wyoming to a Jackson-based registered agent.   

According to the lawsuit, Nadia Zahmoul told the bank that she is divorcing her husband and provided the bank with a copy of the United Kingdom court order forbidding the spouses from moving money without the other’s consent.   

Nadia’s lawsuit says she met with bank representatives in August to let them know the couple was going to approve a $700,000 withdrawal to cover their divorce legal fees. 

The divorce court is due to settle most of the couple’s money disputes by Nov. 17. Some of the disputed funds include “hundreds of cryptocurrency transactions” in the Cayman Islands, St. Vincent, Grenadines, “and jurisdictions of similar ilk,” the suit says.    

Transparency.org calls those jurisdictions “tax havens.”   

Bank Knew Of Order 

Karim stopped by the bank Sept, 15, the suit alleges, to discuss paying down mortgages on the properties.   

“Of course, the value of real estate in Jackson has not declined in such matter over the past 90 days to warrant a pay-down of the mortgages,” the suit says. 

The lawsuit alleges the bank asked Karim to move $675,000 from two checking accounts to pay down the mortgages.   

Nadia’s suit claims that the bank knew the foreign divorce order prohibited the transfer without her consent.   

The bank then opened a new account for Karim Zahmoul, the suit continues, through which the man funneled the $675,000 before paying it to the bank.   

“(The bank knew) it had virtually no exposure on the mortgages since the properties were worth over $14 million and … the transferred funds were earmarked” for divorce costs, according to the lawsuit.   

Nadia asked the bank to close the new account, and it did, but not until after transferring the money out of it, the suit claims.   

The wife also says she asked the bank to reverse the transaction, but it “has not meaningfully responded.”   

Effort To Move Money Beyond Wife’s Reach 

The bank reportedly received more than $3.8 million from Karim, the suit claims, “derived from the unlawful liquidations of his securities holdings in the United States,” plus helped him pay $17,000 in premiums on personal insurance policies.  

Karim has reportedly told his wife he’s hoping to transfer some or all of his assets to Malta, beyond her reach and the divorce court’s reach, the suit alleges.   

Nadia Zahmoul told the court in her filing that, as a result of these incidents, she no longer has enough money to pay legal fees in the divorce.   

“The safe haven that (the bank) has provided to Karim to engage in financial shenanigans to (Nadia’s) detriment must be shuttered by this court immediately,” the suit reads.   

The bank faces five allegations of misconduct, one of which is a request for the bank to pause its dealings with Karim and another is a request for the court to enforce the foreign divorce court’s order. 

The other three include breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and negligence.   

Karim Zahmoul did not respond to an email to his business Monday morning. The Bank of Jackson Hole did not immediately respond to a voicemail requesting comment.   

The case is ongoing.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Go to Top