An Expert’s Escapade, a Cautionary Tale

Call it the case of the Renegade Expert. A federal judge’s 78-page order enjoining an expert involved in Zyprexa mass-tort litigation from releasing documents serves as a cautionary tale for any lawyer operating under a judicial gag order.

U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein issued the injunction February 13th after an expert retained by plaintiffs in the litigation against drug manufacturer Eli Lilly & Company leaked documents concerning the anti-psychotic drug to the news media and others.

Despite having agreed in writing to be bound by the protective order, the expert conspired with a lawyer unconnected to the litigation to come up with a scheme for providing the documents to a New York Times reporter and others, Weinstein found.

The expert and the lawyer “deliberately thwarted a federal court’s power to effectively conduct civil litigation under the rule of law,” the judge said, and therefore “should be enjoined to deter further violations of this and other courts’ orders.”

The Alaska Connection

The complex series of events leading up to the order began in October 2006, when the Houston-based Lanier Law Firm, which represents plaintiffs in the litigation, retained Dr. David Egilman to serve as a medical expert.

Earlier, Judge Weinstein, with the consent of the parties, ordered internal Lilly documents sealed in what was designated Case Management Order No. 3, or CMO-3. The order permitted parties to share confidential materials with their expert witnesses, provided the experts agreed in writing to adhere to the order.

At the Lanier firm’s request, Egilman signed the written agreement to adhere to the protective order. Almost immediately, however, he began speaking with New York Times reporter Alex Berenson about how he could provide him with certain protected documents.

At Berenson’s suggestion, Weinstein found, Egilman contacted James Gottstein, a lawyer in Alaska unconnected to the Zyprexa litigation. Agreeing to help Egilman release the documents, Gottstein intervened in an unrelated Alaska case and immediately subpoenaed Egilman to appear for a telephonic deposition and to bring with him all documents in his possession relating to 15 drugs, including Zyprexa.

Egilman notified Lilly of the subpoena but not the Lanier lawyers who retained him. Before Lilly could respond, however, the Alaska lawyer obtained an ex parte order amending the subpoena to direct Egilman to provide the documents in advance of the deposition. Egilman informed neither Lilly nor Lanier of this amended order. (Upon learning of these events, the Lanier firm immediately discharged the expert.)

Plugging the Leak

On December 13th, Egilman began sending the documents to Gottstein electronically. Lilly learned of this two days later, but by then the lawyer had already started to forward them to Berenson and others. Lilly immediately informed the special master overseeing discovery in the Zyprexa litigation. He ordered Gottstein to return the documents. Gottstein replied that he had voluntarily stopped disseminating the documents after having been contacted by Lilly.

On December 17th, a series of articles based on the documents began to appear in the New York Times. Lilly and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee jointly petitioned the court for an injunction. After a preliminary injunction was issued on Dec. 29th, Judge Weinstein initiated a hearing on a permanent injunction.

In his order following that hearing, Weinstein made the injunction permanent against Egilman and Gottstein. He declined to enjoin any media outlet or Web site.

Weinstein was particularly harsh in his discussion of the expert. “Here, an expert hired by plaintiffs agreed in writing not to distribute documents sealed by court order,” he wrote. “He was given access to those documents so that he could assist plaintiffs – people suffering from serious disabilities, mental and physical – in pressing their civil suit against defendant, a major pharmaceutical company.”

In violation of his legal obligations, Weinstein wrote, the expert “deliberately violated this court’s protective order and published sealed documents, intending that they be widely distributed.” The judge noted that the expert “took particular pains to deny Lilly an opportunity to prevent the breach” by making the documents public before Lilly could act.

“Even if one believes, as apparently did the conspirators, that their ends justified their means, courts may not ignore such illegal conduct without dangerously attenuating their power to conduct necessary litigation effectively on behalf of all the people,” Weinstein wrote. “Such unprincipled revelation of sealed documents seriously compromises the ability of litigants to speak and reveal information candidly to each other; these illegalities impede private and peaceful resolution of disputes.”

This article was originally published in BullsEye, a newsletter distributed by IMS ExpertServices. IMS ExpertServices is the premier expert witness and litigation consultant search firm in the legal industry, focused exclusively on providing custom expert witness searches to attorneys. We are proud to be the choice of 89 of the AmLaw Top 100. To read this and other legal industry BullsEye publications, please visit IMS ExpertServices’ recent articles.

Longshore Act Lawyer: Lawsuits Against Vessel Owners

Longshore Act Lawyer Straight Talk: Lawsuits Against Vessel Owners

The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) is the federal workers compensation system for longshoreman and maritime workers whom do not qualify for seaman status. Generally, a worker that falls under the LHWCA or Longshore Act can not sue their employer if they are injured at work. Instead, they are limited to Longshore Act benefits.

Longshore workers may only bring civil lawsuits for personal injuries suffered at work against vessel owners (whom may also be their employer under some circumstances) or third parties. A third party is any person or entity whom is legally responsible for the LHWCA employee’s injuries other than their employer. This article concerns Longshore Act employees civil lawsuits against vessel owners under Section 905(b) of the LHWCA. These are called “905(b) vessel owner negligence” cases.

Duty and 905(b) Vessel Owner Negligence

The concept of “duty” is one that’s been part of negligence law for centuries. Basically, everyone owes everyone else a duty to not cause them, or put them in position to suffer harm. There are different standards of duty for different people, such as doctors, who owe a higher duty to his or her patients. The federal courts have limited vessel owner duties to LHWCA workers.

Duties Owed to LHWCA Employees By Vessel Owners

The following are the Duties Vessel Owners owe to Longshoreman in the Ninth Circuit*:

1. Turn-over duty of safe condition.

The vessel must exercise ordinary care under the circumstances to have the ship and its equipment in such condition that an expert and experienced stevedore will be able by the exercise of reasonable care to carry on its cargo operations with reasonable safety to persons and property. It relates to the condition of the vessel before it is turned over to the stevedore company.

The vessel must warn the stevedore company of any hazards on the ship or with respect to its equipment that are known to the vessel or should be known to it in the exercise of reasonable care, that would likely be encountered by the stevedore in the course of his cargo operations and that are not known by the stevedore and would not be obvious to or anticipated by him if reasonably competent in the performance of his work.

2. Active Control Duty

The vessel may be liable if it actively involves itself in the cargo operations and negligently injures a longshoreman.

The vessel may be liable if it fails to exercise due care to avoid exposing longshoremen to harm from hazards they may encounter in areas, or from equipment, under the active control of the vessel during the stevedoring operation.

3. Duty to Intervene

A vessel is at times under a duty to intervene in the stevedore’s operations and correct a dangerous condition. This duty arises when:

1) the vessel is aware of the condition,
2) the vessel should realize the condition presents an unreasonable risk of harm to the longshoremen, and
3) the vessel knows that the stevedore, as a result of an obviously improvident judgment, has failed to remedy the situation.

When the vessel should have realized the stevedore company was exposing the Longshoreman to an unreasonable risk of harm there is a duty to intervene. Some courts appear to require the vessel to have played a part in creating the condition or risk of harm.

* The Ninth Circuit applies to LHWCA workers that are injured in the following States: California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii.

If You are From California, Utah, or Alaska, You Need to Refinance Your Home Loan Right Now

Are you currently a home owner in California, Utah or Alaska? If you are, then you should refinance your home mortgage right now. That’s because this is the best time for home mortgage refinancing for people with properties in these states, because mortgage rates are still relatively low but they’ll soon be going up. Particularly if your house had been financed years ago, it’s most likely that your mortgage loan interest rate was calculated based on higher rates at that time.

Additionally, refinancing your home can bring many benefits, like lower monthly repayment amounts. Plus, if you have already paid up most of your outstanding equity, then you can easily get some cash out of your home’s equity. With the continuing growth in the housing market in states like Utah, California and Alaska, interest rates are expected to rise with this increasing demand. Hence, now is best time to lock in on these low interest rates.

Probably the best way to evaluate your options for residential refinance mortgage loans would be to search online through the various home mortgage lenders websites. For instance, a search on Utah refinance mortgage loans or Alaska refinance mortgage loans will list you results on various mortgage loan companies offering refinance packages at very competitive rates.

However, it pays to make an informed evaluation on the different loan packages offered by different lenders as well as by mortgage brokers by making comparison in terms of the criteria, interest rates, points, insurance costs, as well as repayment flexibility offered by the different mortgage loan companies.

The first thing you can do is to search through the online Refinance Directory for Utah, California and Alaska, which gives links to various mortgage loan refinancing companies so you can visit the individual mortgage company sites directly from this directory. You should already have your current mortgage loan details at hand, such as your current repayment amount, the outstanding equity to be paid as well as the loan period. With this, you can then utilize the various refinance loan calculation tools to get a rough idea on current rates and new repayment amounts that you will need to make.

For example, once you’ve narrowed down your choices on the possible mortgage lenders that you want to use to refinance your California home mortgage, you can then simply submit your application online through their website, along with your personal details, key information about your current property, your income status as well as your employment information.

After you received your online loan quote, these mortgage lenders usually assign a customer service representative to handle your application. They usually request documentation of your stated information, like your credit report, current loan documentation and home ownership documents. Your service representative will advise you on any additional costs that will be incurred, like insurance costs, lawyer’s fees, points and even penalty costs imposed by your current home mortgage lender.

Sometimes, it may be advisable to refinance your California home mortgage with the same lender who provided you with your initial home mortgage. This way you can request that certain charges such as points, penalty costs or insurance be waived or reduced, which will give you additional cost savings on top of the lower interest rates charged.

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Arbitration – The Best Way to Settle Fee Disputes With a Lawyer

Are you finding it difficult to settle fee disputes with lawyer? Are you not convinced with the billing statements send to you by him/her? If yes, you need not worry as there are several ways to work out all your issues. Most people end up either suing their attorneys or reporting them to the Bar Association. But, these are not the best ways to solve your problems. In fact, suing a lawyer can make the situation even worse as considering a legal malpractice claim against a lawyer is not only costly, but also very difficult to prove. Therefore, it is always better to go for alternative options to resolve the billing issues.

The best alternative to going to court is ‘Arbitration’. It is nothing but a voluntary intercession program offered by state bar associations to help people resolve their billing issues with their attorneys. It involves a neutral third party, called the ‘arbitrator’, who takes into account all the evidence and documents provided by the two parties and issues a written decision on what the ‘appropriate fee’ should be. This written decision issued to the client a few days after the process is over is termed as an ‘award’.

The arbitration program is of 2 types: Binding and Nonbinding. In the first type, the client and the attorney are required to abide by the arbitrator’s final decision. However, in the second type, the client is free to move to the court if he/she is not satisfied with the issued award.

These intercession services are offered in as many as 41 states in the United States. In fact, in some states, namely, Alaska, California, Maine, Wyoming, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota, this program is mandatory for all those who wish to proceed to a court to settle fee disputes. In other states, it is up to you to decide what suits you best, an expensive litigation or a less formal and a cheaper alternative.

Wisconsin Bankruptcy Lawyers

Wisconsin is a great place to live and work. Madison Wisconsin is home to the University of Wisconsin and is a lovely campus town with beautiful scenery. Green Bay is home to the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field where many classic football games have been played over the years. Milwaukee is the commercial hub of Wisconsin and many Fortune 1000 companies including: Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual, Manpower Inc. Kohl’s, Harley-Davidson and Fiserv.

Wisconsin has natural geographic boundaries of the Montreal River, Lake Superior and Michigan to the north and Lake Michigan to the east. The mighty Mississippi river helps form the state boundary in the west. Over 45% of Wisconsin is covered in forest, there are plenty of lakes – only Alaska, Michigan and Florida have more lakes.

If you need a bankruptcy attorney in Wisconsin there are many options. If you live near Milwaukee, you can grab a business directory and see who’s listed. Even easier, use Google and search for bankruptcy lawyers near your city. There are online directories that contain reviews and research about Wisconsin lawyers that are useful for your search. If you find a couple that you like, call the Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been any complaints against that lawyer in the last few years.

If you can get a recommendation from a friend or co-worker, use that to help guide your search. Don’t forget to ask about a free consultation, you shouldn’t have to pay a lot of money to find out if bankruptcy is the right option for you.

Anchorage DWI Lawyers

Being cited for DWI can be very humiliating. It can also be a bit scary. It is definitely not something you would want on your record. If you are in Anchorage, you would be pleased to know that there are many Anchorage DWI lawyers who are only too willing to help you out – and yes, even get you out of jail!

Why Do You Need a DWI Lawyer?

Under the Alaska law, DWI is a serious offense with serious consequences. You can lose all your driving privileges and you can end up paying huge amount of money for your fines. You need to know what you will be facing and you need the assistance of a lawyer to figure things out.

The law provides that once you are cited for violating the state’s DWI statute, you will end up facing two simultaneous but separate legal actions, that is, a criminal action and an administrative action. The former is in response to your citation. The latter is brought against your license. You could end up with a suspended driving license or you could lose your driving privileges. This would depend on the circumstances of the case. Fortunately, there are many Anchorage DWI lawyers, so you can definitely find one who can represent you properly.

What Will You Be Facing as a First Time Offender?

First time offenders rarely escape unscathed. In fact, a mandatory imprisonment of 72 hours is prescribed by law to first-time DUI offenders. They also need to pay the minimum fine of $1,500.00. They will also have to forgo driving for at least three months. That’s bad news especially if they have to report for community service as well. These are just a few of the things that first-time DWI offenders in Anchorage will have to face if cited for violation of the statute.

If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you really should consider checking out various Anchorage DWI lawyers before you make your choice. You really need someone who knows what he or she is doing. You need someone who can help you face the charges properly.

If you are looking for a trustworthy, reliable and competent Anchorage DWI lawyer near you, you do not have to bother with your local telephone directory. You do not have to go around Anchorage either. The Anchorage DWI Lawyers [http://www.anchoragedwilawyers.com/] Directory will help you find the best attorney in the area. So no matter what legal quagmire you are in, you can definitely find the best lawyer to help you out!

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Message to Lawyers – Pay Your Bar Association Dues

Paying state bar association dues may seem like a no-brainer, but failure to pay those dues could lead to suspension as it did for several RI lawyers in 2010.

The purpose of bar association dues vary from association to association, but payments of these dues is mandatory in many states in order to practice. It’s pay or stop practicing, something 23 Rhode Island lawyers discovered the hard way. A supreme court judge suspended their licenses for their failure to pay bar association dues, which were nearly one year overdue. Most associations require attorneys to pay their dues by July 1.

In the Rhode Island case, the attorneys were notified three times of their lapse, and the vast majority paid up immediately. However, the 23 that did not were suspended. Dues are different amounts, depending on where the attorney is practicing. For example, in Rhode Island, lawyers pay $200 per year for lawyers who have been licensed for more than five years and $115 per year for less senior lawyers.

Bar associations take these due seriously. In Georgia, for example, if a lawyer in any state fails to pay their dues during a two-year period, their membership is suspended for five years. A lawyer can be recertified through Georgia’s Fitness process with Bar Admissions, and must also complete administrative requirements and paying additional penalty fees, dues and late fees. After the five-year period, lawyer there have to retake the Bar Exam.

States that require bar association membership include including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana,, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming and the District of Columbia.

Typically, the dues are below $200, a fee that most lawyers manage to pay to keep their practices in good standing, and the longer an attorney is in practice, the lower the dues.

Why let something this small create such a big problem? For some attorneys, it’s simple oversight and others are aware of this lapse and the consequences.

Personal Injury Lawyer Will Steal Your Unprotected Personal Assets

While driving to an appointment, one of your employees remembers he needs to contact a co-worker regarding a meeting. He dials the number on his cell phone, and briefly takes his eyes off the road. In that instant, a vehicle in front of him shifts lanes, and he strikes it, seriously injuring a 78-year-old woman. Under exactly this scenario, a jury awarded a $21 million judgment against Dykes Industries of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Can you buy enough insurance to cover an unexpected business liability? NO. Insurance covers only a first legal defense and insurance only covers actual damages. Insurance does NOT cover punitive damages.

STATISTICS ON AUTO ACCIDENTS AND PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS

More than 42,000 deaths occurred in motor vehicle accidents in 2001. Could one of these have been committed by one of your employees while on company business?

There’s an army of personal injury lawyers on the Internet ready to be of service on a contingent fee basis, and more are getting educated in colleges and universities. Give it a shot, use Google and type in “injury lawyer” and here’s the “Results 1 – 10 of about 1,120,000 for “injury lawyer”.

Why is being a personal injury lawyer a successful business? Because, one personal injury lawyer teaches other personal injury lawyers valuable information – they hold classes on how to pressurize and optimize more out of a given opportunity. Yes, it sounds like lawsuit abuse, but don’t blame them – it is a business.

The courts make it easy to litigate. They have learned that if they can tie you up in court for a number of years, it’s easier to settle than to fight. And if they can get sympathy out of a jury it translates to bigger fees. Whether you win or lose – you lose; at $350 per hour – it is expensive to get involved in a court battle even if you are right.

If you are a small business owner, the negligent action of one employee can cause you to lose more than just your business. You could become personally liable for assets not related to your business. This is where the personal injury lawyer gets “personal” with your personal assets!

HOW TO PREVENT PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS FROM STEALING YOUR PERSONAL ASSETS

How do you prevent these injurious lawyers from “stealing” your personal assets and keep them at bay? The key is how you own your business. If you own corporate stock or sub “S” stock, chances are that most these lawyers have figured out how to pierce the corporate veil on their way to your personal assets.

If you get a high or if you’re an adrenaline junkie and like to take chances you would not appreciate asset protection. You would think that it’s for the wealthy who have something to hide. Or alternatively if you think that you’re covered by insurance, you have not been sued by a creditor and his very clever personal lawyer…yet. You are an easy target and if they deem it’s worth the small fee to file a suit and a bit of their time then trust me they’ll come after you – maybe not today but very soon.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR ASSETS FROM CONTINGENT FEE ATTORNEYS

What’s asset protection? In my definition asset protection is protecting everything you have or control against pickpocket experts (i.e. personal injury lawyers or any other contingent fee attorneys) who have perfected their profession on easy targets, like you.

Each of your assets should have a financial goal. What’s your financial goal for your personal residence, your vacation spot, your CD’s, your IRA, your investment accounts, and your other valuable assets?

With your personal residence, the bank is protected by virtue of a mortgage subject to the real estate. It’s your personal equity in your home that is wide open for a lawsuit. Do you have minor children learning to drive your car? Did you know that you assume full responsibility for their negligence? Do you own your home in your name jointly with your spouse? Did you know that if either one of you gets sued … you can lose more than just your house?

Another financial goal for your house is the tax deductions available for tax purposes on your form 1040. Tax law allows deduction for mortgage interest and real estate tax deduction. So there are two financial goals for your personal residence: protection from potential creditors and their counterpart injurious, villainous attorneys, and tax deductions for your interest on mortgage and real estate tax deductions.

USE THE LAW TO PROTECT YOUR ASSETS FROM PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS

Use “law” not secrecy. Under tax law, there’s an exception under Internal Revenue Code sections (IRC) §671-§678 that allows the original owners of the personal residence to deduct mortgage on interest and tax deductions of real estate taxes paid on your form 1040.

Under civil law if your house is owned by an independent trust with an independent trustee, you will have repositioned (transferred) you home from you and your spouse to an irrevocable trust whereby you no longer own the house.

Use “law” not secrecy to reposition your automobiles, your corporate stock, your sub “S” stock, your vacation spot, your business assets, your commercial real estate investments, your CD’s, your IRA’s, your financial investments, and so on. Each of your assets needs to have a financial asset and protection goal.

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Limitations and Eye Injury Claims

Time’s up!!

When it comes to suing for eye injuries, there’s no time like the present.

The lawsuit must be filed before the expiration of the Statute of Limitations deadline. Statutes of Limitations deadlines for eye injuries vary from state to state and from case to case. Generally, minors have two years from their 18th birthday to sue.

Different Statutes of Limitations deadlines apply to other kinds of injury cases. For example, in medical malpractice cases, in most states, you have a set number of years from the date you first discovered or should have discovered the malpractice to file the lawsuit.

Alabama Code of Alabama Section 6-2-38 2 years

Alaska Alaska Statutes Section 09 10.070 2 years

Arizona Arizona Revised Statutes Section 12-542 2 years

California 1 year for accidents before January 1, 2003 1 year

2 years for accidents after January 1, 2003. 2 year

If the statute of limitations on a claim has not run before the amendment, on 1/1/03, then it is a 2-year statute, so accidents in 2002 can benefit from the 2 year statute of limitations. Calif. Civ. Procedure code Section 335.1 na

Colorado Colorado Revised Statutes Section 13-80-102 2 years

Connecticut Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-584 2 years

D.C. District of Columbia Code Section 12-301 3 years

Delaware Delaware Code Annotated cc 8107, 8119 2 years

Florida Florida Statutes Section 95.11 4 years

Georgia Georgia Code Ann. Section 3-1004 2 years

Hawaii Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 657-7 2 years

Idaho Idaho Code Section 5-219 2 years

Illinois Illinois Statutes Ann. Section 13-202 2 years

Indiana Indiana Code Ann. Section 34-1-2-2 2 years

Iowa Iowa Code Annotated Section 614.1 2 years

Kansas Kansas Statutes Annotated Section 60.513 2 year

Louisiana Louisiana Civil Code Section 3492 1 years

Maine Maine Revised Statutes Ann. Section 752 6 years

Maryland Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code, 3 years

Massachusetts Massachusetts General Laws Ann. Ch. 260, 3 years

Michigan Michigan Compiled Laws Section 600.5805S 3 years

Mississippi Mississippi Code Annotated Section 15-1-49 3 years

Missouri Missouri Statute Annotated 35 Section 516.120 5 years

Montana Montana Code Annotated Section 27-2-204, 27-2-207 3 years

Nebraska Revised Statutes of Nebraska Section 25-208 4 years

Nevada Nevada Revised Statutes Annotated Section 11.190 2 years

New Mexico New Mexico Statutes Ann. Section 37-1-8 3 years

New York NEW YORK CIV. PRAC.R. Section 214 3 years

North Dakota North Dakota Century Code Section 28-01-16 6 years

Ohio Ohio Rev. Code Ann. Section 2305.10 2 years

Oklahoma Oklahoma Statutes Annotated Title 12 Section 95 2 years

Oregon Oregon Revised Statutes Section 12.110 2 years

Pennsylvania 42 PA Con. Stat. Annotated Section 5524 2 years

Rhode Island General Laws of Rhode Island Section 9-1-14 3 years

South Carolina South Carolina Code Ann. Section 15-3-530 3 years

South Dakota South Dakota Comp. Laws Ann. 3 years

Tennessee Tennessee Code Annotated Section 28-3-104 1 year

Texas Texas Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 2 Section 16.003 2 years

Utah Utah Code Annotated Section 78-12-25 4 years

Vermont Vermont Statutes Ann. Title 12, Section 512 3 years

Virginia Virginia code Section 8.01-243 2 years

Washington Revised Code of Washington Ann.Section 4.16.020 3 years

West Virginia West Virginia Code Section 55-2-12 2 years

Wisconsin Wisconsin Statutes Annotated Section 893.54 3 years

Wyoming Wyoming Statutes Annotated Section 1-3-105 4 years

For more information about Evan Aidman’s work with clients with eye injuries click here: Eye Injury Lawyer

Evan Aidman is the founder and principal of the Law Offices of Evan K. Aidman. Mr. Aidman received a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the University of Florida where he was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society after compiling a near perfect scholastic record. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, an Ivy League Institution, in 1983.

North to Alaska – The Rush is On

My passion for prospecting and my enduring love for the wilderness of Alaska were born on the beaches of Nome in 1993. I couldn’t stop whistling, North To Alaska! It was my good fortune to spend seven adventure packed weeks that summer on the crew of a gold camp 15 miles west of Nome. I have returned twice on the same crew, my latest expedition in 2007.

Nome’s weather is dominated by the Bering Sea and can change rapidly. In the summer, highs average in the mid-50s, with lows in the low to mid-40s. The coldest three months are December through February, when the highs average about 13 degrees and the lows average a little below zero.

The beaches are often still covered in ice pack and snow in May. June offers the best combination of clear skies and warm temperatures. As the summer progresses, more rain can be expected. Severe storms are common and the window of opportunity for working the beach sands diminishes as September approaches.

Nome is located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast of Norton Sound in the Bering Sea, approximately 540 air miles northeast of Anchorage. There are no roads connecting Nome to any major city in Alaska. A robust 4,000 folks now inhabit what was once one of the most populous cities in Alaska. Half of the population are Native American Eskimo. Incorporated in 1901, Nome lies within the region of the Bering Straits Native Corporation. The Sitnasuak Village Corporation has its land holdings in and around the city of Nome.

There Is No Place Like Nome

If the prospectors of 1899 had followed Johnny Horton’s lyrical directions to the gold in the movie North to Alaska, they would have found themselves in the frigid, salty waters of the Bering Sea. In the song, Horton places the golden bonanza beneath that old white mountain, just a little southeast of Nome. That would place the mountain in the ocean. But in the actual story, that is where the gold is, in the water.

History shows that the majority of the Nome gold recovered to date has been gleaned from the beaches of Nome, rather than the creeks and rivers. Thousands of gold seekers tromped over this golden treasure in their quest inland, never realizing that they were grinding beneath their boots the elusive mineral they so avidly sought.

The majority of the credit for the Nome gold rush goes to the triad of John Brynteson, Erik Lindblom and Jafet Lindeberg, who became infamous as those “Three Lucky Swedes,” although Lindeberg was actually from Norway.

In the summer of 1898 John Brynteson was a member of an exploration party from Council City prospecting the Seward Peninsula. Foul weather forced their ship to seek refuge in the mouth of the Snake River, 13 miles west of Cape Nome. The men passed the time waiting for the storms to abate by prospecting the drainages within a four or five mile radius of the ship. They found some color in their gold pans, but not enough to excite them. J. Brynteson, however, had faith and he formed a partnership with the two other Scandinavians, Lindblom and Lindeberg. The men continued to prospect and they eventually worked their way to Anvil Creek where they discovered an impressive amount of coarse gold. After restocking their meager supplies at Golovin, a small trading post 100 miles east, they immediately returned to Anvil Creek, formed the Cape Nome Mining District, and between the three of them, staked out 43 claims. By power of attorney, they also immediately filed on 47 additional claims for backers, relatives and friends.

When word of this leaked out, as it always does, a feverish migration of prospectors descended on the Nome area, unaware that The Lucky Swedes had yet to find anything near a true gold strike. The chaos and confusion that ensued involved rampant claim-jumping, cross filings, lawyers, litigation and myriads of claims filed, by power of attorney, for persons who, in most cases, probably did not even exist. The stampede to Nome by thousands of prospectors from the outside world resulted in disappointment and discouragement for most and death for many.

The lawful resolution of litigations and claim boundaries was impeded by District Judge Arthur H. Noyes, who later turned out to be a flagrant crook who took part in a scheme to use the law to take over the richest gold claims.

In this treeless land, lawlessness prevailed as gangs roamed the streets, setting fires to cover robbery and looting. Troops from Fort St. Michael across Norton Sound were summoned to maintain order.

In those early weeks of the gold rush, the three Lucky Swedes must have felt anything but lucky. The blame for the whole fiasco began to settle squarely on their shoulders. Rumors spread like wildfire, the Lucky Swedes had already filed on all the productive prospects. In reality, little gold had yet been found by anyone. The Swedes’ filings were especially anger-provoking to some of the other prospectors because federal law prohibited foreigners from filing claims unless they could show valid intent to become citizens, the Scandinavians had not.

Finally, in a miners meeting where tempers flared and destinies were forever changed, the Cape Nome Mining District was declared null and void, an illegal enterprise and all their claims were revoked.

The decision was in itself illegal. The miners may have taken the law into their own hands had not a handful of soldiers stepped into the fracas and forcefully disbanded them with fixed bayonnets.

That was a lucky break for the Swedes. They got another break. A few days later they were literally forgotten when one of the soldiers stationed at Nome went to haul water from near the mouth of the Snake River and found gold in the beach sand. It was almost impossible to believe the magnitude of the discovery. Within a matter of days, gold was located stretched along the water line for over 40 miles both east and west of Nome. This time the rush really was on.

Late in the season, winter was settling in and the coast was icebound, but gold seekers began descending on the tent town in the spring of 1899. The gold rush spurred permanent, non-indigenous settlement of the booming city with the population exceeding 40,000 by 1900. According to the US Census of 1900, one third of all whites recorded in Alaska were living in Nome. During the peak of the Nome gold rush, hundreds of tents stretched out along twenty miles of the beach west of town.

Nome was a worthy strike. In the summer of 1899 alone, 2,000 miners, both men and women, worked the sand to extract in excess of two million dollars worth of gold from the beaches gravels before freeze up.

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