Pictured above, a stretch of a City-owned bicycle path near NIACC married housing and a pond. Kathy Schroeder was biking on the path August 7th when she encountered a Mason City police squad car. She was injured trying to avoid the squad car and lost control of her bicycle. Now, she and her husband want the City to pay her medical expenses.|Kathy Schroeder was biking on a city-owned bike path near NIACC married housing and a pond on August 7th when she unexpectedly encountered a Mason City police squad car on the path. Schroeder was injured as she tried to avoid the squad car and lost control of her bicycle.
According to a claim form turned in to City Hall, Kathy Schroeder says “I was riding on the bike trail. I came around the corner and was startled to see a police patrol car on the trail. There was no room to go around him so I hit my brakes and fell off my bike.” As far as damages and injuries, she says “My glasses were ruined. The right side of my body was severely scraped. I was dizzy and nauseated. The police officer called an ambulance to take me to the hospital.”
Kathy’s husband, Charlie, made a public address to the City Council and Mayor Eric Bookmeyer on December 7th, where he described the incident and asked the City to “assume responsibility” for the accident and pay $1500 in medical bills for his wife.
City Administrator Brent Trout addressed the issue in a memo to the Mayor and Council on December 16. In the memo, Trout says the Schroeder’s claim was denied by the City’s insurance company, Traveler’s Insurance. Trout says the insurance adjuster determined that the City “was not liable in this case for many reasons.”
However, Trout also said that the City Council could still pay the $1500 to the Schroeders. “The obvious concern when a payment like this is made against the insurance company’s decision of no liability is the setting of a precedent for similar types of claims in the future.”
There does seem to be some support on the Council for paying the Schroeder’s claim. In a memo to the Mayor and other Council members, Councilman Max Weaver wrote “I hope we can help this family out. I think I have a pretty good understanding of what happened. We should take some responsibility.”
NorthIowaToday.com reached out to Mayor Bookmeyer and all six Council members and asked if there was any support for paying the Schroeder’s claim.
Max Weaver told NorthIowaToday.com “I’ve ridden the NIACC trail over 40 times this past year, and never once did I think a vehicle would be coming at me around the bend, let alone a police car. I always assume there could be a dear, dog, geese, or even a snake on the trail, along with other people. I have educated myself on this issue and support paying part of their insurance bill. If, and it’s a big if, all the facts get out, I think most people would agree. If the insurance company has turned this down it makes me wonder what else they aren’t paying for. I guess it’s the old saying…you can’t fight city hall. I say government should serve and protect it’s citizens in a fair and honest manner. “
Jeff Marsters told NorthIowaToday.com that “we got a full report from city staff and not recommending payment.” Mayor Bookmeyer did not respond, nor did Council members Tornquist, Solberg, Nelson and Hickey.
Don Nelson replied to Weaver’s memo, saying “where does it end if the City starts paying citizens for their injuries? I don’t feel the City should pay any portion of Mr. Schroeder’s claim.”
Max Weaver told NorthIowaToday.com on a follow-up call that “It’s very convenient for Council members to hide behind staff recommendations. After speaking with the Schroeders, I felt something didn’t taste right. I feel the honest and fair thing to do is to pay the Schroeders the $1500. If the rest of the Council did their homework on this issue, I think they would feel the same way.”
The Council could consider the Schroeder’s claim at a Council meeting if a Council member has it added to a Council agenda. It would require a “second” from another Council member to be discussed and voted upon.
Watch Charlie Schroeder address City Council and Mayor about his wife’s bike accident: