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Representing State Government

Special Litigation Division

The Special Litigation Division provides legal representation to the Department of Corrections and defends the state in tort and workers' compensation cases, including defense of the Second Injury Fund. The division's attorneys litigate at all levels of state and federal court, as well as before administrative agencies. The division is charged with the investigation of all administrative claims made to the State Appeal Board under both Iowa Code chapter 25, general claims, and chapter 669, tort claims. Other duties include providing advice to other state agencies concerning risk management, representation of the Civil Reparations Trust Fund with regard to awards of punitive damages, and representation of the State Appeal Board concerning local budget appeals.

Tort litigation involves claims of medical and dental malpractice, premises liability, motor vehicle accidents, social service liability and employment discrimination and wrongful discharge, among others. The state, elected officials, agencies and state employees are represented by division attorneys in these suits. The division appeared on behalf of the state and/or state employees in district court litigation in 458 new cases during the two years, a 10% increase over the prior biennium.

Tort and general claims are investigated and recommendations concerning the claims made to the State Appeal Board. During this two-year period 4,718 general and tort claims were filed and referred to the division. The State Appeal Board considered and determined 4,624 general and tort claims based upon the recommendations of the division.

The division advises and represents the Department of Corrections on various legal concerns, including the impact of policy, the effect of new legislation and case law, and contract matters. This representation involves the DOC central administration, the nine prison facilities around the state, and the eight judicial district departments of correctional services which administer community corrections programs. The attorneys defend the department and its employees in prisoner civil rights litigation and challenges to prison disciplinary action.

Workers' compensation cases brought by state employees and claims against the Second Injury Fund are initiated as administrative actions before the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. During the 2003-2004 biennium the division opened 487 new workers’ compensation and SIF contested cases. The division also represents the Commissioner in litigation involving the agency.