Vern Traversie still waiting of answers

Vern Traversie and His Two and a Half Year Wait for Answers

Heather Steinberger

Traversie retained the services of a team of tribal attorneys, and on July 16, 2012, they filed a lawsuit on his behalf against Rapid City Regional Hospital in the United States District Court, District of South Dakota, Western Division. The complaint states that the “Plaintiff suffered severe physical and emotional trauma as a result of acts and omissions that took place while he was under the care and supervision of the Rapid City Regional Hospital.”

Depositions were taken from Traversie, his girlfriend, his pastor, Rapid City Regional Hospital staff, and expert witnesses. And then the case languished.

“My first attorney didn’t accomplish anything, so I terminated our relationship,” Traversie said. “These new lawyers, they really impressed me.”

Traversie is now represented by Galanda Broadman, a Pacific Northwest-based law firm that specializes in litigation, business matters and regulatory disputes that affect Indian country, and Chase Iron Eyes of Bismarck, North Dakota. Yet Traversie is still waiting for his day in court.

According to court records, the defendants moved for summary judgment on January 10 of this year. That judgment may be issued on the case’s merits or on specific issues. The defendants in Traversie v. Regional Hospital filed their motion claiming a lack of evidence and stating that “no reasonable jury” could believe Traversie’s claims.

Traversie’s legal team filed a response on January 31, stating that “[t]he jury is responsible for weighing the evidence and making credibility determinations, not the court.” The defendants filed their reply brief on February 13, in which they reiterated that Traversie “has failed to produce sufficient evidence to present a triable claim.”

Now the federal judge will have the final word regarding whether Traversie’s case will proceed to trial.

According to Traversie’s attorneys, it’s fairly typical for a case like this to proceed at this pace. For Traversie’s part, he is in constant communication with his attorneys and awaits ruling from the court.

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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
How is it that the KKK can operate in an area with so many Natives? How is it that there are so many witnesses among the hospital staff and no one will step forward in Mr. Traversie's defense? My wife always says that I'm too pessimistic. She says I should try to see the "bright side" of the things that bother me. Well, with all the racism I see everywhere (Donald Sterling, Dan Snyder Clive Bundy, Mr. Traversie's situation, etc.) it pretty difficult to do, but I'm going to try. ______________________ Boy it sure is hard being an Indian these days. At least they aren't shooting us, burning our villages and killing our elders, our women and our children.