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Courage in the face of a tornado’s 200 mph winds is something to be respected and honored. The EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri was among the nation’s worst ever. It killed 162 people and destroyed more than 7,000 homes. A Joplin Social Worker’s heroic acts have resulted in permanent injuries, disability from work and a denial from the workers compensation insurance company.

Mark Lindquist’s survival defies logic. Lindquist noticed the skies darkening on the evening of May 22 while on his way to the group home occupied by three middle-aged men with Down syndrome. Soon after he arrived, a tornado siren began to blare. Lindquist’s employer, Community Support Services, had recently put workers through a tornado drill, so Lindquist and a co-worker knew what to do. Because there was no basement or shelter and the residents moved too slowly to relocate, they placed mattresses over the men for protection, then climbed atop the mattresses for added weight. After the storm, rescuers found Lindquist buried in rubble, impaled by a piece of metal. He was in a coma, expected to be in a vegetative state, and developed the fungal infection that killed other Joplin tornado victims.

But this heroic social worker with no medical insurance and a job barely paying above minimum wage did survive, and even recover, though not completely. But what stunned me was the fact that his workers compensation claim was turned down ! Lindquist’s claim was denied "based on the fact that there was no greater risk than the general public at the time you were involved in the Joplin tornado," according to a letter from Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, his company’s workers’ comp provider. Had he been running around on the street or commuting home, perhaps. But he was trying to save those in the group home from a tornado, something he and his co-workers had been trained to do ! Please read the full news account.

Everyone at the Landau Law Shop hopes that Mr. Lindquist appeals this unconscionable insurance claim denial and that he eventually gets justice in the Division of Workers Compensation or courts of Missouri. Lastly, as an eternal optimist, I would encourage everyone to read the ending to the news story !


  1. Gravatar for Beth Leone Noble

    This makes me sick, especially after having traveled from NC to Joplin to volunteer in the recovery efforts. The heroism and spirit of the people of Joplin was and is awe-inspiring. I hope someone is able to bring justice to Mr. Lindquist.

  2. Gravatar for Doug Landau

    Dear Ms. Noble:

    I have been advised that the Missouri Trial Lawyers Emergency Response Team has helped the Linquist family and they stand to help this heroic gentlemen if the insurance company does not reconsider the denial of his workers compensation claim.

  3. Gravatar for Beth Leone Noble
    Beth Leone Noble

    Thanks for the update! Wonderful news. If you ever need anything down our way, our office is in Raleigh, NC. Just call.

  4. Gravatar for Ken Robert

    Wow, what a story, thanks for this well written article. I certainly hope Mr. Lindquist will ultimately find justice. For committing such a heroic act he serves as an example to us all. Certainly all of his injury expenses should be covered by his company's workers' comp provider.

  5. Gravatar for M. Lou

    This is just another example of insurance companies' indifference to legitimate claims made by injured people. It is shameful to deny a claim for medical expenses suffered while at work. Why do we have Workers' Compensation if not for a situation like this one?

  6. Gravatar for Doug Landau

    MATA is the first state Trial Lawyers Association in the country to partner with the Red Cross to provide legal services to disaster victims. The MATA Emergency Response Team (ERT) has had an ongoing presence in Joplin, Missouri since the Tornado earlier this year.

    This person should contact MATA to coordinate assistance. I’ve copied the Missouri Association of Trial Lawyers ("MATA") on this as well.

    Brett A. Emison, Injury Board member

  7. Gravatar for Doug Landau

    Brett: This is great news. I hope that the Missouri Trial Lawyers' "Emergency Response Team" is able to help Mr. Lindquist and his family. I have heard that they are already in communication. Perhaps they can show the workers compensation insurance company the error of its ways and help secure benefits for this Tornado hero.

  8. Gravatar for Doug Landau

    Update from the Missouri Trial Lawyers Association ("MATA"):

    The family of this Tornado hero know that they have the full weight of MATA behind them. I'll keep you posted as we know more.

    Jeannie Brandstetter

    Public Affairs Coordinator

    Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys


  9. Gravatar for Doug Landau

    The Insurance Company has reversed itself and said it WILL COVER Mr. Lindquist's Workers Compensation claim after initially denying it.

    See our post of October 26, 2011

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