A look back at Braley: Congressman represented divorcee in fight over boat

By Kristin Guess | Oct 30, 2014

WATERLOO, Iowa (Legal Newsline) – During his career as a trial lawyer, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley not only filed routine personal injury lawsuits like car wreck claims, but also got involved in a dispute over a boat stemming from a divorce.

Legal Newsline is exploring the career of Braley, the former president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association who is also running for U.S. Senate this year, by examining court documents in Black Hawk County.

Braley worked at Dutton, Braun, Staack & Hellman before his election to the House of Representatives in 2006.

Donald Heath vs. Diane R. Heath

In 1996, Braley represented Diane R. Heath after her divorce from Greg Heath. Donald Heath and his grandson, Ryan D. Heath, represented by Larry J. Cohrt of Waterloo, filed two lawsuits regarding possessions after the divorce of Diane and Greg, who is Donald’s son, in 1992. Diane is Ryan’s mother.

Court records state that Donald, owner of A-1 Vacationland, acquired a Bayliner boat for Greg to use. They detail several “expensive toys” that were purchased by Donald Heath in the name of A-1 Vacationland.

Greg worked with his father, and there were no documents stating how much ownership, if any, Greg had in the business.

Diane claimed that her ex-husband Greg asked the court to award her with the Baylieer as division of the couple’s property.

The boat was not listed by Greg as an asset. Donald was the sole record title holder and wished to settle the dispute.

Donald also claimed that Diane interfered with his 1976 Piper Aztec Twin engine plane. He claimed that Diane caused the logs for the plane to be taken from the locked cockpit without permission in 1992.

For three-and-a-half years, the plane was grounded and allegedly could not be sold at the true value. Donald claimed he was deprived of use, lost fair rental value, suffered depreciation and endured storage costs.

Braley repeatedly contacted Cohrt for information on the items in question.

In June 1997, Judge Todd Geer filed a dismissal for the case because the responses were more than nine months delinquent.

Julie Feauto vs Linda Mae Bohr and Joseph Bohr

In May 1994, Braley filed a lawsuit on behalf of Julie Feauto against Linda Mae Bohr and Joseph H. Bohr after a car accident occurred in September 1993.

Linda Mae and Joseph Bohr, both residents of Cedar Falls, were represented by Donald L. Carr II with the law firm Smith, Schneider, Stiles, Wimer, Hudson, Serangeli, Robinson, Mallaney, Schindler and Scalise of Des Moines.

Linda Mae Bohr, owner of a 1983 Buick LeSabre, was driving in Cedar Falls with her husband, Joseph, on Sept. 29, 1993. Feauto was a passenger in a 1977 Ford LTD driven by Jennifer J. Weigel.

The complaint alleged that the Bohrs’ vehicle was traveling westbound on West Fifth Street in Cedar Falls as Weigel’s vehicle, driving northbound, entered the intersection of Olive Street and West Fifth Street.

The complaint states the Bohrs were “negligent” and “failed to yield,” causing the collision with Weigel’s. Because of the collision, Feauto was “injured with suffered damages,” according to the claim.

However, the Bohrs stated that the collision was the fault of Weigel. They claimed they suffered from past and future medical expenses, present and future pain and suffering, past and future lost earnings and property damage to the vehicle.


In December 1995, the case settled.

Kehe Construction Co. vs. Harley-Davidson Cycle Center

In 1995, Gaylen Hassman, attorney for Kehe Construction Co. in Waverly, filed a claim against Harley-Davidson Cycle Center for failure to pay for services.

According to court documents, Kehe Construction Co. agreed in February 1994 to provide architectural plans and services to Harley-Davidson for a building project. The companies allegedly agreed to a rate of $60 per hour, but not to total more than $15,000.

Harley-Davidson subsequently cancelled building plans and terminated the contract before the design was completed, and allegedly failed to pay the total cost of $8,280.

Max Kirk, attorney for Harley-Davidson, withdrew his position in July 1996 and was replaced by Bruce Braley.

Representatives from Harley-Davidson claimed that Kehe Construction Co. failed to provide any services or to specify any feels.

The case was settled before trial began in September 1996.

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