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Archive for Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Lawsuit filed in deadly blaze

Victim’s mother sues Boardwalk Apartments

October 2, 2007

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Mother of fire victim files charges against Boardwalk Apartments

Two years after fire swept through the Boardwalk Apartments killing three people, the mother of one of the victims says the apartment complex is also to blame. Enlarge video

Rose sentencing: Nancy Bingham, mother of Nicole Bingham

Nancy Bingham, mother of Nicole Bingham who was killed in the Boardwalk Apartments fire, reacts to the sentencing of Jason Allen Rose. Enlarge video

Arson killed her daughter two years ago, but now the mother of a Kansas University student who died in the Boardwalk Apartments fire says the complex is also to blame.

Nancy Bingham, Nicole Bingham's mother, has filed a lawsuit against the Boardwalk Apartments in Douglas County District Court.

Bingham is suing the apartment complex, the management company, the fire equipment safety contractors and several unnamed construction companies that performed renovations on the apartments before the Oct. 7, 2005, fire.

Nicole, Bingham's only child, was one of three people killed in the blaze. "Someone needs to represent Nicole," Bingham said. "It was her life that was lost. I need to look at what she would've wanted done to carry out a legacy for her."

In the wrongful death lawsuit, Bingham claims the apartment complex was negligent for having an inadequate fire suppression system. It also claims the apartments lacked adequate fire escapes and fire alarm systems.

"The fact is that she got out of her apartment, as far as the stairs, caught on fire and collapsed," Bingham said. "If the fire walls would've been a little more effective, she may have gotten out."

The lawsuit also claims the construction techniques and materials used to build the apartments "unreasonably increased the risk of a catastrophic fire." Once set, the fire spread in a matter of minutes, destroying all 76 apartment units.

Bingham is seeking a minimum of $75,000 in damages, but said any money received would be used to honor her daughter's memory. "I'm doing it for her," she said. "The one thing I have found that helps me through my grief is if there is something I can do to help Nicole, then I always find the strength to do it."

Jason Rose, who lived at the complex, was convicted of setting the fire. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence.

An attorney for Boardwalk Apartments declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Comments

Rent102 6 years, 4 months ago

STOP SLUMLORDS NOW AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE PROBLEM TO BEGIN WITH HERE: SIGN 'STOP SLUMLORDS NOW' PETITION http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-slumlords-from-perpetrating-crimes-to-victims

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m1983 6 years, 6 months ago

congrats, you've successfully twisted, and misread everything i said.

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gr 6 years, 6 months ago

"Even if they met the codes does not mean they shouldn't be held liable for negligence." Meeting codes are dangerous?

m1983: "To think you can JUDGE someone" "Know one deserves to be labeled as a bad parent for not predicting the future"

So why are you and Nancy JUDGING someone else for failing to predict the future? Why are you labeling them as bad?

"it is a FACT that complex did not meet the fire code by how fast and intense the fire became."

"A Fact" after the fact. Thpppppth! Why do you think someone else could predict it? Both of you are angry people looking for someone else to lash out at so you can (fill in the blank yourself).

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m1983 6 years, 6 months ago

"When you rent out an apartment to someone, you are responsible for making sure that building is reasonably safe. Reasonable means you don't have to spend $20 million to make the place idiot-proof, but you have to take steps to keep up the maintenance and to spend money and effort, if required, to keep the premises safe"

EXACTLY.

I don't understand why this is such a hard concept for people. Anything purchased 10-20 years ago needs to be upgraded or replaced, houses, cars, electronics, etc. Times have change, and resources and technology have improved. At the same time, certain safety issues, like children in the backseat, have changed.. How does the differ from the Boardwalk apartments fire alarms, sprinklers, escapes, and firewalls? Times change, apartments are expected to upgrade their safety measure, along with granite countertops, paint jobs, and better workout facilities, that's just a GIVEN..

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kansas778 6 years, 6 months ago

cynical--the codes are the absolute minimum requirements. Even if they met the codes does not mean they shouldn't be held liable for negligence.

Plumberscrack--they don't "have to" bring their buildings up to the current code, but again, that does not absolve them of negligence. If an ordinary reasonable prudent person would have updated the buildings, then they will be found negligent. An example would be safety glass in shower doors. At the time it was built, the old glass doors were fine, but now that there are much safer doors, a reasonable person would recognize that the risk and the potential harm is so great that they need to update the shower doors to the safety glass.

When you rent out an apartment to someone, you are responsible for making sure that building is reasonably safe. Reasonable means you don't have to spend $20 million to make the place idiot-proof, but you have to take steps to keep up the maintenance and to spend money and effort, if required, to keep the premises safe.

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Bitter 6 years, 6 months ago

cynical, I do not agree. Hearing testimony in the criminal case......I believe the complex was negligent.

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cynical 6 years, 6 months ago

Did or did not the Apts meet code when they were built? Were they in violation of any codes when fire occurred?Think ambulance chasers got in on this and met some greedy people.

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Bitter 6 years, 6 months ago

m1983 and Bart, you were at the trial and actually HEARD evidence. I after the criminal case realized that most of the people on here were babbling on and giving their opinions really didn't have all the facts. m1983, don't let it get to you. They know not of what they speak and therefore the ignorant ones. You know what happened. You know who is guilty and which apt complex is also at fault. People would spout off about this or that as fact and I would state what actually was presented. It kind of shut people up.

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m1983 6 years, 6 months ago

Gr, offtotheright,nettieb, and whomever else feels they have the right to say such hateful things about Nicole and Nancy, I am sick over this. I didn't read these responses thouroughly the other day, and so now looking back over it, and seeing that you think you have the right to talk about Nancy's parenting, call her a horrible mother, money hungry, etc. To think you can JUDGE someone who went through something this unthinkable and lost her only child in a horrific way is absolutely disgusting, and appauling. I am a friend of the family and no personally why Nicole chose the boardwalk apartments. She liked the diversity of the complex , and the personality of it. Know one deserves to be labeled as a bad parent for not predicting the future, HOW DARE ANYONE SUGGEST THAT. Nicole worked 3 jobs, went to school full time, was involved in a sorority and had hundreds of friends, who she kept up with on a regular basis. She also had a heart condition which enabled her to do thing she would have liked to do. She is A PERSON, and so is NANCY. i think most of you are so glued to the computer that you've taken the actual person, and feelings, out and say things, I would hope you'd never dare say to someones face. It is not your place to judge what Nancy does, or why she does it. How dare you say what you would do, when you've not experienced the type of horrific loss that she has. I don't know if you realize how nicole died, but if you don't, why don't you take some time to look it up. Why don't you also look up more on Nancy, her interviews, articles, and also read about the scholarship at KU that was just endowed. You're responses are so ignorant, it's sickening, and I will say that she is not money hungry, and that money is the last thing on her mind. How dare you people. I hope you never experience what she has, and if you do, you never go to a message board like this and read the comments posted. HAVE SOME RESPECT.

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m1983 6 years, 6 months ago

how dare any of you [imastinker] question nancy binghams motives in filing a law suit against this complex that was basically an INFERNO [like has been described numerous times]

it is a FACT that complex did not meet the fire code by how fast and intense the fire became.

Remember, Jason didn't douse the balconies and apartments with anything, it was all caused from one location, and for it to become what it did is a HUGE RED FLAG.

before freaking out over someone wanting money, why don't you look at Nancy's background, the way she's responded to this, how she's reacted, etc. YOU HAVE NO BASIS to say anything judgmental, or attack her for taking this stand. Personally knowing Nicole, and knowing 2 years ago tomorrow is when she died, I know she would want justice, and not just for herself, but everyone affected. She would want this to become something that EDUCATED other complexes and tenants about firewalls, alarms, sprinklers and the importance of knowing what your complex is equipped with, along with the cities fire codes, etc. There is so much people don't even think about, and the truth is, this fire wouldn't have been as horrific if these things were met.

you people piss me off, Nancy lost her only daughter in a brutal way. Can any of you freaks attacking her say that their daughter was killed in the way Nicole was??? Knowing what she knows, know what specifically happened and carrying herself with the grace and dignity that she has shows Nancy's true character. Any of you who want to grip about taxes, or Jason - KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

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plumberscrack 6 years, 6 months ago

As bad as the construction was at the Boardwalk apartments, they met code at the time. And the code book states basically, that buildings meeting the code at the time of construction, does NOT have to be brought up to TODAYS codes, unless a remodel or addition; that requires a permit is issued.

So most older apartments AND homes in Lawrence DO NOT meet todays codes! And don't have too unless an addition or remodel, would it have to be brought into today's code standards. By the way, the code cycle (When the new codes come out) is every 3 years. So, the codes may or may not change, every 3 years.

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Bart 6 years, 6 months ago

Openminded is also right about Nancy. She is a wonderful woman. Nothing like the person some of you have thoughtlessly imagined. Does she want those responsible for her 22 year old daughter's death to be held accountable? Of course. What parent wouldn't? What would she do with the money? Contibute it to the two charities her daughter supported when during her short life, as a tribute to her. That's what she said on KSN News in Wichita tonight, and I believe her.

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Bart 6 years, 6 months ago

The Boardwalk Apartments were constructed of materials that were not fire retardant. The architecture of the structure made the stairwells operate like chimneys, hastening the spread of fire from floor to floor. Firewalls, designed to prevent fire from spreading from one building to the next, were defective and ineffective. Fire alarms were present, but inoperable. Fire extinguishers were not available, or were inoperative. None of this was obvious, or even discoverable by the tenants. All of this was known to the owners, and correctable, at modest cost, far in advance of the tragedy. Jason Rose started a very small fire, that consumed very large buildings in a very short period. However inadequate his punishment, Mr. Rose has been held to account. Others are also accountable. The lawsuit is not a "lottery" or "money grab." It is the only means the law permits for fixing responsibility on those responsible. I won't shed any tears for the insurance companies or the owners of the substandard apartment building, who collected the rents while thier tenants remained at risk. I'll save my tears for the dead, and for those left behind to grieve them.

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Bart 6 years, 6 months ago

Imastinker, you are really, really not going to be on the jury.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

she's not asking for "only" 75,000. She's waiting to see how much money the companies have so that she can find out how much to sue for, but it will be "at least" 75,000.

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openminded 6 years, 6 months ago

I personally know Nancy and I was friends with Nicole. I'm very upset by the posts saying that Nancy is money hungry. If you don't know the people, don't judge them. She opened a scholarship fund at the KU Endowment Center 2 days after Nicole's body was identified. I was standing beside her when she got the phone call that her paperwork was ready to be signed for the scholarship.

It is no one's business as to why she is asking for only $75K and what she will do with the money. I have told Nancy many many times that I hope that my Mother is half as strong as she has been through all of this. I sat with her through both trials and know that this was her only child, as I am an only child, has to be even harder on her. She was ok with Rose only getting 10 years, I wasn't. I called on her to help me get through it. What a strong person. She has grown spiritually from this and has managed to piece her life back together ever so slightly.

Please have some respect for her and her beliefs. If this helps her heal, so be it. She is a wonderful and strong person that each of us could grow from if you allow yourself to open your heart to her.

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

"If only it were true that bad plaintiff's attorneys would go work for salary."

It's either that or go broke. Plaintiff's attorneys can't afford to take a bunch of crappy meritless cases. They just can't. They are too expensive and take up too much time.

"And yes, I work defense."

Thought you might. :)

However, it is the same old position. Defense attorneys see the real situation where Plaintiff attorneys are either greedy or delusional. Defense attorneys lie and hide information on behalf of their faceless and uncaring clients while Plaintiff's attorneys only represent the honest and noble victims. The fact is that most attorneys involved in these cases are reasonable people doing necessary work; however, defense attorneys represent the devil and plaintiff's attorneys represent the little guy against a vast and powerful bureaucracy. Black and White. ;)

And if that is bitchy for you, then you must be a pleasure to work with. I am more bitchy than that when I am trying to be nice.

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ThatGirl 6 years, 6 months ago

If only it were true that bad plaintiff's attorneys would go work for salary. Sorry, but that is most definitely NOT the case. And yes, I work defense, but I do it with my eyes open to the truth of the situation. Plaintiff's attorneys often get so caught up in the whole "I'm fighting righteously for justice" that they forget to note in their lawsuit that said owner forgot the dogs vaccinations for the last year, and he's not suffering from the trainer, but neglect.

Hopefully that doesn't sound bitchy. My only point is that this is what is......

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geekin_topekan 6 years, 6 months ago

Or,you could woo the trainer's wife and lead her astray.thus getting your vengeance thru the pleasures of the flesh!!

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

Well, it says which side of the fence you work - or don't work.

Baseless lawsuits don't make payroll.

But consider this: You take your dog to a trainer. That trainer, though very nice and well meaning, injures the dog through negligence. You want the trainer to pay for the medical bills of getting yoru dog well. If the trainer doesn't pay you have to kill your dog. Trainer feels badly but refuses. If trainer has insurance, you make a claim through the carrier and get your dog's medical bills paid for. If the trainer doesn't have insurance, you must sue the trainer or kill your dog. Then the trainer gets insurance becuase being forced to take responsibility is expensive. In this case, both the insurance and the attorney are necessary. The only way to get rid of either is to get rid of the dog and dog trainers.

Or as more often occurs, dog trainer feels badly but disagress on the negligence or the insurance company refuses to pay (unreasonably of course) denying liability. Again, either you kill your dog or find some way to settle the claim. You could both enter into a mediation agreement but chances are the trainer would refuse. The insurance company would refuse and laugh at you. Options left are to sue or...nothing. Again in this case, both the insurance and the attorney are necessary. The only way to get rid of either is to get rid of the dog and dog trainers. Seems like bad options all the way around.

The fact is society needs both attorneys and insurance companies. What it does not need is bad ones. Fortunately, bad plaintiff's attorneys tend to go to work for a salary somewhere because they can't make a profit. Bad insurance companies thrive and prosper.

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ThatGirl 6 years, 6 months ago

I will point out I said the "major" need for insurance. Admittedly, insurance serves other purposes. But I don't think it is the black and white issue you are trying to make it. Certainly there are bad insurance companies, but there are also bad lawyers, and it's a vicious circle. While there are people who become seriously injured in terrible accidents, in my experience, the insurance companies are quick to deal with that exposure as opposed to incur the costs of litigation and/or "deny a valid claim." Far more often, however, it's the ambulance chasing lawyer with his hand out to the insurance company...trying to make rain in the desert. The "little" cases will kill you, and if trial lawyers didn't think they could get away with a 30% commision on every case that walks through the door (valid or not), we would probably be better off as a society. And I am a lawyer, so that says a LOT.

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

ThatGirl: I don't agree with the idea that in the absence of lawsuits insurance would not be necessary. Insurance policies protect against risk, not lawsuits - although lawsuits can certainly follow a loss. Do away with risk and you do away with both lawsuits and insurance companies, but how boring would life be then.

Now if insurance companies would act fairly at all times there would be a lot less trial lawyers. I would be absoutely OK with that. But that is easy for me to say. Insurance companies will neve rreform to the extent that good attorneys working for victims will not be needed.

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ThatGirl 6 years, 6 months ago

Baille and Imastinker:

You're both right. Trial lawyers and Insurance companies are both feeding off the same trough. Though neither would admit it, it's a symbiotic relationship. Lawsuits go away and so does the major need for insurance; insurance goes away, and so do most of these lawsuits......

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swan_diver 6 years, 6 months ago

I haven't seen ONE post here focus upon the real problem in this affair. It's this city's building codes -- and lax enforcement of same -- and the people who wrote them, and the city commissioners who voted them onto the books. A thousand small cities and towns across America are in the same boat. Local governance is owned lock, stock and barrel by development interests who want the ability to turn a quick buck off of trash, with a life-span of only several decades -- leaving the community with a built environment that's nothing more than a time bomb. Just look at the dozens of square miles of soon-to-be 'slurbs' spreading out around the middle of Douglas County, soon to become the geography of no-place -- thanks to lazy, incompetent and corrupt goverment officials here. I think these people are the killers.

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True_To_KU 6 years, 6 months ago

Jason Rose is a good KID, and I know that all this is, is a comment board, but Jason Rose has a mind of a child, and the body of a man. He was in many of my classes in High School, and was a really good friend. He was so sweet and child like with the way he talked to people and about people. I know that you think that regardless this "MAN" killed people, but he would never of done it if it ment hurting someone else. When I was a kid I lit Finger nail polish on fire in my drive way in a plastic cup, needless to say the cup melted and the fire covered the street. I could of seriously hurt someone, but the person who came up to help me was full of compassion and understood that I was in just as much fear as probally the whole neighborhood was! ha.

Anyways, what I am getting to is, he's my friend. I feel it's too bad that he was judged on his size and not his mind. His case had nothing to do with his mental capasity, which isn't large, and he acted like a child. He was just as scared as everyone else that lived there. He does deserve punishment and who knows maybe even 60 years of it, but it should be monitered in a hospital or special home sort of situation.

I also feel that these mothers should of taken action on the apartment complexes a whole lot sooner!!!!! I also lived in that apartment building on the third floor, and it was less than nice.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

"When they fail do so, they become amoral entities whose only purpose is to sacrifice fairness and obligations to increase corporate profits"

You make them sound like lawyers.

44.8 billion dillars isn't really a lot of money. I pay approx. $5000 per year for insurance. That includes house, car, life, health. You are talking about a service every man, woman, and child uses in the US.

The bill Bush just vetoed was 30 billion or so and only covered 1/3 of children.

Baille - I will agree that insurance companies have done things that are unfair. At the same time, people are very unfair as well to them. I just read an artice on MSN about this a week or two ago.

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourCar/HowDriversCheatTheirInsurers.aspx

Don't get me wrong - both are wrong to cheat each other. It's not a one way street though.

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

"We ALWAYS pay for this in the end, no matter who is mitigating the losses."

And we should. Insurance companies exist to spread the risk of loss among many, many people so that victims of an insured incident to bear the full brunt of the loss. (Many government programs work on the same principle.) It is morally wrong to benefit from the breach of promises made to those meant to be covered. The insurance company must pay all valid claims and provide full value under the terms of the insurance contract. To do less is wrong. If you as an insured do not want your insurance premiums to go up then be more proactive about getting tortfeasors to stop doing wrong things, switch to an insurer who insures less risky people or activities, or both. However, keeping your premiums low by passively allowing the insurance companies to deny valid claims, pay less than the full loss, or reduce our access to the court system and limit damages to less than the full loss through the use of propaganda and political "lobbying" activities is similarly wrong.

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

Insurance companies systematically deny valid claims. They do this to increase profits. They carpet the nation with propaganda meant to deceive the American public and more often than not the American public is decieved. In 2005, "the companies that provide Americans with their homeowners and auto insurance made a record $44.8-billion profit last year even after accounting for the claims of policyholders wiped out by Hurricane Katrina and the other big storms [of that year.]" They did this on the backs of victims and their consumers.

When insuracnce companies provide good service and pay as they should, insurance companies are a good and necessary thing. However, in my experience as a consumer and as an advocate, I have seen few insurance companies that operate as they should. When they fail do so, they become amoral entities whose only purpose is to sacrifice fairness and obligations to increase corporate profits.

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offtotheright 6 years, 6 months ago

I know a woman who took her son off to college, inspected various homes for rent, and hung the smoke detectors in the house they agreed apon.

Responsibilities as a parent never go away.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

baille -

you keep talking about the insurance companies like they are this evil, bad thing. They provide us a service, and if an insurance company pays out, it comes from us in terms of higher rates. We ALWAYS pay for this in the end, no matter who is mitigating the losses.

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gr 6 years, 6 months ago

"Bingham claims the apartment complex was negligent for having an inadequate fire suppression system."

Since she's such the expert in fire suppression and building materials, why did she permit her daughter to live there? What a horrible mom! Some one should sue her for killing her daughter. Because, "Someone needs to represent Nicole,"

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trinity 6 years, 6 months ago

baille your 9:34 post was just incredible. i wish some of these doofi would read it&learn from it, at least open up their eyes a little wider...but i'm an incurable dreamer.

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

The guy who started the fire is a part of the lawsuit. This is a matter of comparative fault. Everyone who played a part in this tragedy is assigned a percentage of fault. That fault is applied to the amount of loss as converted to a dollar amount by a jury and then if the 51% threshold is met each party at fault pays his/her/its percentage of the total loss.

What did the applicable insurance companies offer to settle this matter? Zero knowing their insureds may share some fault but it would be hard and very, very costly to prove and therefore they could just wait it out and make it all go away? Of. That's right. None of us know because none of us have any idea what has happened prior to the petition or even what is in the petition right now.

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

The civil justice system never makes anyone whole. Unfortunately, our system can not bring the dead back to life, it can not erase the ravages of cancer misdiagnosed, give back legs lost to the negligence conduct of another, or give back years lost to pain and agony. But all those losses have value. The people that caused those losses through negligent conduct have to take responsibility. They can share the risks of those losses with an insurance company, but that insurance company has to pay when the losses are incurrred. If people refuse to take responsibility or the insurance company refuses to pay, then there must be a remedy provided at law. Without it, people can do whatever they want to whomever they want without fear of consequences.

You don't like the idea of money being paid to compensate someone for a loss then come up with a better remedy - but the cancer patients who had to incur a fortune of debt and endure months of pain and anguish that was otherwise avoidable wants to be treated fairly, wants the responsibility party to pay for her medical expenses, and wants those who hurt her to give her something for the pain they caused. Now Kansas limits that amount to a paltry sum, but in the end it is less about the money and more about the responsibility of the negligent actor. It is the same for the greiving wife or mother. It is the same for the parapalegic, the person with the chronic bad back, and the person who lives only because of a permanent PICC line.

The damnation of the willfully ignorant and the uncaring means little compared to the appreciation of the injured, the abused, and the powerless. I hope you never need the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in suing insurance companies. Maybe you will be the one who just rolls over and takes it. Maybe you will enjoy getting jerked around on principle, incurring a mound of debt and a lifetime of limitation for the "greater good" of record insurance company profits. (Today. CNN. Somethinig like 44 billion even in a year of huge hurricane losses. There is a principle to stand behind.) But if you are hurt and you would like the person who hurt you to take responsibility, keep thoughts like this to yourself. I for one don't respond well to converted "legal reformers" no matter how much they may need me. I am kind of cold that way.

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Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 6 years, 6 months ago

Sad. I figured it was just a matter of time before this tragedy turned into an opportunity to win the lottery. Why not blame the guy who actually started the fire? Oh, that's right...he's broke.

Lawsuits...the American way.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

Why God Created Lawyers

Satan was complaining bitterly to God, "You made the world so that it was not fair, and you made it so that most people would have to struggle every day, fight against their innate wishes and desires, and deal with all sorts of losses, grief, disasters, and catastrophes. Yet people worship and adore you. People fight, get arrested, and cheat each other, and I get blamed, even when it is not my fault. Sure, I'm evil, but give me a break. Can't you do something to make them stop blaming me?"

And so God created lawyers.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

Baille - I can think of lots of ways to improve the current system. Most of them involve rounding up all the lawyers and letting them take a swim in a new cet of concrete shoes.

Seriously - it's a shame that bad things happen, but why do more lives need to get ruined over this? For example, the employees that work there, the owners of the company and all the families. Was there anything really preventable there?

If there was, maybe the best way it to lobby for stricter building codes for apartment buildings.

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offtotheright 6 years, 6 months ago

The best thing parents can do, is check out the property their children are going to be living in, before they sign the papers. That is what a responsible parent would do!

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geekin_topekan 6 years, 6 months ago

More power to her.I hope that the money will bring her daughter some justice.(???) If she would start a scholarship with her daughter's money that would make her case more appreciated in my eyes. Perhaps legislation that would make frivilous suit payments made to public funds such as scholarships,roads projects,Christmas light displays or something that would benifit the very people that the suits are supposedly designed to help protect from future tragedy. That would"send the messege",put a dent in the wrongdoer"s pocket and everyone would be happy.And noone in particular would get a big payday.Then we would see how many greiving families will be out trying to carry out a legacy.Put your money where your mouth is.The we'll see how many of these pointless suits are filed. Grief and money don't really seem a good mix.I don't see the connection.Vengence from the grave?I doubt it.Is this really what the daughter would have wanted?Moneymoneymoney?

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

"there wasn't money to be had, the lawsuit would never happen"

That is because lawsuits aren't free. The typical medical negligence trial will cost the plaintiff (or more accurately the plaintiff's attorney) $50,000.00 minimum to litigate. Many cost much, much more. Most people don't have that kind of money to spend on principle. People don't spend $50k to sue for $12,000.00 no matter how justifiably angry they may be.

Complex negligence cases with multiple defendants, like this one, are no different. Access to the courts may be relatively cheap ($150). Staying there costs a fortune. On teh one hand, that severely curtails the amount of questionable lawsuits brought, but it also limits the ability of people with genuine suits from taking their claims to court. These people get screwed.

In the end, lawsuits aren't about "statements" or punishment. They are about fairness and responsibility. People and corporations should pay for the harm they cause. Period. If a jury determines no harm was caused then nothing should be paid. That is not quite the way it works in Kansas and the system could be better, but most who complain about the civil justice system offer little in the way of suggestions on how to improve it.

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nettieb 6 years, 6 months ago

I have a hard time getting behind this one too, because the bottom line is, if there wasn't money to be had, the lawsuit would never happen, no statement would be made to the slumlords of Lawrence.

I'm very, very sorry that her daughter was killed, and Rose's sentence is a travesty, but....

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offtotheright 6 years, 6 months ago

Look around people...these type of buildings are every where. People CHOSE to rent them.

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offtotheright 6 years, 6 months ago

Someone should have brought this up before the fire.

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

In Washington, they just passed a law that says if an insurance company denies a claim in bad faith they have to pay for attorney fees.

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

Many times just the legal costs of defending yourself are enough to bankrupt an innocent company. Look at the chinese dry cleaners in washington DC. They just closed down the last of three stores.

I still have yet to hear anything that points to the company being negligent. Instead, there's a lot of talk about "slumlords" and "old frat boys" and "finally being accoutable."

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

Baille - agreed.

This could very well be a lot of money.

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

$75k is not what the plaintiff is asking for. It is a procedural phrase. This issue was discussed yesterday.

In a petition, if a party is claiming less than $75k in damages then the party has to be specific. For any amounts over $75k, the party simply needs to put in that they are asking for an amount in excess of $75k with the specific amount to be determined during the course of litigation.

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Centrist 6 years, 6 months ago

As a parent of an "only child", I don't know what I'd do if this happened to my family.

I really, really don't know what I'd do. I know I'd be angry as hell though.

$75k is merely a statement, but a good one. Congrats to this parent for standing up.

I think apartments are fire-traps waiting to happen anyway. Did anyone notice how fast the extra apartments "on the hill" went up at Meadowbrook, for example? Seemed like record time, and I remember seeing an awful lot of particle board.

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BABBOY 6 years, 6 months ago

Ahhhhh, the old trash the lawsuit story and posts. First, the only way the plaintiff will win will be if they prove negligence. Damages are not disputed in that it is a death case. I doubt they are just asking for $75,000. I would ask for every penny I could get if the landowners contributed to the deaths of my love ones. (yes -- I am a trial lawyer and when you need me when some drunk driver runs over your loved one, your opinions will change and you will hire me or someone like me).

But, my point is pretty simple. The plaintiffs will not get any money unless they can prove the defendants were 51 percent at fault. If this was a slum lord type operation (I have no idea if it was), then there is probably some issues with security which justifies at least FILING the lawsuit.

But, the reality is that the defendants have a very, very strong defense in that the arson guy caused the fire. They have a good chance of defeating the claim in court. Settlement would not be all that likely with such a strong defense.

Yeah, I know everyone thinks you just file a lawsuit and settlement follows. Maybe 20 years ago, but not now. The insurance companies know full well that public hates lawsuits. I no longer file a lawsuit unless I have very good facts which would piss off a jury. It is the only way you can get around the McDonald case bullcrap. Oh by the way, if you knew the facts of that case, you would have no problem with money she got AND it was not millions it was reduced considerable as matter of that State's law which does not stop media groups like Fox, CNN or other groups from distorting facts to get the everyone all pissed off. I mean how far are you (the public) going to sell off your rights to the insurance companies. It happens every January through March with with Senators and legislators in Topeka.

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Baille 6 years, 6 months ago

The lawsuit isn't limited to $75k. That is a merely a pleading issue.

Also, people should take responsibility for harms caused. Paying for consequences is not only the right thing to do, but on a larger scale it creates change and protects others. Anyone go down to the Clerk's office and pull teh petition?

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offtotheright 6 years, 6 months ago

These apartments weren't built last year! They were built to code in their day.

Mother could have helped her daughter back when she was looking for an apartment to rent.

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livingkate 6 years, 6 months ago

Come on, how is 75k going to "hurt" the owners and management of the apartment complex? I lived in all sorts of firetraps in Lawrence when I went to school.... those slumlords could really care less about the safety and security of the homes they rent. They just want to turn a quick buck, and I'm sure 75k is not going to break their bank. If it FINALLY makes the city look at the awful conditions of some of these apartments and houses, then this lawsuit is a great thing for everyone.

I lived in one of those houses in the student ghetto that a certain company consisting of old frat boys ahem bought and "renovated" with a nice shiny new spiked iron fence. The house is literally in disrepair, but instead of, you know, fixing the foundation or taking the mold out of the walls, they resided it, added a coat of paint, and upped the rental price by $250 a month. A perfect example of these slumlords just glossing over the real problems in these old buildings. Hopefully, finally, they will all be held accountable.

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oldvet 6 years, 6 months ago

And if the units were built according the the code at the time of construction, with no legal requirement to retrofit anything, then the judge should throw the case out and assess her all costs.

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trinity 6 years, 6 months ago

hurt others how-by bringing the fact up that landlords&city inspectors&those involved in housing should be responsible? hmm.

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offtotheright 6 years, 6 months ago

"The one thing I have found that helps me through my grief is if there is something I can do to help Nicole, then I always find the strength to do it."

There is nothing she can do to help Nicole. The only thing this lawsuit will do is hurt others.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

75 grand is not a lot of money. Her concerns are legitimate. These multiple family living units that go up over night makes one wonder as to the quality of construction and what type of safety precautions are built into these potential death traps. Compton's name will always be around because he has built quite a few. Compton is far from alone.

Is T-111 siding a quick burner? I have no clue.

Are sprinkler systems effective if quick burning materials are used in construction? Is minimum requirement regarding fire escapes and construction materials acceptable? This lawsuit may well be an education.

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trinity 6 years, 6 months ago

wait a cotton pickin' second here; quit dogging this woman for this lawsuit! from what i'm understanding, she filed it in effort to make a bigtime statement about the condition of the apartments and the culpability of the builders, inspectors, etc; i don't for one second think that this is a "get rich quick" or some kind of money grubbing scheme at all! if it was then the monetary amount named would be far higher. the 75k is a nominal amount, and intended to honor her daughter's memory; if the day came that she received a check for that amount(or close to it), i'm assuming that she'd use that money in some sort of memorial fashion in her daughter's name. shut up&jump off the damn bandwagon unless/until you've read thoroughly this article&thought about it!

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imastinker 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe the other two families are less money hungry.

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plumberscrack 6 years, 6 months ago

nobody1793 says:

New rule: if you suspect you live in a place that is not up to fire code, make a call to the fire marshall now, BEFORE tragedy strikes. An ugly, bitter, and surely well publicized lawsuit now will not bring back the dead. I also wonder how the other two victim's families feel about having to re-live all this yet again +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

They will probably jump on the lawsuit wagon soon, too!

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nobody1793 6 years, 6 months ago

New rule: if you suspect you live in a place that is not up to fire code, make a call to the fire marshall now, BEFORE tragedy strikes. An ugly, bitter, and surely well publicized lawsuit now will not bring back the dead. I also wonder how the other two victim's families feel about having to re-live all this yet again.

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KS 6 years, 6 months ago

First and foremost, this is a tragedy, but please don't ask me to serve on this jury. The guy that struck the match is in jail with no money, so who does that leave? Someone with insurance. Need I say more? It's not going to change the outcome.

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swan_diver 6 years, 6 months ago

The City of Lawrence should be sued -- for 75 million, for allowing the slum-lords to operate these firetraps. I don't think the owners of the complex are going to be daunted by a $75,000 loss in a lawsuit. Or is this another LJW typo?

Meanwhile -- the man with three murders on his hands goes to jail for ten years... What a tragedy -- all the way around.

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