Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2008

Settlement in rooftop fall case at apparent stalemate

A possible settlement may be off the table in a civil case involving a KU student who fell from a roof-top deck nearly four years ago.

July 31, 2008


A possible settlement in a civil case involving a Kansas University student who fell from the roof of a home in the Oread neighborhood could be off the table.

The parents of Sara Driessel filed the lawsuit more than two years ago, after their daughter suffered debilitating injuries when she fell from a rooftop porch in October 2004 at a home at 1045 Tenn.

The Driessels are suing the owners of the home, David and Misti Jones, of Lake Quivira, as well as their son Kyle, who lived in the house with several other KU students.

City officials determined the walkout rooftop porch that the 18-year-old freshman fell from was not up to code because there was no railing around it. Court records indicate Sara Driessel's blood-alcohol content shortly after the fall was 0.241, which is more than three times the legal limit of 0.08.

An attorney for the Driessels has indicated Sara's future medical costs could soar into the eight-figure range, but according to a defendants' motion filed in Douglas County District Court, both sides had agreed to settle the case for $552,000.

However, that settlement was contingent on Beth Driessel's being allowed to make a statement in front of the Jones family in court regarding her daughter's injuries and what effect the incident has had on her family.

"My clients do not have any intent to insult or berate the Joneses, but they do feel they should be provided the opportunity to express their loss in the Jones' presence," the Driessels' attorney Pat Miller wrote in a letter in the court file.

Beth Driessel had planned to read a seven-page statement at a court hearing Friday but the defendants object to her making any statements suggesting the Joneses were at fault or to blame for the accident. That's where the two sides have reached a stalemate.

"Ms. Driessel is unwilling to proceed with the settlement under any circumstances that do not allow her to make her statement, unedited," Miller wrote in a July 18 letter to the defendants' attorney. "Our settlement proposal contemplated the Joneses hearing what my client has to say for approximately 30 minutes."

The defendants' attorney has asked the judge to enforce the settlement agreement and limit the statements Beth Driessel could make.


tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 5 months ago

"Ms. Driessel is unwilling to proceed with the settlement under any circumstances that do not allow her to make her statement, unedited," Miller wrote in a July 18 letter to the defendants' attorney. "Our settlement proposal contemplated the Jones hearing what my client has to say for approximately 30 minutes."May as well read it to the sky... collapse... and cry.

igby 9 years, 5 months ago

If she had been crossing the street and tripped on the curb and fell in a pot hole in front of a car, they would be suing the city for the potholes that caused her to fall. Lol.

fu7il3 9 years, 5 months ago

"The Driessels are suing the owners of the well as their son Kyle, who lived in the house with several other KU students."Ouch. Harsh. Apparently the rule of thumb is don't let your sister get wasted then walk around a rooftop with no railing or your parents will sue you.The whole thing is ridiculous. If Jones has to listen a 30 minute rant about how it's his fault for the roof not being up to code, and still have to pay a settlement, Jones should get 30 minutes to rant about how their daughter shouldn't have been drunk on the roof in the first place and how that just might be their fault for not teaching her to make better decisions.I'm sure the incident has effected the family, and I feel terrible for the girl's injuries, but what has the effect been on the family of them apparently suing their son?

twaldaisy 9 years, 5 months ago

spidey she climbed out a window from the 2nd floor to go smoke a cigarette. I am sure most or all the students were drunk, but no one else went out with her or so it seems as no one else was stupid enough to go out a window.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 5 months ago

OnlyTheOneand there's always plenty of idiots to make asinine coffee is suppose to be hot...elevated porches are suppose to have rails...Haiku_Cuckoothanks for the clarification...and... of course... Sara was not on a public thoroughfare...if I was her parents I'd go to court: the life safety code is clear:I think there's a good chance they'd get millions:

Evan Ridenour 9 years, 5 months ago

This reminds me of the KU student who dived out of one of the dorm windows awhile back while drunk... only to have the students parents sue the school.Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I am sorry your daughter is handicapped for life but she shouldn't of been stumbling around, half conscious, on top of a roof!!

Bob Forer 9 years, 5 months ago

Boy, I bet there's one really pissed off PLaintiff's attorney out there. Figure it yourself. 1/3 of $552,000 is a cool 184 Grand. Any practicing attorney with experience will tell you that when a client hires an him to sue out of "principle," that the client will invariably complain when the bill exceeds $1,000. A grand is no big deal to most lawyers. But 184 big ones. Now thats serious money. Screw principle.

workinghard 9 years, 5 months ago

Had the exact same thing happen to a friend's son, his hospital bill was over a half a million dollars with permanent damage. When his son mentioned they should sue they told him if he was stupid enough to fall while drunk that was his problem. No lawsuit was filed.

onrywmn 9 years, 5 months ago

Court records indicate Sara Driessel's blood-alcohol content shortly after the fall was 0.241, which is more than three times the legal limit of 0.08.I am so sorry this young girl was injured so badly, but when are people going to take responsibilty for their own actions? She had no business up on the rooftop porch in the first place. This is so sad that her bad choices ended up in her horrible injuries.

OnlyTheOne 9 years, 5 months ago

stuckinthemiddle - there's always one. I'll wager you belive it was McDonald's fault grannie spilled the hot coffee in her lap.

Bob Forer 9 years, 5 months ago

Pywacket, its always nice to know there are folks out there who still have respect for the English language. Well written.

Ragingbear 9 years, 5 months ago

It is correct that the .08 BAC is for driving, it nonetheless indicates how intoxicated this person was. At .08-.10, I am definitely feeling relaxed, fun, and happy. At .15, I am starting to slur and inhibitions are starting to lessen. By .20, I am feeling really good, would not be able to even remotely try walking a straight line, would make little sense, would probably be drooling and staggering heavily. By .24, I would be vomiting and at the point where people cut me off. This kid was not drunk, she was what is known as Shnookered.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 5 months ago

hmmm... was Sara driving on the roof-porch? doesn't the 0.08 legal limit refers to the legal limit for driving?and sure... people should be responsible for their own actions...and... property owners should be responsible for having their buildings up to code...

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 5 months ago

in other words...only and idot would own a residential property with an elevated porch without a rail...they're getting off easy for $552,000...

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 5 months ago

"doesn't the 0.08 legal limit refers to the legal limit for driving?"Kansas's Liquor Control Act makes it a misdemeanor to be on public thoroughfares with a blood alcohol content level above 0.08%. It doesn't matter if that person is driving or walking. If they aren't driving, then it would be considered public intoxication.

doc1 9 years, 5 months ago

She climbed out a window on to the roof of the porch. It was supposed to be off limits but she didn't listent. It's her fault

Alison Roberts 9 years, 5 months ago

I agree-- she was drunk, accidents happen when people are drunk. It seems as though they were just looking for someone to blame for their daughters actions. It is very sad that she was injured so badly--but no one forced her to drink or walk out on the roof porch. I will say, however, that their should have been a railing; this tragedy could have been avoided with such procautions, but I dont believe the homeowners are responsible. Had the railing been in place, there is no guarantee that the accident wouldnt have happened.

gphawk89 9 years, 5 months ago

"An attorney for the Driessels has indicated Sara's future medical costs could soar into the eight-figure range"Oh sure it could, Mr. attorney, as long as you get a good cut of the take. Why not go for the nine-figure range? I bet he's PO'd that they will probably settle.

compmd 9 years, 5 months ago

Just think, medical bills wouln't be an issue had she been nice enough to simply wander in front of a bus.I have no sympathy for this girl. I agree with Py that its a good thing she didn't hurt anyone else by choosing to be stupid.I nominate her for a Darwin Award.

twaldaisy 9 years, 5 months ago

Alas, Logic I agree with your assessment. I guess my problem is that they were settled, but the mother of the girl wants to rant for 7 pages! Good Lord, put the feelings of that rant to good use like helping with underage drinking, or being responsible when drinking, or even help the codes be enforced. Her daughter made a horrible choice while quite intoxicated and bears most of the responsbility, I don't imagine the 7 page rant says anything about that at all. You are correct, the girl and her family have and will pay dearly for that drunken stupidity. Channel the bad into the good.

jafs 9 years, 5 months ago

Clearly both parties share some responsibility/blame for the incident.I believe the legal term is "contributory negligence" - perhaps some sort of splitting of the liablity is in order.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 5 months ago

lsense I didn't bring up McDonald's coffee... was responding to the person who did... my point being that they're not comparable cases...was there a law regarding how hot coffee could be?there was a law about having a rail on an elevated porch...I think your rant would be better aimed at OnlyTheOne...I'm not interested in arguing the merits of the McDonald's coffee case:

trinity 9 years, 5 months ago

it is my understanding this was a porch ROOF, not a porch deck, upper deck, or anything of that sort. no door access, just a window. so, any second or third story window on my property that has a roof and/or porch sloping down from it requires a railing??? uh-uh. no, it does not. whoever said that the injured girls' mom just wanted to do a seven page rant against the house owners-i agree.

twaldaisy 9 years, 5 months ago

Clikker they did settle, but the woman has a 7 page rant she wants to state.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 5 months ago

none2~laugh~my true colors? what the f--k are your talking about?and the rest of you comment makes even less sense...

bad_dog 9 years, 5 months ago

"Isn't the legal age limit for consuming alcohol in KS 21?"-nomorebobsplease:Good point. I thought of it but decided not to go there. The Driessels probably argued Kyle Jones provided some or all of the ETOH to an underage person, so it's more or less a wash on that issue, I guess.

Alison Roberts 9 years, 5 months ago

Its not really a matter of whether or not Sara's mother was a "good parent" kids will do what they want to do when they are in college. If she didnt have enough sense to avoid situations like this, then it is her OWN fault, not her mothers. Kids want freedom in college, she got it... she abused it... and now she is paying for it. Its a personal responsibility issue and the parents are just looking for anyone to blame for their daughters mistake. Money isnt going to fix her handicap.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 9 years, 5 months ago

The fact that they are suing their own son speaks volumes.

RKLOG 9 years, 5 months ago

I can't believe that there was no railing on that roof! I would never venture out there, drunk or sober. I would think myself an idiot. And what a dumb idea to put a door leading out there too! Many bozos are involved in this situation!

nomorebobsplease 9 years, 5 months ago

Ummm, and she was 18. Isn't the legal age limit for consuming alcohol in KS 21?I bet her parents are not mentioning that.

Clickker 9 years, 5 months ago

The standard is the standard, whether the injured party was drunk or not. if there is a reasonable expectation that the injured party may have fallen had she been sober, then the plaintiff will win millions.The Jones should settle asap, because if this goes to court, they will lose.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 5 months ago

there was/is a door leading out onto this roof-porch making it an intended occupied area...

bad_dog 9 years, 5 months ago

The fact that the case was to be settled for $552,000 speaks to several issues:1) The strengths and weaknesses of the factual/legal issues, as perceived by the respective parties. On the one hand, a defendant that violates a statute in the commision of a negligent act is "negligent per se". On the other hand you have comparitive negligence of the plaintiff via severe intoxication, assumption of risk for climbing out a window to access the roof, etc. 2) The likelyhood of prevailing at trial versus the potential for an adverse verdict leaving the Driessels with nothing but the litigation expenses and the sole responsibility for any future expenses;3) The defendant's ability to satisfy a judgment through homeowner's insurance and/or personal assets.I have to believe that if the Driessel's attorney truly believed this case would be won and they could collect any resulting judgment, they would be taking this case to trial and not settling for a relatively paltry amount considering the monetary damages she likely suffered. Just to give you an idea of what they probably sought for monetary damages: Economic damages-i.e. incurred medical expenses and the value of projected future expenses, lost present (if applicable) and projected future wages; Pain and suffering and any other "hedonistic" damages to the extent permitted by law;* Punitive damages to send a message to the defendants and any other similarly situated persons.It will be interesting to see whether the judge rules in favor of the Motion to Enforce Settlement. I suspect the judge will enforce it, but the defendant's will have to permit Ms. Driessel to make a reasonably edited summary statement-more like a "short story" than a doctoral dissertation. I suspect the Court doesn't really want to sit through all that either.

kansasrose 9 years, 5 months ago

I think it is awful that 18-year olds were given keys to a HOUSE to live in! Of course there would be drinking! But, the responsbility of homeownership is a big one and I'm sorry, but I've yet to meet an 18-year old mature enough to handle the challenges of managing a home. You don't hand your kid the keys to the house and say, 'now, be careful'. Duh. I believe that the homeowners need to hear the statement. I'm certain that the parents of the injured girl know every, single day that it was a senseless tragedy and that their daughter was partly to blame.

bad_dog 9 years, 5 months ago

offtotheright:You are correct-she made a stupid mistake she will pay for during the balance of her life, irrespective of what her parents may or may not have taught her. Do you believe that little fact continues to elude her? Even children raised in the best households sometimes disregard what they have been taught and "mistakes", whether stupid or not occur.Intoxicated persons frequently do/say stupid things. Berating her in a public forum does nothing to correct the mistake or improve the situation and at a minimum merely reflects your lack of tact.Lighten up on the rhetoric please.

bad_dog 9 years, 5 months ago

beo, as I stated above, the fact the case was in a settlement posture with an agreed upon amount reflects the fact that counsel for both sides advised their clients to settle after conducting discovery and carefully weighing the facts and the law.The Driessels obviously have a chance of winning this case or they wouldn't have been offered $552k to settle. That's more than mere "nuisance value". They also must have believed there was a significant chance of losing the case or they would have gone to trial and looked to a jury for an award commensurate with their damages.The daughter was not 100% to blame-don't forget the code violation by the Defendants.

Wendy magillicutty 9 years, 5 months ago

glock, I agree, ew!1) this is why I wont buy a house on Tenn or Kentucky (if it isn't already chopped into $400 bedroom apts). well...this, and noise problems. 2) she did not legally purchase the liquor herself; did someone else?3) if she had driven a car and caused someone ELSE's injuries, a different mother would be ranting and suing.4) Where is the home-owner insurance policy; is this settlement on top of the insurance?5) Thank God I never fell when I did the same exact reckless, illegal, irresponsible and ridiculously fun thing. I still have fond memories of singing on the roof at a short-lived Acacia house on 11th and Mississippi. We had to crawl out of a window and we knew it was bad. Hell the house had been condemned by the fire department a month before...but, I digress...6) If the mom just wants to be heard, truly, then what can it hurt? let her read it and be done with it all. For all you parent-bashing people that really believe this is all her fault, she's got plenty of consequences from her daughter's accident; she will be helping her daughter with medical needs for a long time to come. I wish Sara a long life and recovery and pray for her friends and family to have the strength to carry on through the bad days.peace y'all...

workinghard 9 years, 5 months ago

The Joneses just need to take a pair of earplugs and a book and let her read away. The settlement did not say they have to listen.

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