Archive for Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Family of former KU athletics director Frederick files suit against city, gas utility

The family of the late Bob Frederick has filed a lawsuit against the city relating to the former KU AD. The family has said it wants to hold the responsible parties responsible in the bicycle accident death.

March 3, 2010, 1:55 p.m. Updated March 3, 2010, 5:48 p.m.

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Bob Frederick family lawsuit ( .PDF )

The widow of former Kansas University athletics director Bob Frederick filed a lawsuit against the city of Lawrence and Black Hills Energy Wednesday afternoon.

Frederick died in June 2009 as a result of a bicycling accident at Sixth Street and Kasold Drive after his bicycle struck a hole in the pavement.

According to the suit, filed in Douglas County District Court, the gas utility was doing work in the area in the weeks before the accident, and received a permit from the city for the work.

The suit alleges that both the city and the utility were negligent in failing to ensure that damage to the pavement was fully repaired.

Lynn R. Johnson is an attorney for the Kansas City firm Shamberg, Johnson and Bergman and is representing the family in the case.

“After a lot of thought and investigation, our family determined that this was an avoidable tragedy that could have been prevented,” Margey Frederick said in a written statement. “To prevent another family from having to experience what we’ve endured, and to improve safety for bicyclists and drivers in Lawrence, we want to make sure that the entities responsible for creating that hazard are held accountable.”

Johnson said that while it was his feeling that the utility was primarily responsible, the city was included in the suit to ensure that the Frederick family was able to recover damages from all groups that were responsible. If a jury were to determine that the utility and the city were both negligent and responsible for the hole in the pavement, jurors could determine a percentage of the blame for each defendant, Johnson said.

The Frederick family’s main concern is that they don’t want this to happen to someone else, Johnson said, and they want to ensure that responsibility and accountability are upheld.

Toni Wheeler, director of legal services for the city of Lawrence, said the city does not comment on pending litigation. A Black Hills spokesman said Wednesday afternoon that the company would not be able to comment until it was able to fully review the case.

Though the petition is asking for damages in excess of $75,000 in the case, that’s just to satisfy a statutory requirement, and an exact amount of the damages being sought hasn’t been calculated yet, Johnson said.

The family could potentially recoup losses from Frederick’s potential income he could have earned had he not died; the loss of his care, advice and counsel; damages from Frederick’s own pain and suffering from the time he was injured until the time he died; and non-economic damages such as grief and sorrow.

Comments

Lars Larson 5 years, 4 months ago

[pvt. pyle]surprise, surprise, surprise[/pvt. pyle]

cowboy 5 years, 4 months ago

Sorry for your terrible loss , Dr. Bob was a nice a person as you could ever hope to meet in life.

The city management takes a lazy approach to our streets and ultimately the safety of all lawrence residents. The condition , which worsens each year , is reflective of an administration that just really does not get the job done due to a variety of reasons not the least of which is lack of FOCUS on the basics.

The gas company repair was inept and the contractor should never have been released from the job by the city , simple incompetence.

The condition of our streets is reflective of the half .......... management and an embarrassment to the residents of Lawrence.

And has the city taken any corrective action to deal with this in the future ?

XEPCT 5 years, 4 months ago

Dr. Frederick was a great man, but I have to agree with keebler here.

cellogrl 5 years, 4 months ago

I would say that what they are trying to accomplish is making the city workers and Black Hills Energy more aware of what they are doing and avoid another tragic accident like this. I don't believe they're really in it for the money,

Scruggsy 5 years, 4 months ago

Ridiculous. It's not like they left a gaping, unmarked hole in the road that someone rode into in the dark, plummeting to their death... Not to be disrepectful, but he also almost died from a wipeout in which he fell down a rocky embankment, if I remember correctly.

Not all tragic accidents that happen are the fault of another party. And this is ridiculous.

cowboy 5 years, 4 months ago

As I recall after this happened some nimrod at the city immediately blamed the gas company while the city is responsible for inspection and final approval of these functions. The lawsuit would simply force some different procedures and accountability going forward. Was there any disciplinary action ?

somedude20 5 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

amrose42683 5 years, 4 months ago

I think someone needs to hold the city accountable for how absolutely craptastic our streets are. Everyday I wonder if I'm going to hit the hole that will blow my tire and sending my car spinning out causing an injury (or worse) to myself or someone else. I highly doubt that this has anything to do with money and more about accountability. While the holes we are mainly experiencing now are weather created, the one that Dr. Frederick encountered was man made by the gas company, commissioned by the city and was left without any signal of it being there ... that should NOT happen. While the statement made by Scruggsy ("Not all tragic accidents that happen are the fault of another party. And this is ridiculous.") is true in many cases, this is not one of them, and I don't think it's ridiculous in the least.

MartyT 5 years, 4 months ago

Healthcare_Moocher, would you say that to Margey's face? What do you know about the situation that makes you think the her and family are "money grubber(s)", as you so elegantly put it? Please, contribute your wisdom so myself and others may know.

Perhaps, however, you'll simply continue to utter banal, inarticulate cliches in an attempt to mask, in vain, your total inability to express anything of importance or relevance.

Were I not, like so many others, close to the Fredericks then your comment could simply be ignored. It is, however, instead a personal affront to all of us.

amrose42683 5 years, 4 months ago

somedude20 (anonymous) says...

what school will Lawrence have to close now to pay for this turdsuit?

The city probably won't have to pay anything. I'm thinking they'll settle ... no money owed as long as the city/gas company issue an apology and consider themselves at least partially responsible for this accident. If the family wanted money they would have asked for a lot more than $75,000.

ferrislives 5 years, 4 months ago

Scruggsy (anonymous) says...

"Ridiculous. It's not like they left a gaping, unmarked hole in the road that someone rode into in the dark, plummeting to their death..."

Actually, yes it was a gaping, unmarked hole, although he was riding his bike during the daytime I believe. So for the most part, you are completely wrong in your assessment, unless you were attempting to be sarcastic.

Take_a_letter_Maria 5 years, 4 months ago

Not to be disrespectful of the dead, but Dr. Bob is partially to blame for this as well. The person that he was riding with indicated that they both stood on it, ie accelerated on their bikes, in order to beat a yellow. If they hadn't been in such a hurry to rush through a traffic signal changing he may have avoided this hole.

Danimal 5 years, 4 months ago

You know, having lived in Lawrence for years and seeing the horrible conditions of the roads, I don't think that this is a frivolous suit. Lawrence has been so negligent in their road maintenance, that I believe that they should be responsible for any accidents that have resulted from the poor road conditions. The City of Lawrence has been setting themselves up for this for years. I didn't know Dr. Frederick, but it sounds like he was a wonderful person, and it's unfortunate that the community has lost one of its finest members before the city is going to take its most basic responsibilities (like road maintenance) seriously.

alm77 5 years, 4 months ago

Good for her! Maybe the city will sit up and take notice. The entire south side of our street is almost completely washed away right now. Where do I even go to complain about it? Is there some form to fill out or something?

stuckinthemiddle 5 years, 4 months ago

I wish..... oh, never mind what I wish... but I can't see much of any good coming from this...

lasherpa 5 years, 4 months ago

Obviously this is not for the money but as a statement. People sue for 100's of K because they spill hot coffee on themselves. This was an avoidable accident that neglected the checks and balances in place to ensure it doesn't happen. Best wishes and prayers Frederick Family.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 4 months ago

"amrose42683 (anonymous) says...

somedude20 (anonymous) says...

what school will Lawrence have to close now to pay for this turdsuit?

The city probably won't have to pay anything. I'm thinking they'll settle ... no money owed as long as the city/gas company issue an apology and consider themselves at least partially responsible for this accident. If the family wanted money they would have asked for a lot more than $75,000. "


The family isn't asking for just $75,000. The complaint had to ask for damages of at least $75,000 to satisfy a jurisdictional issue. It is a technical thing.

Scruggsy 5 years, 4 months ago

I drove past where this occurred on that evening. I don't remember seeing any hole or anything out of the ordinary, as I had wondered if the construction had been a factor. I remember the sidewalk being torn up due to construction (which had been ongoing for weeks at that spot, by the way- caution!), but the street appeared no worse than any of them, all over town... I certainly didn't see the huge hole others say they did..

Roads/ steets are filled with hazards. There will always be holes/ cracks/ etc... I just don't see where there is liability in this case, in my opinion.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

There are a lot of situations in this city as we speak that pose quite a similar risk to cyclists especially at night.

Why has the city chosen this path?

If the city cannot and is not maintaining existing infrastructure aka streets why in the world is the city and county approving any project that includes new streets? Or building more streets. That is money that could be spent rehabilitating other streets all over this city up to "new" code.

Allowing streets to deteriorate in the interest of new streets is fiscally unsound. Let's place a moratorium on all new streets until all other streets are repaired NOT patched.

yankeevet 5 years, 4 months ago

If they cant afford too fix these roads; how will they be able too pay this lawsuit.........

Keith 5 years, 4 months ago

Every time I drive past Scruggsy, I see A hole.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

This is what happens when the older eastside neighborhoods get stuck subsidizing the new growth that is not paying back the taxpayers.

North Lawrence and Older Eastside neignborhoods street maintenance tax dollars have been mismanaged after paying in for 100 years.

puddleglum 5 years, 4 months ago

yes it was a huge hole, I ran right over it and it jarred my teeth so hard-if I had been talking, I would have bit off my tongue. No joke, it really was that bad. three years ago: I was riding my bike through the intersection at 23rd and wakarusa, southbound. after I crossed 23rd, my front wheel slipped right into a freshly sawn rut in the concrete, I almost fell over-with a ups truck about 10 inches away from my rear wheel-there would have been no way he could have stopped. I've been riding forever, but I have never mastered the bunny-hop. somehow on that day, I miraculously hopped my front wheel out of that rut (it was over 6" deep) and lived to see another day. when riding your bike, you must always be looking for potholes, ruts, debris, ksu basketball majic wands, and whatever else crap you can imagine on the road in front of you. That rut is still there, now mostly filled with sand and dirt-it isn't nearly as deep-but is still waiting to take some person's life. This family are not money grubbers. Someone should take responsibility.

Scruggsy 5 years, 4 months ago

If bicycles are to share the streets, maybe they should be registered in the same way motorized vehicles are. The extra revenue could be used to help fix the potholes and other irregularities in the pavement so nobody will ever have a wipeout...

I guess the hole must have been so massive, it has jarred all memory of it from my mind. I only drove past the site every day for the entire construction...

Bob Forer 5 years, 4 months ago

Whenever anyone says its not for the money, trust me, its for the money. The attorneys for the Fredericks are perhaps the best personal injury attorneys in Kansas. In fact, one of Lynn Johnson's partners, Vic Bergman, holds the record jury verdict in Kansas--$15,000.00 for a "bad baby" case around twenty five years ago.

Usually these types of cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning the attorneys only get paid if they win. And let me assure you this, Shamberg, Johnson and Bergman would not accept the case if the prospects for winning were not great, and the potential payout huge.

My comments are not meant to denigrate the Fredick family. Dr. Bob was a fine man, and I am sure his family is of like character. Nothing wrong with suing after such a tragedy.

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 4 months ago

I have been getting ready to ride my bike again as the weather warms up and have been worrying about all the potholes. I am finding myself dodging and swerving my car to avoid them.

The timing of the suit is interesting to me because the holes seem to be especially severe this year. Perhaps this will encourage the city to get more serious about fixing them.

I also agree that Dr. Frederick was a wonderful man. It was a great loss for our city.

He was a role model for a lot of people.

David Mora Marín 5 years, 4 months ago

Sadly, it is the threat of lawsuits that keeps many businesses and others doing what they should, and this lawsuit is necessary to help remind people of their responsibilities. Of course the country has gone overboard on lawsuits, but go back not too long ago and see what happened when no one was afraid of being sued.

BigPrune 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm surprised the Tort Reform Act doesn't prevent the Frederick's from even filing suit against the City, at least that's what I was told years ago from a City employee when I ruined my company car driving into one of our infamous potholes - only sinkholes applied.

My heart goes out to the Frederick family. He was a good man. I had him as a basketball coach many moons ago and he was an honorable man.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

Most bicyclists own cars therefore are paying their fair share and more. Bicycles will not wear out the road like cars and trucks.

I say lets fix the existing roads before buiding more new roads that only expand the cost of operating the city forever...... aka tax hike.

Mike Ford 5 years, 4 months ago

I happened to see Mr. Frederick being loaded into the ambulance on my job route that night. I initially thought he'd been hit by someone on his bike. A month later I lost my mother in a car accident. His bike was up on the cleared dirt area on the corner of sixth and kasold. As a route driver and someone who drives constantly I see few very safe places for vehicles with less than two wheels.

hawkbbfan 5 years, 4 months ago

Really, really? Can we just not accept that things like this happen. Would Bob really want this? RIDICULOUS SUIT, WHAT A WASTE OF EVERYONE'S TIME!!

love2bike 5 years, 4 months ago

Not surprising, the city fixed the road the next day.....liability issue? Lawrence is known for its crappy roads and not being having "bicycle friendly" roads (note the pedestrian crossings the city installed on Louisiana forced drivers into the "bike lane").

Linda and Bill Houghton 5 years, 4 months ago

There are other things that bicyclists need to worry about, such as traffic lights, traffic signs, cars, trucks, and pedestrians. They shouldn't have to worry about the pavement too. After Dr. Bob's accident I found myself paying a lot more attention to the pavement which distracted me from the other dangers. Fortunately, I didn't have any accidents, but I would rather be spending my time watching out for cars, etc.

pace 5 years, 4 months ago

good for them. This suit is justified and will probably save lives.

Robert Rauktis 5 years, 4 months ago

Ridden a lot in my day. Everywhere. And went down plenty. Part of the exhilaration is exposure to the elements. What do these people want? A padded tube for their life? You can't get it both ways!

He was a good man who died of a self-inflicted circumstance doing what he liked to do. Let the dead rest in peace.

If they want to develope some "pothole" non-profit to justify his death, let the tort lawyers fund it. (They'll find a way to take a cut.)

newmedia 5 years, 4 months ago

Sad way to leave a legacy. No one wins in this situation.

Robert Rauktis 5 years, 4 months ago

"No one wins in this situation."

Exactly...a lose/lose situation.

Robert Rauktis 5 years, 4 months ago

"No one wins in this situation."

Exactly...a lose/lose situation.

gphawk89 5 years, 4 months ago

“To prevent another family from having to experience what we’ve endured, and to improve safety for bicyclists and drivers in Lawrence, we want to make sure that the entities responsible for creating that hazard are held accountable.”

No, they're doing it for the money. I've been thrown over the handlebars twice that I can remember after hitting holes in the pavement, once breaking my arm, the other scraping off all kinds of skin. At no point in either case did it ever cross my mind that I should sue someone for my own negligence. Bob was a good AD and person and I had a lot of respect for him. I'm not 100% sure that this is what he would want.

sourpuss 5 years, 4 months ago

I understand the loss of income thing, but I never understood suing for suffering. How can you pass a legal judgment about that? How does pain or suffering fall under the jurisdiction of the law?

whats_going_on 5 years, 4 months ago

whether or not they win this case, I think it'll be a wake up call for the utility and city to realize they can't keep leaving the roads in ruins. If this had been a car, the car had lost control because of the hole and hit someone else head on in the other lane, should it still be called off as an honest "mistake?" No, most of you buggers would be suing too. Just because it was a bike and half of you have some personal vendetta about people who bike/exercise, I think if they were doing this for money (which I don't think they really need?) they probably would ask for a LOT more, as other "useless" suits do.

No, no...if this happened to you or a family member, you wouldn't sit back and just take it either, don't kid yourselves.

ferrislives 5 years, 4 months ago

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daddax98 5 years, 4 months ago

the point that people are missing is that this is not about "pot holes" this is about the energy company CREATING a hazard and not taking the proper steps to mitigate the danger. If Dr. Bob was riding along the street and hit a naturally occurring pot hole that is one thing but when someone goes and digs a huge hole in the street and then fails to fix it , barricade it or at the very least put one of those steal plate over it as a temporary fix they are liable and should be sued. I will guarantee that win or lose the energy company will take steps to ensure that their workers are never this negligent again

gsxr600 5 years, 4 months ago

The roads in Lawrence are absolutely terrible. I sold my motorcycle because of crap like this. It was tolerable 2 summers ago, but the only street that comes to mind being actually FIXED, was 9th. Nothing else. Just shoddy "patch" jobbing in rainy conditions (wut?) and oily tar slurry that just rips up the road even more, reflects terribly against the sun, looks destitute, and causes a loss of traction on a warm day. Thanks for jack ****.

Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 4 months ago

not trying to be cold but right now I think everyone should sue the city for the roads. I have lived here 25 + years and never seen them this bad across the city.

Scruggsy 5 years, 4 months ago

"... want to make sure responsibility and accountability are upheld."

I really mean no disrespect to the family, but I just think that sounds so ironic here.

You saddle up for a ride along Kasold, you take your chances. And lots of 'em.

kdkja 5 years, 4 months ago

So....does this mean I should sue the City for the damage done to my car from dealing with snowplow icebergs this past winter. If the City had better lighting, perhaps I could have seen them at night. Perhaps if hills had been treated better I wouldn't have slid into an snowplow ice bank. How much damage has been caused to hundreds of cars because of this winter's terrible potholes. Driving down Iowa is STILL taking your car and your life in your hands!

I am very sorry for the death of someone. It's really tragic. However, I would suggest that, rather than suing the City or whatever company (it's not going to change their morality), the family has a reputation that could garner donations to put toward better bike access in the community.

Maybe instead of having a Williams Fund, we could have a Frederick fund that would benefit the City as a whole and not a bunch of rich basketball fans.

SpunKey 5 years, 4 months ago

I remember him as a teacher (basic aviation course), vice principal and much more. He would support fighting for the cause, but not for the money/personal gain.

IF they are awarded money from the utility company, I hope it is DONATED TO CHARITY.

If they are awarded money from the city, I hope they set-up a trust or grant that the citizen's of Lawrence benefit from (because the city's money is our tax dollars because the city self-insures). Also, as for city suit, past cases indicate this will drag out for a long, long time and settle out of court after several postponements.

daddax98 5 years, 4 months ago

"So....does this mean I should sue the City for the damage done to my car from dealing with snowplow icebergs this past winter"

you can sue anybody for anything you want...doesn't mean you are going to win

"How much damage has been caused to hundreds of cars because of this winter's terrible potholes"

"I had to replace a $120 tire this year on my truck because of a pot hole"

again this has nothing to do with pot holes this is about a company digging into the street and leaving it causing injury/death. what about that is so hard to understand?

thelonious 5 years, 4 months ago

The streets in Lawrence are a disgrace.....the city absolutely deserves this lawsuit. The streets are not even usable for cars, much less bicycles.

As for cycling in Lawrence.....I am an experienced cyclist, but I stick to riding my bike on a trainer indoors, because between the crap roads, angry motorists, lack of bike lanes, etc., it is simply not safe to ride a bicycle in this town, which bills itself as "bike friendly". Just start counting how many cycling deaths we have had to due crashes in potholes, cyclists hit by motorists, etc. Sad.

Personally, I think we have seen enough of this City Commission and the current City Manager. I'd advocate voting aganst all incumbent commissioners when given the chance, and finding a new city Manager. Perhaps we can bring back Mike Wildgen - the streets were never this bad under his leadership. Along with a new City Manager, I think a new street maintenance manager would be a good start , as well as a new manger for solid waste (oops, I guess we are getting that after the resignation following the audit), and maybe even a new Director of Public Works.

There is something wrong with Lawrence public administration - maybe it's time that some folks from KU who teach public administration poke around a little, maybe do some audits. Look around - something isn't right.

broddie 5 years, 4 months ago

Right now, Louisiana Street between 19th and 23rd has dozens of holes bigger than the one Bob hit.

I hit one in my car and had to get a new wheel. Not just a new tire, but a new wheel.

So whatever it takes to get the City to do the repairs.

igby 5 years, 4 months ago

There's potholes on Tenn. and Kentucky bigger and deeper than this hole he hit. Can't see them on a bike at night!

beawolf 5 years, 4 months ago

daddax98 hit the nail on the head with his 9:20am post. Please read it.

Bruce Bertsch 5 years, 4 months ago

Personal responsibility? How about corporate and governmental responsibility. The family is absolutely right in suing the utility and the City. If they win, bully for them. Maybe it will wake up the city government that there is something important other than issuing permits for more retail that we don't need. Maybe utility companies will be more careful in whom they choose to do maintenance work.

Take care fo the streets, maintain the rest of the infrastructure and allow for new development when and only when the aforementioned has been accomplished.

Bruce Bertsch 5 years, 4 months ago

Personal responsibility? How about corporate and governmental responsibility. The family is absolutely right in suing the utility and the City. If they win, bully for them. Maybe it will wake up the city government that there is something important other than issuing permits for more retail that we don't need. Maybe utility companies will be more careful in whom they choose to do maintenance work.

Take care fo the streets, maintain the rest of the infrastructure and allow for new development when and only when the aforementioned has been accomplished.

gerald_bostock 5 years, 4 months ago

wouldn't making the city pay them money for damages make it LESS likely that they'd fix potholes, due to budget presssures?????

Rainydaze49 5 years, 4 months ago

My condolences to the family of Bob Frederick. More power to this family and their lawsuit! Its long over due that Lawrence clean up thier streets! Maintaining the roads IS NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK!

Bladerunner 5 years, 4 months ago

Everybody should be responsible for watching where they are going. Especially bicyclists and motorcyclists. If you run into a hole.....its nobodys fault but their own.

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