Attorneys for the city of Lawrence are asking a judge to remove the city from a lawsuit involving the 2009 death of former Kansas University Athletic Director Bob Frederick.
City attorneys say depositions in the case have proved the city wasn’t responsible for a pothole that caused Frederick’s accident.
Plaintiff’s attorneys representing Frederick’s family say they are largely not opposed to a judge removing the city from the suit as long as any of the three co-defendants is not alleging the city was at fault.
A judge’s consideration of the city’s request for summary judgment comes nearly two years to the day since Frederick, 69, died, June 12, 2009, one day after he suffered injuries after his bicycle struck a hole near Sixth Street and Kasold Drive.
The Frederick family alleges in the suit that Black Hills Energy, the city and subcontractors were negligent in completing repair work on pavement at the intersection. According to the suit, Black Hills was working in the area weeks before the accident and had received a permit from the city for the work. Two other subcontractors — Concrete Inc. of Lawrence and Underground Systems Construction Inc. — were added as defendants later.
Jerry Cooley, an attorney representing the city, in past court motions argued that a franchise agreement with Black Hills saved the city from any liability under a claim.
Both the city and Black Hills have denied any negligence.
Attorneys Lynn Johnson and David Morantz filed the suit in Douglas County District Court in 2010, and, aside from a few hearings, attorneys representing all sides have spent their time taking depositions of people involved.
Cooley wrote in his motion for summary judgment that evidence discovered in the case supports several factors that should remove the city from the plaintiff’s claims.
For one, the city was accused of failing to repair the pothole, but Cooley said there is no evidence the city knew about the pothole and had reasonable time to repair it.
The city alleges the hole was created May 20, 2009, during work by Black Hills and subcontractors in the area and that work was not yet completed at the site even one day after Frederick’s accident.
“Finally, there is no evidence that anyone reported the ‘pothole’ to defendant city or that it was of such a nature that defendant city should have known of it,” Cooley wrote.
The city also argues it cannot be sued for failing to inspect work at the site because it alleges other co-defendants were negligent and caused the pothole.
Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild is expected to conduct a hearing on the city’s motion to be removed from the case later this summer.