Wrongful death lawsuit against Douglas County underway in U.S. District Court

photo by: Court Document

This photo pictures the pod inside the Douglas County Correctional Facility where inmate Rachel Hammers died, in an upstairs cell, on May 12, 2012. The photo is among exhibits in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal court by Hammers' father on behalf of her three minor children.

Douglas County commissioners are closely monitoring a wrongful death action against the county in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

Douglas County Commission Chair Nancy Thellman missed Wednesday’s County Commission meeting to attend the third day of proceedings in a civil lawsuit in the death of Rachel Hammers, who died in her cell on May 12, 2012. Hammers’ father, Joseph Harvey, of Lawrence, is suing for more than $1.35 million for Hammers’ children in reparation for her death.

In March, U.S. District Court Judge Carlos Murguia ruled a jury should hear evidence of wrongful death and negligence accusations against the county.

The County Commission has scheduled an abbreviated agenda for June 13 in anticipation Thellman will again attend the trial.

A jury finding against the county would not be a blow to the county’s budget. Without commenting on the current trial, County Administrator Craig Weinaug said the county had an insurance policy that would cover awards resulting from civil litigation.

• March 30 — Jail death lawsuit: Judge allows negligence and wrongful death arguments to proceed, dismisses some others

• Jan. 2 — Judge weighing wrongful death lawsuit over woman who died in Douglas County jail; jury trial pushed back until summer


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.