Volleyball referee suing City of Lawrence, alleging negligence caused injury on ref stand

photo by: Mike Yoder

Sports Pavilion Lawrence at Rock Chalk Park

A woman who alleges she was seriously injured when refereeing a volleyball game at a City of Lawrence recreation center is suing the city for negligence.

Overland Park resident Barbara Culton filed a lawsuit against the city in Douglas County District Court in October related to injuries she said she suffered in February 2017. Culton’s attorney, Thomas Stein, of Kansas City, Mo., previously sent a letter to the city seeking reimbursement for medical bills and damages for pain and suffering for a total of about $332,000.

In the lawsuit, Culton says she was officiating at a youth volleyball tournament at Sports Pavilion Lawrence when the ladder to the elevated referee stand gave way, causing her to fall to the gym floor. The lawsuit says that Culton received several permanent injuries, including a fractured skull, a fractured and dislocated wrist, and acute carpal tunnel syndrome.

“She has suffered, and will in the future permanently suffer, great pain of body and anguish of mind; and she has incurred, and will in the future incur, substantial expense for medicine and medical attention,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit claims that the city supplied the volleyball nets and referee stands for the youth volleyball tournament, and it was the city’s duty to ensure the referee stand and ladder were safe. The lawsuit alleges that the City of Lawrence was negligent because it failed to inspect, maintain or otherwise make sure that the stand was safe to use. The lawsuit asks that the city pay a sum equal to the costs and expenses Culton incurred, and “for such other relief as the court deems just and proper.”

Stein sent a letter to the city in May regarding the incident and providing notice that Culton was pursuing a claim against the city. The letter said that Culton was seeking $82,315.22 for medical bills and $250,000 for pain and suffering. The lawsuit says the city has yet to accept or deny that claim.

The city was notified of the lawsuit on Monday and has 21 days after service of the summons to file a response with the court, according to the summons. Neither Stein or the city’s attorney office immediately responded to the Journal-World’s request for comment about the case Thursday morning.


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